On the drawing board, Sandy Creek High School in Tyrone, Georgia, seemed to have all the amenities of a new high school -- wide hallways with recessed lockers, carpeted classrooms, a large gym, an auditorium, and a dining commons lit naturally with skylight. But, as Principal Wayne Robinson pointed out to the architects, there were no plans for classroom technology or a network infrastructure.
"We made changes that included accommodating a schoolwide video system and worked a deal with Apple Computer to install computers and telecommunications technologies and make us one of their demonstration sites," Robinson says.
Today, Sandy Creek is a model of technology use for education. Each classroom in the 1,235-student school has a "teacher-productivity station," a networked computer with office software and e-mail. Rolling carts equipped with multimedia computers, scanners, digital cameras, and software are used for student projects and presentations.
"These kinds of technologies support our philosophy that students need to be active in the classroom and involved in the learning process," Robinson says. "Most kids are visual learners these days and computers help make education more hands-on and fun."
Using the Internet, for example, Sandy Creek students set up an import-export business with Wellington School in Glasgow, Scotland. Sandy Creek, which is just south of Atlanta, shipped 1996 Olympics t-shirts to be sold overseas while their partners sent Scottish souvenirs to be marketed in the U.S.
Students at the school have become such technical whizzes that Robinson sends them -- rather than teachers -- to do presentations about educational technology to groups such as the Georgia state legislature. "Students feel pretty special because of the aesthetic environment and the technology," Robinson says. "All that makes them feel good about going to school here."