As a high school principal, Bruce McDade was in charge of student learning, morale, and safety. So, naturally, he became adept at interior design.

Bathroom mirrors? In the high school where McDade was principal for five years, they're located in the hallways, where image-conscious teenagers can be supervised when they cluster to check their appearance.

Classroom chairs? They are 26 inches wide, two inches roomier than normal, to keep students comfortable.

And, oh yes, the window shades. McDade and his team went with special shades that block glare but still permit plenty of indirect light.

In today's schools, style is taking on substance. From...

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