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Lace Elementary School
7414 S Cass Ave, Darien, IL 60561

Even Darien residents without children know Lace Elementary for its "green" roof, the first in DuPage County. TheMore three-year-old roof, which replaces shingles with seeds that blossom into an array of plants and flowers, is just one way that Lace distinguishes itself as a forward-thinking school. Chalk dust is a thing of the past as each classroom is equipped with a smart board -- a touch screen similar to a giant, projectable iPad -- that replaces the traditional blackboard. Document cameras fill the place of overhead projectors, making blurry, marker-scrawled transparencies a thing of the past.

But even with all the 21st Century technology, what really makes Lace special are the people in its classrooms. "We have wonderful kids and an outstanding, child-centered staff who go the extra mile," Principal Marty Casey says. "You sense right away the climate is very positive."

The school educates students grades 3-5, with seven class sections for each grade. There is a discovery room for gifted students, classes for students who speak English as a second language and a resource room for special education.