"In 1981, in the “quiet, back-road town of Winchester,” N.H., Sheldon Dennis Littky, aka Doc, became the unlikely principal of deeply troubled Thayer High School. But his unorthodox lifestyle and teaching methods provoked a battle that divided the town and split the school board, a story picked up by the national media. A gifted, eccentric educator, Littky had earlier established his reputation for innovation in a Long Island school district. In Winchester, however, he was known as the reclusive “mountain man,” an enigma to the townspeople. Journalist Kammeraad-Campbell details the battle that ended in vindication for Littky and his plan for Thayer High, providing a model with application for other school systems.”

                                    Publishers Weekly

“Bravo! At last the story of a school administrator who cares. The reader of this well-written, objective commentary will find renewed hope that perhaps our educational system can respond to the needs of the students with initiative, determination, and caring, despite little money, lack of equipment, and opposition to “new methods.” The author intertwines Littky’s life with the town of Winchester, New Hampshire, where Littky’s unorthodoxy as principal of Thayer High led to a heated debate and his demotion. Ultimately, with the help of students and their parents, he was reinstated. This is not just Littky’s story, but also that of a town whose populace believes in education and gives vigorous support to those beliefs. Primarily, however, this is the story of education, the way it should be.”

                                    ANNELLE R. HUGGINS, Memphis State Univ. Libs., Library Journal review


by Susan Kammeraad-Campbell

2005, 419 pages
isbn-13: 978-1416602283
Trade Paperback
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by susan kammeraad-campbell

This riveting account of Dennis Littky and how his ideas turned around a troubled rural high school—the first school named to the acclaimed Coalition of Essential Schools—gives you a behind-the-scenes perspective on how principal leadership can accomplish positive change.

Read how Littky's philosophy of personalized learning—one student at a time—quickly achieved dramatic improvements, including a decrease in dropout rates from 20 percent to 1.5 percent and record numbers of college-bound graduates. And learn how school improvement ideas that now seem commonplace today—such as high expectations, individualized curriculum, positive learning communities, and a focus on student competencies—had to be carefully nurtured among students, established through collaborative teamwork, and fought for in the community.

Susan Kammeraad-Campbell is the founder and publisher of Joggling Board Press. As editor-in-chief, she has guided all JBP titles from concept to print, including many top national award-winning books. Her book ​Doc: The Story of Dennis Littky and His Fight for a Better School ​became a NBC movie of the week called "A Town Torn Apart." She has been a journalist for United Press International and newspapers in the Midwest and New Hampshire.

In addition, Kammeraad-Campbell has worked on initiatives with Miami University, the College of Charleston, Charleston Southern University, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. She currently resides in Summerville, South Carolina.

about the author