CLARKSTOWN, N.Y. -- Clarkstown North High School Principal Harry Leonardatos has been recognized with a State University at Albany Presidential Distinguished Dissertation Award for his recently earned doctoral degree dissertation, “Comparing Organizational Configurations of Principal Autonomy in Finland and New York.”
Leonardatos’ work was done at the university’s Department of Educational Administration and Policy Studies, and was described by the selection council in the following statement:
"Dr. Leonardatos’ work is a rare work of comparative educational research undertaken by a sitting school principal comparing the conditions of American school governance to that of an important alternative — Finland.
"The dissertation combines qualitative and quantitative approaches, using data gleaned from on-site visits during a SUNY (EAPS) study tour of Finnish schools, interviews, document study and a questionnaire to Finnish school principals to develop a rich picture of the comparative and contrasting governance features of the two systems.
"The dissertation adds to our understanding of the factors that make Finnish education so highly regarded in pointing to the higher degree of autonomy of school principals as a key ingredient.
"His study shows that although operating in a more centralized governance system, the Finnish school principal is less hamstrung by conflicting political and institutional constraints (from school boards, superintendents, state, and federal policy directives) than their American counterparts.
"This provides Finnish school principals with the ability to more flexibly and creatively respond to the needs of their students and teachers, less limited by bureaucratic and legal constraints.
"Dr. Leonardatos’ work is distinguished in bringing to his research the insight of an experienced principal of a large, successful NYS high school, which has allowed him to approach his study with the eye of both the researcher and the practitioner, making it the rare piece of research that speaks to both audiences."
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