Michael Thomas Duffin, Ph.D. is a 2006 graduate of the PHD Program in Leadership and Change at Antioch University.

Dissertation Committee

  • Carolyn Kenny, Ph.D., Committee Chair
  • George Tremblay, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Philomena Essed, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Michael Quinn Patton, Ph.D., External Reader


place-based education, school culture, leadership, portraiture, program evaluation, urban elementary, environmental education

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This study explored the interaction between place-based education, school culture, and leadership at one elementary school in an inner city section of Boston, MA. The centerpiece is a stand alone research portrait that tells a story about how an external program, a willing and ready school community, and a skillful school leader reinforced each other to achieve a shared vision under challenging conditions. From an under-subscribed school in chaos and lacking focus, the subject school transformed into a vibrant, highly sought school with a pervasive, environmentally-oriented culture and curriculum. Portraiture methods were adapted to a utilization-focused evaluation purpose, drawing on archival and newly collected program evaluation data (interviews, surveys, documents, observations) spanning three years. The electronic version of this dissertation is accessible through the OhioLINK ETD Center,