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Dennis Littky, the controversial principal of Thayer High School in Winchester, N.H., and the subject of the television movie "A Town TornApart,'' produced last year, has announced his resignation, effectiveat the end of June.

Although his unconventional educational philosophy and efforts to bring bold reforms to Thayer shook up the rural Winchester community in the 1980's, Mr. Littky is credited with dramatically improving the school during his 13 years there and reducing the dropout rate.

In 1984 the Coalition of Essential Schools chose Thayer as its first school.

Mr. Littky says he will travel for at least a year, "to put myself in very different places where time doesn't matter.'' He says he plans at some point to return to the education field.

His successor has not yet been chosen.

Prize Winners: Three people have been chosen as the winners of this year's Harold W. McGraw Jr. Prize in Education.

Sister Mary Brian Costello, the chief of staff and a former superintendent of schools for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago, won for improving inner-city education. Sharon Darling, the president of the National Center for Family Literacy, won for her efforts to help disadvantaged adults and children battle illiteracy. Booth Gardner, a former Governor of Washington State, was honored for providing political leadership and funding education reform.

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