Parent Newsletter

Welcome to the parents' newsletter from the Head of School, Emily Jones. Here you will find notes about life on campus, upcoming events, updates on schedule changes and links to our most recent website news items. Comments, feedback or requests should go to Emily via Katy Wolfe.

August 8, 2014

Dear Parents,

School is starting soon, and we are gearing up for the arrival of our students, new and returning.  The campus is looking gorgeous, and the playing fields are finally ready for the new soccer season after their whole long year of renovation and regrowth. 

I'm back in Putney after a trip to California, much of which I spent talking with people doing interesting things in education.  I was struck by the extent to which the education world and the business world have become intertwined on the West Coast. Venture capitalists are starting schools, governance structures are being remade both in the public and independent sectors, and there is as much of a 'next new thing' atmosphere about education as about the latest app.  I spent some time talking with Cindy Johanson at Edutopia, which is doing a great job at fishing "what works in education" out of the torrent.   I visited Marin School for Environmental Leadership, and went to the Bay School to look at their new Design/Build Lab (Putney's whole campus is really one of these, but I want some dedicated space for a really good workshop for everything we design and build here that is not technically 'art'.  Think robots, telescopes, motorbikes, etc.)  I met with the head of the Buck Institute, which is a center for project-based learning.  I also got to spend a half-day at Google visiting one of our alums; their corporate culture is enormously impressive to see. 

I am glad to be back in Vermont, and eager to see the students back.  Next week we have the Progressive Education Lab summer mentor camp, along with our studio arts week for adults and the Vermont Jazz Center camp.  Faculty arrive the week after that and have several days to meet and plan.  Student leaders arrive on the 26th to organize their jobs for the year and plan orientation for our new students. (You can see the complete schedule of student arrivals and registration times below.)

If your student is coming new to Putney, a few words of advice; all new students are excited, and a bit nervous, and this is ok.  Reassure your child that Putney will feel like home soon enough, and that the first impressions and first few days are not a make or break situation socially or otherwise.  (I recently talked with an alum from the 50's who said his first day at Putney he arrived to find his roommate Wally Shawn reading Ulysses, and was thoroughly intimidated.)  Also encourage them not to bring too much stuff - they may be sharing a room for the first time, and they really don't need everything they think they can't live without.  

New parents, when you come to drop off your students, you will have time to help them get settled, and then join the faculty for a welcome assembly. After that, you will say your goodbyes, and are all invited to my house for dinner while your children go off with the student leaders on their new adventure.   I'm looking forward to meeting those of you I don't already know.  In the meantime, have a lovely rest of the summer.

All the best,

Tuesday, August 26: Student Leaders Arrive

2:00 - 4:00 pm Student leader registration — Library Room 1

Wednesday, August 27: New International Students Arrive

1:00 - 4:00 pm Welcome, international students and parents — Faculty Room
4:00 - 6:00 pm Registration for new international students and parents (Libby and Marie) — Faculty Room

Friday, August 29: New Domestic Students Arrive

12:30 - 3:00 pm   Registration for new students, dorm heads on duty in dorms
3:00 - 4:00 pm Families meet with advisors in designated places TBA
4:15 pm  Head’s Welcome — Calder Hall
5:00 pm  Dinner for new parents at Rockwell House (210 West Hill Road)

Saturday, August 30: Returning Students Arrive

1:00-4:00 pm Registration for returning students



May 15, 2014

Dear Parents,

The last day of spring classes is less than two weeks away!  Project Week begins on May 29, and before that we have our Exhibition Day.  Starting at 10:30 on May 28, twenty-two seniors will present their exhibitions, the culmination of independent work they have been doing since late March.  The topics are as various as the students, including classical ballet, building an energy producing bike, Vermont's medicinal plants, and Balinese ritual.   There is an outside evaluator for each exhibition; someone who is an expert in the field.  Younger students choose which exhibitions to attend, and generally find the work both impressive and inspirational as they go into their own project weeks.  Parents often attend their own child's exhibition, and all of you are welcome at any you would like to see.  We will publish the schedule and locations shortly.

Earlier in the day on May 28 all students involved in the Longitudinal Study (most of the school) will be doing those questions for the year.  If you have a day student, please make sure to arrive on time, as it is painful to have to make this up later.  This is our 6th year of the study, and we are accumulating wonderful data which will help us learn more about adolescent development and progressive education in both theory and practice.

Thank you to all of you who completed our Parent Survey.  We have responses from roughly two thirds of parents, which is pretty good.  We will leave the survey open until the end of the day Friday so you can still do it if you have not.

This Friday, May 16, we are having a special milk lunch in the Michael S. Currier Center Gallery before assembly. Christopher Irion, who photographed roughly 80% of The Putney School community for his Photo Booth installation, will be here generously giving away the displayed prints as he takes down the show. If you would like to order additional prints, you may do so here.

Once again, I would like to encourage you to stay for Graduation. You can access the weekend's schedule here.  Please come if you can!

All the best to all of you,




May 1, 2014

Dear Parents,

It was wonderful to see so many of you over family weekend.  It was nice to have quite a number of grandparents here as well as parents, aunts and uncles, and siblings.  Now that we are in May, it suddenly feels as if the end of the year is very close.  The seniors' diplomas are already being painted by other students in secret places (the legend is that if seniors see their diploma before graduation, they won't graduate.)  If you don't know what a Putney diploma looks like, you can see the last several years of them here.  

It is also legitimately spring now--the lettuce is in, and there are flats of seedlings from the greenhouses waiting to be transplanted.  There are lambs being born, and the alpacas will be shorn soon.  The cows spend the nights out, so AM Barn chores start with bringing them in from the field on Watertower Hill for milking.  I've read many a college essay about dawn walks to round up the cows on a spring morning.

We have a charitable work day coming up on the 10th of May.  This is now a four year tradition at Putney, and involves all the students hiring themselves out around the community to do yard work, painting, brush clearing or other odd jobs.  All the money earned goes to a charity the students have chosen; this year they are supporting Citta, an NGO which works on health and education projects in India and Nepal.  If you live within driving distance and would be able to hire some students on the 10th, you can sign up here and let us know what you need.

All the best to all of you,





April 1, 2014

Dear Parents,

We are finally seeing spring up here, and we are ready!  The lacrosse sticks are out, and even a few tiny and hardy flowers.  Alas, the sugaring season was very poor, as it stayed cold a long time. Good sugaring weather is cold at night and warm in the day, and we just didn't get that.  We'll take what we can get, though, and are happy to see the end of the snow for this year.

Our revisit day is April 2, and we are excited to host a big group of admitted students. Thank you to the many of you who recommended Putney to prospective families, and to those who answered their questions.  I well remember some of our seniors when they were 8th graders at revisit day - they are all grown up!

The second cohort of fellows of the Progressive Education Lab has arrived on campus and will be with us through graduation.  They come from Bowdoin, Dartmouth, The University of Michigan and Washington University in St. Louis, and are all bent on becoming progressive teachers.  Since September they have been learning the craft at the other three schools in the program, and we have them for the final quarter of their first year.  In the second year of the program each fellow is placed for a full year internship at one of the schools.  I have been delighted to see that as our first cohort goes on the job market, they are doing very well. They are being sought after by not only progressive schools, but more traditional schools who want to become more progressive.  Since the mission of the program is "Preparing new teachers to become powerful educators and agents of change in the profession" this makes me very happy. 

We are looking forward to seeing many of you for Family Weekend, and the schedule for the weekend is available here.  It includes meetings for parents of students interested in the trimester abroad programs; applications for those are due just after Family Weekend. There will also be meetings for parents of students in each grade level.

My sincere thanks to the 119 parents who have sent contributions to our Annual Fund. We are well on our way to meeting or exceeding the 71% participation rate from last year. If you have not yet given, you will soon receive a mailing from the school asking you to make a gift to the Annual Fund. We hope you will respond, as these contributions are enormously important to maintaining the quality of the program here. If you have any questions about the Annual Fund, please email Carlotta Cuerdon, Annual Fund Manager, or bring your questions to Family Weekend.

All the best to all of you,




March 1, 2014

Dear Parents,

Have you ever wondered how you could get involved at Putney?  As many of you will remember, we have had a silent auction at several recent Harvest Festivals.  Many parents and alumni donated wonderful auction items, as did quite a number of local businesses.  There were weeks at lovely cottages, beautiful pieces of art, and a wide range of services offered.  The auctions were lots of fun, and the profits went to support financial aid for student trips.  However....the time spent on the organization and presentation of the auctions was tough on the development office, on top of their other jobs for Harvest Festival.  We are hoping that there may be one or two parents who might volunteer to take this project on for next year.  We'd happily explain how it works (and if you don't already have a full time job, it is really quite manageable).  If you have some time, and some energy, and some vision for what could be done and think this would be fun, please do let me know.  We would so love to have the auction happen, but have decided that on top of the rest of Harvest Festival it's too much to continue to do with just our staff.

I am sure you are happy to have your children home for the break.  We are looking forward to seeing many of you back here for Family Weekend, which is April 18-19.  A detailed schedule will be sent to you shortly, but if you have any questions please email Katy at  

New on the website is information about the programs in China, France and Mexico for next year, as well as two summer programs we are offering, one in India and one in the American South.  You can find these at Please take some time to discuss these opportunities with your child over the break, as we will be discussing them in greater detail with the students when they return to campus.

We will be getting some photos and videos of the wonderful student work from project week up on the website shortly.   Some of it was quite astonishing.

With wishes for a wonderful spring break,





The Putney School | Elm Lea Farm, 418 Houghton Brook Road, Putney, Vermont 05346-8675
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