We are a progressive, secondary school for boarding and day students, situated on a 500-acre working dairy farm in southern Vermont. Central to the fundamental beliefs articulated by our founder Carmelita Hinton in 1935, is the vision that education is something to be actively pursued rather than passively received. We teach to the whole individual, through discussion-based humanities classes, the scientific discovery method, extensive artistic opportunities, and a student-lead work program.
Education for Creativity and Innovation
If creativity is defined as having ideas that have value, then education which fosters creativity is crucial to our graduates' ability to be useful in the world. Our teachers use methods which lead students to construct their own understanding, rather than receive it from the front of the room, and require them to learn how to ask good questions, rather than just answer questions from others. Twice a year all students must design and carry out two lengthy independent projects of their own creation. Tutorials and exhibitions require students to dig deeply into an area of interest and create new knowledge and understanding.
Education for Leadership
Our students do not get taught leadership in a classroom, but rather must practice it and learn it by experience. They run work crews, lead dorms, sit on faculty committees and the Board of Trustees, and debate how to run a community in which individual freedoms must mesh with responsibility to the group. There are nearly fifty leadership positions in which students are responsible for getting work done with other student labor, or in which students are part of the decision-making processes which make the community run. Every student must participate in work that is vital to the school.
Education for Sustainability
Our mission statement says that “Putney stands for a way of life”, and we realize that this life must be an environmentally sustainable one. Throughout our history the land use program has been a key element of a Putney education. Our science program includes Conservation Ecology, Environmental Studies, Complex Systems, as well as Biology and Chemistry classes which use the natural world as their laboratories. Work on the farm, in the gardens, and in the woods is required of all students for graduation. New technology and old are combined to find a way to live more lightly on the land.