Lorne Johnson

Job: History Teacher
Education: A.B. Visual and Environmental Studies, Harvard, M.A. History (Modern European Social and Intellectual), University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Those of us who stay at Putney rise pretty well to the challenge of living in community.

One anecdote that I believe is emblematic of the attitude of our students to the expectations of the community comes from Marty Brennan-Sawyer, our executive chef. He was woken up one morning by a call from the morning cook, whose alarm had not gone off. It’s still before 7:00 am and breakfast is supposed to be under way, now! Crisis. As he races to the KDU (Kitchen-Dining Unit) Marty frantically plans for an instant breakfast of cold cereal served with profuse apologies. But when he arrives he finds breakfast being served (not the planned menu, but breakfast just the same) and the dish crew functioning. ‘Go home, Marty!’ calls the student who is kitchen boss. ‘We’ve got it under control.’ Of course, they broke in through an unlocked window to pull it off. “Those of us who stay at Putney rise pretty well to the challenge of living in community. This is a great place for taking on responsibility and for taking on enormously valuable academic, athletic, artistic, and work experiences. The student who does well here has some self-motivation and self-understanding intrinsically. To be honest, those qualities aren’t always immediately apparent in 14-year-olds, but those qualities often blossom once a child gets here. Our students learn to self-actualize intellectually, athletically, and artistically while experiencing the mythical life of the Jeffersonian yeoman farmer. The Putney experience really helps us to comprehend the world precisely because we have lived apart from it.