Dear Putney Graduates and Friends,
I am writing to let you know that the 2021-2022 school year will be my last at Putney. It has been a hard decision, but right for the school and right for Gordon and me. I will have done 15 years as head of school at Putney, and I have loved almost every minute of my time here. It is time to let someone else run this unique and powerful place.
I have complete confidence that Putney will find a wonderful new head of school; that search process is beginning already. One of Putney’s greatest strengths is its clarity of character and philosophy, set out in our Fundamental Beliefs. This vision, along with the character of the students and adults who have been drawn here because of that vision, will also be a great draw for potential heads.
I am looking forward to the next 18 months, and to getting Putney out the end of the pandemic and fully back to its best and most joyful self. We have good and important work to do to make Putney a more diverse, equitable and inclusive place to learn, live and work. We will forge ahead on funding and building new dorms, looking at our food systems, and working towards a net zero campus. We will continue to send out student citizens with the skills to nurture and defend our democracy.
A letter from the board of trustees follows my own (below) and they will let you know what the process for finding a new head will be.
All the best to all of you,
Emily H. Jones
Head of School
Dear members of the Putney School community,
As Chair of the Board, I have known of Emily‘s intention to leave Putney at the end of the 2022 school year for several months. I have had time to process feelings of sadness, gratitude, and excitement that many of you will share in the coming days. Emily has been an exceptional leader of The Putney School. In her 14 years, she has markedly elevated the school’s status in the academic world. Despite the challenges of the last year, Putney is in a very good position. We have sound financial standing, remarkable people working for and with us, a connected and committed student body, and a board that is ready and eager to help Putney envision a more robust future.
Emily will be missed. She has been a true pleasure to work with. She has an incredible ability to strategize years in advance, particularly when it comes to having a vision of the different roles people might play in an organization. As a result, the administrative team, faculty, and staff that Putney enjoys is stronger than ever. She is an educator above all else and understands what education can and should be in ways that few others are able. She has been an amazing fit for Putney because of her willingness to stretch herself and those around her to do what is right and best even when it is not easy. I have often heard her describe people that she holds in high regard as being the smartest person in the room. I have found that to be an accurate description of her much of the time and am grateful for having had the opportunity to work with and get to know Emily.
Major transitions are valuable times for imagination and creativity. As we embark on a national, if not global, search for a new head of school, the Putney community has an opportunity for growth. Done well, we are sure to find the right person to lead us to be a better institution than we are. Our position as a leader in progressive education will, no doubt, attract many exceptional candidates. We have largely stayed ahead of the educational curve since our founding as an “experiment” and I am confident that we can continue to break new ground. It is a privilege for me to sit on the board and I look forward to finding the next head of school that can not only strengthen our vision of a Putney education but add their own strengths as well.
I am grateful that we have 18 months to celebrate Emily’s tenure and to take advantage of her skills and foresight to help us envision Putney as we want it to be in the future. Emily is adept at clearly identifying aspects of Putney that she believes warrant improvement and, as most of you know, she is not bashful about sharing her views. She has always been clear in her opinion that well-planned and timely succession of leadership is a strength for any organization. The executive committee of the board has been discussing this transition for some time now and many of the preliminary steps have been initiated.
Choosing a new head of school necessitates that the full board of trustees is focused on recognizing areas where we have fallen short, identifying the strengths that we want to embrace and clearly conveying that message to the candidates who will come before us. It will require a great deal of time and energy from the entire campus community as well as others beyond the hill. We look forward to collaborating with many of you in this process.
I am excited because I know that this board is prepared to be visionary, inclusive, and thorough as we embark on the process of searching for the next remarkable head of our school.
Joshua D. Laughlin ’82, P’21, ’23
Chair of the Board of Trustees