Meet the Admission Team

Our team is an eclectic group with divergent backgrounds and histories. We all believe deeply in the value of progressive education and enjoy seeing its positive impact for Putney students every day. To learn more about why we love Putney, read on!

John Barrengos

Director of Admission and Financial Aid

B.A. Tufts University
M.A. Columbia University Teachers College
Ed.M. Columbia University Teachers College
Ed.D. Columbia University Teachers College

Why do you love working at Putney?

I have had a professional crush on Putney’s confident embrace of progressive education since I was in graduate school in the 1990s. I’ve always loved admission and seen it as an intersection of the present and future tense of a school community. The caliber of our students and parents and the mesh and match of our families with our aspirations defines the potential of our school.

Helping a family to choose the right educational community for their child’s next chapter asks that we carefully come to understand kids and their families, share our lenses with the family, and imagine a child’s learning journey through our school.

I get to live and work at Putney.  My wife serves on the faculty, my daughter just graduated after four powerful years, and my son will join in September.  Our family lives on campus. I love being here because our values are fully invited into our community and our work. The physical setting is stunning; the community is grounded and suffers little pretentiousness, and adults share a commitment to creating learning journeys that honor a student’s curiosity and passion and that attend to a student’s learning as their primary goal.

How do you continue to be a lifelong learner?

Learning is my fuel.  After college, I began working as a banker for hospitals and schools and social service agencies. I’d never taken a finance class, but my work asked me to design programs in Lotus 123.  When I left banking and began working in schools, I learned about educational design, teaching, admissions, fundraising, board work, and strategic planning. I’ve had the honor of working in nearly every job that helps schools operate, and I enjoyed investing five years in graduate study of schools and the organizational and group dynamics that animate them. At Putney, I get the pleasure of learning with each new student and family I meet. I get to (re)learn how to sing in a choral group as I join the Madrigals during most school years, and I get to (re)learn social psychology each time I recreate it with my students in class.

What’s your favorite season on campus?

My favorite is the change of most seasons.  I love the shift from summer to fall, because the start of school has always felt, deep in my bones, like a renewal of life.  The shift to winter is the coziest time to hang out with my family, and the shift to spring is vital and welcome after one or two more weeks of winter than I can tolerate.

Amara Cunningham

Admission Office Manager

Why do you love working at Putney?

My job at Putney puts me in a front-row seat for transformative educational experiences. Not only do I get to introduce visitors to the school for the first time, I also am afforded opportunities to see students progress throughout the course of their time here. It’s pretty affirming to see all of the beautiful things that happen here: shy students finding their voices; artists finding their medium; activists finding their causes, just to name a few. And to think it all starts in the Admission Office!

How do you continue to be a lifelong learner?

I’m a musician, so I’m always learning new music and technique. It’s hard for me to believe that I would still be growing and changing so much if I hadn’t found my place at Putney. Existing in this community has helped me realize that there are always opportunities for me if I’m willing to push and better myself, so I keep striving.

What’s your favorite season on campus?

I will always feel attached to summers at Putney. In my mind, summer on the hill is a singular expression of that season. I began working at Putney in mid-July and reveled at the sight of the morning fog as it lifted from the banks of the Connecticut River each day. The fondest place in my memories will always be reserved for those verdant, bright summer mornings.

Jessa Harger

Admission Counselor

M.A. SIT Graduate Institute, World Learning
B.A. Cornell College

Why do you love working at Putney?

I love showing families a learning environment that empowers students and keeps the love of learning alive. Being in a community that encourages all parts of the process allows for so much creativity. Watching students discover and hone new talents reminds me that it’s never too late to learn a new skill or pursue a new interest.

How do you continue to be a lifelong learner?

The past few years I have been playing around with drawing and painting.  This summer I started sculling with the Putney Rowing Club and have loved learning a new sport! I was fortunate to take a group of students to France last spring and had a great time learning to speak French.

What’s your favorite place and season on campus?

A golden hour ski on the 10k after a good snow can’t be beat. But then the technicolor of a crisp autumn morning evokes a cozy, yet exciting feeling I try to hold on to all year long.

Libby Holmes

Director of International Programs

B.A. Miami University
M.A.T. School for International Training

Why do you love working at Putney?

Putney creates and recreates a remarkable and compelling community each year, comprised of energetic new students from all over the world, seasoned returning students prepared to lead and contribute, and a generous-hearted, committed faculty and staff of able adults, some of whom are long-time friends and others who are more recent arrivals offering new ways to understand education and fresh camaraderie.  Together, we make Putney more than just a school.

How do you continue to be a lifelong learner?

Far from my earlier studies in literature and language teaching, I’m now learning about native plants, natural gardening, and other horticultural matters.

What’s your favorite place and/or season on campus?

I admit I love my office best.  It’s a place of both quiet focus and of close collaboration and conversation with students. What’s more, the location gives me a broad view of campus, and of the local ‘travels’ of student friend groups, teachers, the occasional horseback-riding, mountain-biking, or cross-country skiing group, campus pups, and other friends in the school community.

I love the first warm days after Spring’s new grass has filled the lawns, when first-year students finally believe what we’ve been telling them: winter and mud DO eventually give way to lilacs and apple blossoms and newborn calves.

Brian Quarrier ’05

Admission Counselor

B.S. Bates College

Why do you love working at Putney?

After graduating from Putney in 2005, I have thought a lot about coming back to work here. It’s special when you find a spot that allows you to grow up and be who you want to be without pressure to conform to social norms. Being a student at Putney allowed me to follow my passions and pushed me to excel, and that is true for me as an adult now. I am very excited to help students find a place that will push them to be their best selves.

How do you continue to be a lifelong learner?

I have stayed in education my whole life because of all of the opportunities to continue to learn. Currently, I am on a creation kick. I love making things: wooden boats, bamboo bikes, leather shoes, sewing fleeces, blacksmithing, woodturning, ceramics, weaving, hide tanning, you name it I am excited to try. Making things forces me to think creatively and problem solve. Every medium has its own challenge and strength, figuring out what they are and how to use them to build something beautiful and functional is a joy.

What’s your favorite place and season on campus?

I love Vermont because of all of the seasons and the constant change, so I don’t think I can pick a favorite. I love the fall for the cooler weather, the beautiful foliage and makes me think of rock climbing. I always look forward to the winter for xc skiing, and by the time winter is over spring is so refreshing. Summer gets me excited about being on the water.

Michael Sardinas

Admission Counselor and Associate Director of Financial Aid 

B.A. Marlboro College
M.S. Marlboro Graduate Center

Why do you love working at Putney?

I have spent twelve years at The Putney School in various capacities, from working as a dorm parent and in the technology department to teaching wilderness skills and as Dean of Students. I strive to work at an organization I believe in, and I cannot think of a more perfect fit than Putney. Putney teaches work ethic; the cows need to be fed and milked, the firewood needs to be split for our wood fired bread oven and the snow must be shoveled. Seniors who graduate have the ability to look around, see what needs to be done and do it. Putney encourages curiosity. Project Week is a perfect example of this. Students are in control of their education, and because of this learning isn’t a box to check, but becomes a fulfilling endeavor. Putney builds lifelong friendships. Watching the alumni come back, it doesn’t matter if they graduated in 1945, 1985 or 2005, the friendships and community built at Putney are rock solid. I love working at Putney because I believe in Putney.

How do you continue to be a lifelong learner?

I enjoy reading. When I started at Putney many years ago a colleague would sit with me at lunch and ask “what are you reading?” This led me to re-learn my love of reading, and from that point on I’ve tried to always be reading at least one book. On the other side of the spectrum, I like to know how things work, and I enjoy being self-sufficient. Carpentry, home electrical and how to properly paint a room are all skills I’ve learned by doing, sometimes with the help of a friend, and always with trial and error. Finally, I enjoy talking with people and learning about them. Everybody has their own unique story, and I have always appreciated hearing what events in a person’s life make them who they are.

What’s your favorite place and season on campus?

It is hard to pick a favorite. Summer has dark evenings where the air is lit only with a sea of fireflies, and hot summer days are perfect for canoeing down a river or swimming in a brook. Fall’s vibrant colors and cool breezes partner with the vitality of Putney students arriving on campus and laying the foundation for a new year. The energy is positive, the view optimistic, and the wood stoves crackle with the first fire of the season. Winter’s crisp and crystal clear air welcomes our first Project Week, where classes end and students work independently on two self-designed projects. Spring snowmelt provides water for the Snowdrops; flowers brave enough to push through the last of the snow. Spring ends with the second Project Week of the year and culminates with graduation, where a parade of seniors ride all manner of vehicles down the Truck Road and gather one final time as Putney students. Which of those is my favorite? I don’t think I can choose.

Our Admission Committee: Students & Adults

Students serve on our admission committee and help shape the future Putney School community.