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.

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.

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.

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.


Karla Baldwin

Director of Theater Program

B.A. Smith College

Why do you love working at Putney?

Putney is a place deeply connected to the land and to making human connections. It is a place for young people to nurture their spirits as well as their minds. It has been a privilege to be surrounded by these seasonal forces of nature and human exploration; shifting and growing together.

How do you continue to be a lifelong learner?

Being part of a school full of vibrant, energetic, and passionate young people who are constantly evolving within a learning environment inspires me to remain open to learning along side them. It is their probing questions and their daring discoveries about life that keep me alive to the many possibilities.

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

I have two favorite places. My classroom, Barnes Assembly Hall, carries with it many decades of Putney students meeting together as a community. Barnes also carries the history of many theater rehearsals and classes where I spent many joyful hours watching and working with students as they thoughtfully developed powerful stories.
My other favorite spot is on the grass, near the KDU, being able to stare at the sunset on the western horizon. Every sunset at Putney is breathtaking.

Our Admission Committee: Students & Adults

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