Putney people frequently ask how the school responds to the important topics our society wrestles with. Equity and inclusion, climate change, rising tuition costs, and more. In the last year, the questions have centered, overwhelmingly, on artificial intelligence and the recent explosion of ChatGPT and its ilk. What on earth will we do about this? How do we teach our students to use technology responsibly? Is it an asset or a threat? In this issue, we dive into that question.
We have a lot of alumni who graduate into the world and live lives guided by their love for and connection to the natural world. In this issue, we meet a small handful of them, including siblings Rayna ’93 and Soren deNiord ’96, landscape architects whose work centers around ecological resiliency; Clara Rowe ’07, CEO of Restor, a mapping and open data platform that supports, promotes, and connects a multitude of environmental causes; and soon, Henry Stephenson-Ryan ’23, whose work understanding the population dynamics and ecosystems of the forests that surround the campus will reverberate for decades to come.
In this issue we explore the concept of growth through a few lenses. We meet Putney’s new head of school, Danny O’Brien. We check in on the literal growth of this little school in the form of two new dormitories. We witness the growth of our students through their work growing our food. We reflect on the life and work of longtime Putney faculty Brian Cohen, who helped students grow into artists as he honed his own skills and pursued his artistic passions.
In this issue, we intentionally slow down, slice the Putney cake to show you its layers. As we publicly launch our next campaign, Sing it Forward: A Campaign for Putney’s Future, we tell stories of timeless student experiences rooted in nature, in art and exploration. And we take one last time with Emily, whose steady presence has grounded our work.
At Putney, we teach failure. We teach for failure. We teach about failing often, and well. There is, as you will learn reading this issue’s stories, more to learn there than there is in straightforward success. This issue’s theme—Drive—captures the energy that sees people through challenging situations, “failures,” and creative dilemmas.