Work Days

At Putney we believe in the importance of physical labor.

Jean Hinton Rosner, a lifelong activist for social change, believed, as her mother (school founder Carmelita Hinton) did, in the value of work. This is why she is honored each fall with a day when the school takes a break from classes and afternoon activities to do the sorts of chores that need doing annually or semi-annually and require many hands.

In addition to reaching out to help with community service during Spring Work Day, Fall Work Day, and our annual Charitable Work Day, there is a weekly afternoon activity to get students into the community to lend a hand on all sorts of sustainability initiatives, from improving erosion control on local recreational trails to eradicating invasive plant species.

Community Service

Nothing sustains a community like food, so every fall since 1935 we’ve invited everyone to campus to celebrate nature’s bounty at Harvest Festival. Last year we made a prayer flag with everyone’s contribution of what they will do to change the world this year.

Even our kitchen reaches out. With help from former Science Teacher Hans Estrin ’85, Executive Chef Marty Brennan-Sawyer invited a group of local institutional food service providers to explore the possibilities of farm-to-table foods on an industrial level. Not only can it be done, but it can be done within the constraints of a tight budget.

It’s no surprise that our long history of sustainable practices and environmental education has yielded alumni committed to the cause, whether it’s Bob Raynolds ’69 coming back to explain Climate Change in Geologic Time, Joey Ellis ’03 saving the oceans with sculpture, or this group of alums who know that sustainability starts at home.

The Work Program

We believe that students are capable and trustworthy, and that big learning and big joy come from contributing to a community. The work program has been a part if Putney since its founding; it teaches leadership, teamwork, stewardship, and grit. Plus, it's actually fun.



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