Picture a school where students are free to influence how they learn. They work on a dairy farm and in the gardens. They play various sports and express themselves through the arts. They become involved, influential members of the community. Welcome to The Putney School — a progressive boarding high school that has been shaping active, critical thinkers and leaders in their communities for over 80 years.
Located in the Green Mountain State of Vermont, the campus occupies 500 acres of pristine hilltop woods and fields. Freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors come from various cultures and backgrounds, creating a truly diverse community within the school. They form close relationships with each other, their teachers, as well as the natural wonders surrounding them.
Students bring mindfulness and responsibility to every role, especially building their own future. See, The Putney School operates on the concept of sustainability — not just of nature, but the individual. Everything a student does in school helps them build their voice and grow into purposeful citizens with the ability to thrive in any situation and transform for the best.
Playing by strengths and passions
Students of The Putney School play an active role in their education. They seize charge of their pursuits, whether in academia, creative arts, or leadership. This student-led, project-based approach nurtures young people who are actively engaged in their day-to-day, forming an invaluable foundation for their adult life.
It all begins from their first day in school, where their teachers work with them to identify their passions and talents and ways of learning and leading. Students have the freedom to practice and develop their talents and skills and at the same time, they can try the wide variety of exciting learning opportunities on offer — and there is no safer space to explore than within the Putney community.
These are the building blocks of progressive education, in which students make their own decisions, think critically, and work collaboratively to sustain their learning, their growth, and their own community . From the Afternoons and Athletics programme to the end-of-term Project Weeks, opportunities abound for every well-rounded learner. On top of that, learning here encompasses a wide range of disciplines in the visual and performing arts.
Facilitating diverse arts exploration
The Putney School provides an immersive environment for arts education, inviting students to discover over 20 possibilities alongside their studies. They pursue music, dance, as well as visual, literary, and performing arts. The Evening Arts programme allows them to explore these opportunities under the guidance of community artists, while the Academic Arts programme develops both creative and technical skills for the long run. There’s also a Summer Arts programme featuring intensive workshops in all art forms.
“When I think of arts at Putney … I mostly come to think of the art classes, more than the actual art I was creating. It was always so much fun and interesting to come to class because you never really knew what was waiting for you,” shares student Thea from Denmark. “Art classes for me had always been about painting specific figures and drawing specific shapes; however, art classes at Putney were about everything and anything you could come to think of. There are no boundaries or limits to creativity at Putney. That’s mostly what I love about the school.”
Beyond a range of music, dance, and theatre classes, students here get involved in different niche arts which are rare finds in high school. Love to create functional items? Take up blacksmithing, weaving, or woodworking. Got an eye for detail? Perhaps you’d enjoy making stained glass, jewellery, or kinetic sculptures. These activities challenge young people to follow their curiosities within a supportive group which sets their creativity ablaze.
Each promise a truly immersive experience. “I enjoy the moment playing with lights and shadows in Putney’s darkroom while having Bill Evans’s tunes as background music. At this moment, composition, contrast, exposure time, and the beep sound from the projector become my whole world,” enthuses student Lingwen from China.
At The Putney School, students are not just enthusiasts but artists refining their craft. Their efforts are recognised and rewarded accordingly. Just recently, 23 students were honoured by the Vermont Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, which opens the door to exhibition opportunities and scholarships. Their poetry, photographs, paintings, and prints were on display at the Brattleboro Museum & Art Centre from February 19 till March 6.
Finding stability and sustainability at The Putney School
Here, purpose is found in responsibility. From leading dorms to sitting with responsibility on committees, there are more than 50 leadership positions in which students sharpen their ability to make decisions and drive causes. These values are extended to how they interact with the environment, foster collaborations, and uplift the community.
As Head of School Emily Jones puts it, The Putney School is a community of people who think for themselves, invent, design, experiment, compose, write, build and chase down new ideas. A world citizen moulded in this environment gains lifelong confidence in their own talents and abilities. That is the key to unlocking their true potential.