The Putney School - Review #8
About the Author:
|Years Attended Boarding School:||2007-2010|
|Sports and Activities:||Student Trustee, Cabin Dweller, Dorm Head, Speakers Committee, Barn Head, Barn, Dinner Waiter, Gardening, Farm, Woods Crew, Skiing, Breakfast Crew|
|College Enrolled:||Columbia University|
|Home Town, State:||Englewood, NJ|
1.) What do you think makes your school unique relative to other boarding schools?
The sense community at Putney is just incredible. Sometimes I forget that I am at with students and teachers. I see them all as part of my family now and I find myself using the words home and school interchangeably.
2.) What was the best thing that happened to you in boarding school?
Everything here was the best thing. There are two things that particularly stick out to me though. One is living in a cabin. As as junior you can apply to live in a wood stove heated cabin in the woods your senior year. I had a chance to do it and it was just incredible!!! There is no plumbing, and solar electricity. It was very rustic and I'd never done anything like it before, but now I'm hesitant to move back into something modern! It was the highest honor because you live with just one other student, unsupervised, away from central campus. I've gone from an NYC girl to a country girl.
3.) What might you have done differently during your boarding school experience?
I would have tried WAY more new things. Played a sport, tried a few more arts opportunities... ADVICE: when someone offers to teach you something and the only qualification is that you have some enthusiasm about it TAKE THE OFFER. There is no place else that I know where you can just try something totally new without any experience. Putney is a great place to do that.
4.) What did you like most about your school?
Everything. I guess I liked that there were so many life lessons I can take from this place and bring with me everywhere I go for the rest of my life. (Nearly) everyone who went here says it was the highlight of their life and I have to agree. The other great thing was my relationship with my adviser. She has great advice, but she is also my best friend and will be in my life for way more than just Putney. A lot of kids here have that sort of connection and that is another really unique thing about this school.
5.) Do you have any final words of wisdom for visiting or incoming students to your school?
Apply for a cabin, run for a leadership position, explore the woods, and live in white cottage. OH! And try not to be shy, it's hard, I was too, but at Putney there is really no reason to be. Everyone is so nice and accepting and looking for any way that they can help you, whether you are friends or not.
1.) Describe the academics at your school - what did you like most about it?
The goal at Putney is to get everyone to really understand what they are learning, not simply to memorize. Classes are discussion based and we try to avoid sticking to a single textbook,if any. Teachers are available almost all day, everyday for any sort of help. Both teachers and students are on a first name basis. All this helps encourage students to ask questions and get really invested in their subjects. It's great!
1.) Describe the athletics at your school - what did you like most about it?
Putney is unique in that it allows any student to participate in any sport they like. There are no try-outs and previous experience is not important. The small size of the school lends itself to this way of running the sports program. We are here to learn and have fun, sports follow those same standards.
1.) Describe the arts program at your school - what did you like most about it?
The arts program at Putney is absolutely fantastic! There are actually too many opportunities for any one student to try in their time here. We have everything from weaving to blacksmithing, to ceramics, to stained glass, and then all your basics like painting and drawing. Personal studios are available for any student that applies. Not many schools can say that. The teachers are all phenomenal working artists themselves and, as with sports, previous experience is not necessary.
1.) Describe the extracurriculars offered at your school - what did you like most about it?
Putney has a work program which all students must participate in, in order to graduate. Each trimester the student has a new 6-day "work-job". These range from working in our barn to washing dishes at dinner time. It is our own personal mandatory volunteering program. It builds a really good work ethic. A great example of this was the "work day" the students organized to raise money for Haiti by doing household chores at local homes in the area. The work-jobs also help to eliminate the focus on which kids are privileged or underprivileged, it levels the playing field.
1.) Describe the dorm life in your school - what did you like most about it?
Again, its that sense of community that is so unique to Putney. Putney dorm life is really like having lots of brothers or sisters living with you at school. The dorms are pretty small, from 14 to 28 people, and all of them look like little colonial houses. There are two adult dorm heads living in apartments attached to the dorms and two student dorm heads who live in the dorm. The adult dorm heads are also faculty and teach a class or have some administrative job, so you see them outside of the dorm too. In the evenings someone is always on duty to make sure students are ok, bake dorm snacks for everyone, or just hang out.
1.) Describe the dining arrangements at your school.
The food here is way better than the food served at other schools. We are fortunate enough to have chefs that are food-conscious and try to buy local when they can. There is sit-down, family style dinner four nights a week. Teachers and students all sit together at 8 person tables while students with dinner jobs serve the food. Every other meal is buffet style. Everyone serves themselves and when it is nice, people sit outside in the grass.
1.) Describe the school's town and surrounding area.
There is a little village, Putney village, with a co-op a couple of boutiques, a diner, a bakery, a pizza parlor, and thrift shop. It's small and cute, but pretty quiet most of the time. On the weekends there are trips to the mall or to Brattleboro, which is about 25 minutes away. In Brattleboro there are more shops and more people, it's pretty active and a fun place to hang out. Otherwise, there are mostly farms, woods, and quaint houses all around the school. It is very scenic, and in the springtime there is no more beautiful place in the world.
2.) Describe the social life at your school - what did you like most about it?
Putney is a great place to be who you are. No one here judges and we do not try to norm each other. In fact, the weirder and more different you are, the better. We love quirks and strange things that, at another school, you might try to hide. If you seem comfortable with yourself, people love you that much more, and if you don't, students here try to help you become more confident and comfortable with yourself.
|7:00 AM||wake up|
|9:30 AM||milk-lunch (school-wide mid-morning snack)|
|10:15 AM||free (do homework)|
|3:15 PM||afternoon activity|
|6:00 PM||dinner, and then after dinner, my job (walking the cows to the pasture), homework, 10 pm in-dorms|
|12:15 AM||lunch, classes over|
|1:30 PM||go to brattleboro|
|5:30 PM||dinner, my job, homework|
|8:00 PM||hang out, maybe there's a school party, movies...|
|11:00 PM||fall asleep sometime later after chatting with my dorm family|
Alumni Reviews Review School
- Review Description
- Bard College My school had a phenomenal work program, where students were expected to complete jobs around the school 6 days a week. These jobs included working on the farm, preparing meals, cleaning up after meals, cleaning. . .
- Earlham College Putney is a vibrant community where teachers and students are actual friends. It’s conducive to personal growth and a place where I and other students found our passions. Everyone is excited and working on something. . .
- Gap Year Putney is a coeducational boarding and day school in Vermont. It values and practices progressive education, and has a diverse and rigorous curriculum. It boasts a strong academic program, along with a work job program. . .
Several things make boarding school special. The learning, the community, the sports. All these and more.
A private school in its infancy is quite different from the mature community it becomes over time. I wonder what the founders of these five schools would think about them today. I bet they would be very proud of their creations.
Sending our children off to boarding school in the fall of 2020 raises questions about their safety and other corona virus issues. We address some of your concerns here.