The Putney School, located in rural Putney, Vermont, is a coeducational boarding and day school for grades 9-12 founded in 1935 by educational pioneer, Carmelita Hinton, who wanted “to make school life a more real, less sheltered, less self-centered venture.”
Putney School is a progressive school, which means we believe people learn best by doing, not by being told. We foster intellectual freedom and student agency. We believe teenagers are capable and trustworthy. We regard the curriculum as everything we do. Rigorous academics, the work program, the arts, and physical activity, all combine to create students who understand what it takes to get things done. We value transparency with our students and our willingness to engage them in the running of the school. Because our demanding academic program is balanced with physical work, play, and arts for everyone, our days are very busy. Our students are constantly interacting with adults, with whom they become very comfortable. The realities of working the land, caring for animals and contributing to the well-being of a larger community all lead to natural self-discipline and an ability to be constructively self-reflective.
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Most school’s adults are not confident enough to step back from their authority so that students can step into their own. At Putney, student leadership is not decorative, it is substantive. Our student leaders sit with votes on our board of trustees and on our admission committee, for example. Work program, too.