progressive education
progressive education
progressive education
progressive education
A Student-Driven School

Intellectual Freedom

At Putney, you will learn the beautiful art and skill of self-motivation. You will discover issues, actions, and concepts that you care about. You will have ideas and you will want to share them with your community (and beyond). You will be inspired by your friends’ reactions and by conversations with your teachers. Sometimes you will fail—the concept crumbles, the details become roadblocks, the structure falls to pieces, the project takes longer than you ever dreamed—and you will learn how to pick up the pieces, gather information, and try again.

Putney has never had an Advanced Placement (AP) curriculum, and we are now being joined by many of the top schools in the country. Our goal is to help make good citizens by teaching students how to define good questions, how to research and analyze, and how to present their thinking in coherent and compelling ways. None of this can be measured by standardized tests such as the APs, which are necessarily designed to teach students how to answer finite questions others have posed. It is clear to us that colleges understand our program.

There’s no such thing as extracurricular here; learning at Putney takes place every day all day. We offer 100+ classes, including cool electives such as Existentialism, Independent Topics in Science, Sociological Impacts of Food, and Feminist Perspectives in Literature.

Independent Work

With independent work options and advanced topics in every department, there’s no ceiling on how deep you can go in any discipline. If there's something that catches your imagination, you can start exploring it in depth for your very first Project Week, chase it farther with a tutorial or independent topics class, then top it off with a capstone project we call the Senior Exhibition in which you drop a class during your senior spring to go all-out for two months in a specific, long-term project.


If you can find another independent school that has two current students on their board of trustees, with full voting rights, we'd love to hear about it. We're serious when we say students lead at The Putney School. This requires providing you with real responsibility. Don't panic. You don't start at in the top positions because those are filled by elections and other selection processes. But you do have a voice at School Council right from your first meeting. School Council is where we decide important things such as asking that the board of trustees consider socially responsible investing (SRI) because social responsibility is a core value of our mission. As a result, our investment strategy changed—not overnight, but quickly enough that the students who initiated the process were here to see it come to fruition. This is your school. You are responsible for its care. That's leadership.

Student Work

The Putney School would not run without students performing the essential labor of farm chores, meal preparation and cleanup, peer mentoring as student dorm heads, and more. Students comprise the Work Committe, which manages the whole program and ensures that everyone participates and the work gets done.

The Putney School | Elm Lea Farm, 418 Houghton Brook Road, Putney, Vermont 05346-8675
802-387-5566 (main) | 802-387-6278 (fax) | |