The Putney School is the very best thing that has ever happened to me. Here, I learned so many things that I was interested in, but never had the chance to get involved with before. For examples, my Fiber Arts teacher helped me so much while I tried to learn fashion design (fashion design is not offered as a class) and have opened so many new doors in that art for me; our inhouse graphic designer sponsored my project week (what we have instead of exams) to learn graphic design without having any prior experience.
The Putney School is a place where kids are expected to just go out there and create amazing opportunities for themselves, with tremendous supports from amazing faculty. Teachers don't tell you what to do, but inspire you to do things, and then help you to realize it. Not a single time, has a teacher looked down on my ideas. Over my two years here, I have witnessed how this place shapes wonderful kids into independent, strong, determined individuals who are all pursuing very different things. Yet, these are also people who value working together for the community.
Students get involved very strongly with student government: working with the board of trustees, heads of school, dorm heads, et. These things really develop integrity, honesty, and fairness in students as they realize that they have tremendous responsibility to the community. This is just among many other things like how classes are taught, how people treat one another, etc that contribute into students' development of integrity, honesty, and fairness.
I just read what someone wrote about Putney, and I'd point out several points to prevent misunderstanding. This person said, "There was never a spare moment for my personal artwork advancement," but that's not at all true. Although school does not emphasize on grades, but I got straight As on all of the courses I took. I took a lot of time getting prepared for calsses, I still had plenty of time to get prepared for SAT on my own and read great literature. I haven't seen someone who manages time wisely among who say they don't have time because of work. Manage your time wisely. If you work on your assignment during the conference blocks and the second half of the lunch time, you will always have more than three hours for yourself in the afternoon or evening. Of course, I had jobs, afternoon activities, and evening arts. And many schools emphasize on athletics, and Putney is one of the few schools that are not so entrenched in athletics. They will tell you to do it, because it's good for your health. Unless your in varsity, you only have to do 3 hours a week. I cannot process how this would take all of your free time to work on your art pieces.
This school is not what you think it is. They may seem to be a progressive independent school meant for individuals. However, there is such an emphasis on work and arts that the students do not have time to find their true passions. I was forced into athletic afternoon activities, when I wished to focus on my artwork. There was never a spare moment for my personal artwork advancement. When I had problems with my self-esteem and the school, I would email the dean of students. He was very slow in responding and never once met with me in person. My mother had to force him to have a meeting with me for him to even consider it. The school has one focus, and that is work. The student's health or goals hardly matter to the staff. In my time at Putney, I noticed that while the school is small there are noticeable friend circles that exclude others. It is not an inclusive environment for anyone to thrive in. Use your own judgement, but be careful when making a decision about sending your children to the Putney School.
Putney is truly one of a kind, offering an exceptional context for the development of well rounded, engaged, thoughtful and hard working teenagers. Teachers at Putney do not just pay lip service to the lofty ideals of progressive education: they very definitely walk the walk. The current Head of School sets a wise and compassionate tone for the community. Things like the work program (all students have jobs!), project weeks (replacing conventional exam periods) and "Long Fall" expeditions set Putney apart.
Putney is a fantastic school for the right child. Most students are boarding students so it helps a lot of their independent and responsible. Putney has a creative and rigorous academic environment but really shines in the arts and in the broad range of activities that students can be involved in outside of the classroom. Examples include working a a functioning farm, weaving, cutting wood to heat the buildings and many others.