Jennifer DesMaisons, Learning to be Learners at The Putney School

The Path to Higher Ed is a SchooLinks hosted podcast community that explores trending topics and issues in the area of college and career readiness. Our featured guests are pushing education forward by constantly learning from, innovating and applying their college and career readiness practices. Listen to gain their insights and apply them to your own college and career readiness practices.



Today, we’re speaking with Jennifer DesMaisons, Director of College Counseling at The Putney School. At The Putney School, students are being developed into global citizens through a progressive education model. A big focus of their approach to progressive education is building college and career readiness through farm-based, experiential learning. In this episode, Jennifer details how her professional experiences in college admissions informs her approach with students at The Putney School.



About Jennifer DesMaisons


Heading into her 12th year of serving as the Director of College Counseling at The Putney School, a progressive independent boarding high school in rural Vermont, Jennifer is able to apply her unique insights as a someone who previously worked in college admissions for 10 years. Her other roles include Senior Class Dean, faculty dorm parent and admissions committee member. From 2012–2014, she also served on the Board of Directors for Colleges That Change Lives, a non-profit organization “dedicated to the advancement and support of a student-centered college search process.”


The sign on her door reads: “College is a match to be made, not a prize to be won.” For the past 20 years, she has devoted her life and career to helping students work through the overwhelming and exciting process of successfully moving through high school and making decisions about college. She is fascinated by students’ stories and their wide range of backgrounds, aspirations, complexities and challenges that come along with finding the “right fit” for education. Her ultimate mission is to help students confidently take the reins of their own lives.



About The Putney School


The Putney School is a progressive, secondary school for boarding and day students, situated on a 500-acre working dairy farm in southern Vermont. It is a co-educational, college-preparatory boarding school, with a day-student component, located 12 miles (19 km) outside of Brattleboro, Vermont. The school prides itself on teaching to the whole individual, through discussion-based humanities classes, the scientific discovery method, extensive artistic opportunities, and a student-led work program.


Central to the Progressive Education tenets articulated by its founder Carmelita Hinton in 1935, is the vision that education is something to be actively pursued rather than passively received. As such, The school emphasizes academics, a work program, the arts, and physical activity. The school’s curriculum is intended to teach the value of labor, art, community, ethics, and scholarship for individual growth.



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