Hearts of the Mountain: Adolescents, a Teacher, and a Living SchoolÂ sketches an utterly unique entity: an independent and virtual one-room middle school in the Green Mountains of Vermont. Hearts of the MountainÂ takes a deep look into an intimate, wild, and unpredictable year of learning, in and out of the classroom, with a diverse collection of funny, profound, troubled, and hopeful adolescents.
âIf education interests youâif kids interest youâ this is a magical story.â âBill McKibben
â. . . I couldn’t put it down. . . . At North Branch School, a group of youngsters of varying ages sit togetherâor sometimes by themselves or with a few peersâand work on making sense of the world they live in. They do this with each otherâs assistance, and the help of a few interesting adults, and all the resources they can get their hands on inside and outside the classroom. These lucky children are in that rare place where everything we know about how humans learn always has and always will be taken seriously. Imagine: a place created for the purpose of maximizing human learning, designed with that purpose in mind! . . . These are the stories about remarkable classrooms and schools that we need to restore our appreciation for how remarkable living things of all sorts are, but humans most remarkably so. Every last one.
âDeborah Meier, author The Power of Their Ideas, Lessons to America from a Small School in Harlem
âÂ I promise you, from the first page, the first few paragraphs, you will be captured by this book. Birdsey is a beautiful writer, and he tells a story of great power and beautyâthe story of a year in the life of a rural school and the lives of twenty-seven memorable students, their time together rendered with a novelistâs skill and a true teacherâs wisdom.â Â âMike Rose, author of Possible Lives: The Promise of Public Education in America
“I love this book with its beautiful storytelling, wisdom and sense of authentic hope in childrenÂ and the future. I admire and respect this book for I love its teacher author and the children who inhabit this holding environment for growth and well-being. It is a living learning communityÂ not only preparing young people for the future. It is also a dynamic, organic community forÂ living in the present in the shared purpose of human agency and meaning-making. AÂ community that honors the wholeness of each member, the âfull development of the human personality.â It is concerned both with the academic expectations of a school, but moreÂ importantly with the social-emotional-ethical learning that Tal found at an embryonicÂ community, founded fifty years ago in Atlanta, the Paideia School. I was there at the creation ofÂ that school as a 22-year-old aide in the half-day kindergarten while studying for a Ph.D. inÂ Human Studies at Emory. Talâs family joined us in those first years and contributed greatly toÂ the life-blood of the community. I sense deeply what this intentionally small, rural North BranchÂ School in the mountains of Vermont must be because I know its taproots- what it values in howÂ it sustains a living community. But community doesnât just happen, even in a small school. ToÂ be an authentic community it must be organized around people and relationships. A livingÂ school is as it becomes: a caring place, a democratic place, a creative place, an inquisitive place,Â a just place, a communicative place, and a celebrative place. The hearts of the mountain.”
âWalter Enloe,Â Senior Director,Â Leadership, Learning, and Teaching,Â EdVisions,Â Gordon B. Sanders Chair in Education,Â Hamline University
Reviews & Media
“For 21 years, Tal Birdsey has been the head-teacher at The North Branch School, an independent school for students grades 7-9 in Ripton.Â
The new book dives deep into a year of learning and living at the small school, which is nestled in the woods and mountains near Robert Frostâs summer home.
Hearts of the Mountain: A Teacher, Adolescents, and a Living School, published by Vermontâs Green Writers Press, details a magical and thrilling year of learning in the school.
In novelistic detail, Birdsey sketches an utterly unique entity: an independent and virtual one-room middle school in the Green Mountains of Vermont. Itâs a deep look into an intimate, wild and unpredictable year of learning, in and out of the classroom, with a diverse collection of funny, profound, troubled and hopeful adolescents.Â Birdsey published his first book about the North Branch School, A Room for Learning: The Making of a School in Vermont, in 2009, from St. Martinâs Press.” âAddison County IndependentÂ
About the Author
Tal Birdsey is the headÂ teacher, co-founder, and director of the school. He teaches writing, literature, social studies, art, student government, and ethics and serves as theÂ school counselor, soccer coach, and newsletter and literary magazine editor. He’s been State of Vermont licensed and certified and hasÂ taught previously at the Paideia School in Atlanta, Georgia, and abroad in Taiwan. He has published poetry in journals around the country and is a working visual artist. In 2008, he published a book about the founding and first year of North Branch School, entitledÂ A Room for Learning: TheÂ Making of a School in VermontÂ Â (St. Martin’s Press). His second book forthcoming from Green Writers Press (spring 2019),Â Hearts of the Mountain,Â is about a year in the life of teaching and learning at the North Branch School.
Hearts of the Mountain:Â Adolescents, a Teacher, and a Living School
Nonfiction / Education
$21.95 for print
358 pages / 6 x 9
Pub Date: October 22, 2021
Green Writers Press
Rights sold: All rights available.
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