Hearts of the Mountain: Adolescents, a Teacher, and a Living School

Hearts of the Mountain: Adolescents, a Teacher, and a Living School sketches an utterly unique entity: an independent and virtual one-room middle school in the Green Mountains of Vermont. Hearts of the Mountain 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.

“If education interests you—if kids interest you— this is a magical story.” —Bill McKibben

Advance Praise
“. . . I couldn’t put it down. . . . At North Branch School, a group of youngsters of varying ages sit together—or sometimes by themselves or with a few peers—and work on making sense of the world they live in. They do this with each other’s 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.
—Deborah Meier, author The Power of Their Ideas, Lessons to America from a Small School in Harlem

“ 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 beauty—the 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 novelist’s skill and a true teacher’s wisdom.”   —Mike Rose, author of Possible Lives: The Promise of Public Education in America

LIFE IS THE SCHOOL – The North Branch School, Ripton, Vermont from Vermont Folklife Center on Vimeo.


About the Author
Tal Birdsey is the head teacher, co-founder, and director of the school. He teaches writing, literature, social studies, art, student government, and ethics and serves as the school counselor, soccer coach, and newsletter and literary magazine editor. He’s been State of Vermont licensed and certified and has 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, entitled A Room for Learning: The Making of a School in Vermont  (St. Martin’s Press). His second book forthcoming from Green Writers Press (spring 2019), Hearts of the Mountain, is about a year in the life of teaching and learning at the North Branch School.


Hearts of the Mountain: Adolescents, a Teacher, and a Living School
Tal Birdsey
Nonfiction / Education
$21.95 for print
Paperback Original
352 pages / 6 x 9
ISBN: 978-1-7328540-1-7
Pub Date: February 16, 2021
Green Writers Press

Distributors: Midpoint Trade / IPG, Ingram, Baker & Taylor.
Rights sold: All rights available.
Rights Contact: Dede Cummings, dede@greenwriterspress.com
German Language Rights Contact: Oliver Brauer, brauer@agentur-brauer.de

Advance Reader Copies, digital or print, available in January 2019.