The Putney Barn is buzzing with new energy this fall, with five new full-time staff members joining us over the past few months! With backgrounds ranging from travel-writing, to teaching, to nursing, and work experience spanning from Tanzania to Thailand to the Himalaya, the Fab Five — as they’re known around here — bring with them incredible insight and excitement to the Barn. We’ve had a great time getting to know them, and now hope to extend that joy to you. Without further ado, we present to you our five new members of the Putney Barn. Get to know them!
Anna Kayes with local friends on our Community Service Dominica program.
Anna is a graduate of The College of William & Mary. She joins the staff after a year teaching English in India and Thailand and a stint at an educational provider based in Boston. She directs programs in the West Indies, Alaska, Thailand, and London, and also works to coordinate Putney slideshow presentations around the country with alumni families. She has twice led our Community Service Dominica program.
Favorite Moment While Leading a Putney Program: “My favorite moments to date have been the goodbyes at the end of the Dominica program. Its been moving and rewarding to see the tearful send-offs and know that the Putney students built strong relationships not only with one another but also with the local Dominican kids.”
Best Vermont Memory to Date: “Picking blueberries for the first time at the orchard near the Barn with new friends. The blueberries were falling off the bush, it was a clear night, and the sun was setting over the mountains.”
Defense Plan for the Winter: “Snow boots, cross country skis, a hefty block of Vermont cheddar and a Netflix subscription.”
Favorite Saying in a Foreign Language: “The Thai phrase — “a-rai gor dai” which translates loosely to “anything goes.” I probably used this the most, and learned the most from this phrase, throughout the year I spent teaching in Thailand. It was a healthy reminder each day to enjoy the journey and not get caught up in the minutia (and chaos!) of teaching.”
John with community contacts in Tanzania.
John holds a Bachelor’s degree from St. Lawrence University and a Masters in International Relations from Syracuse University. Before starting at Putney, John worked as a teacher, dorm parent, and program manager for an undergraduate study abroad program based in Montana. He has also guided whitewater kayaking and wilderness programming for high school and college students. John oversees programming in Tanzania, India, and South Africa. He also lends a hand with outreach and works with our team to make sure our programs are active, educational, safe, and fun. He has led many Putney programs in Tanzania.
Favorite Moment While Leading a Putney Program: “My favorite moment while leading a Putney program was reaching the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro (19,341’) with my co-leader, Erica, and all twelve of our students on the summer 2012 Cultural Exploration Kilimanjaro program! During the eight-day climb up the Shira Plateau/Western Breach Route we spent a night above 18,000’ in the summit crater, walking among glaciers, exploring Kili’s ash pit, and watching Mt. Meru peeking through the clouds in the distance. The memories from that trip will always stick with me!”
Best Vermont Memory to Date: “Trail running along Windmill Ridge to the Pinnacle! It’s amazing that this run is just a few steps away from the Putney Barn.”
Defense Plan for the Winter: “I plan to bulk up on a lot of Vermont cheese to increase my body’s insulation.”
Favorite Saying in a Foreign Language: Hamna shida, which is Swahili for “no worries.”
Ryanne with a coordinator from one of our Ecuadorian communities.
Ryanne is a graduate of Reed College and joins us after teaching and traveling in Mexico, Argentina, Thailand, and Southeast Asia. She works in outreach — visiting high schools to speak with prospective students and managing Putney’s social media presence — and directs programs in Costa Rica. She has led Community Service Ecuador.
Favorite Moment While Leading a Putney Program: “Sharing a hearty lunch with our Ecuadorian friends after a hard day’s work. I love the hustle and bustle of the whole community coming together — caked with sweat and mud — laughing and joking with one another, the air filled with a mixture of English, Spanish, and the smell of fresh fried patacones.”
Best Vermont Memory to Date: “Picking blueberries at Green Mountain Orchards, paddle-boarding on the Putney pond, and bonfires. I can’t pick just one!”
Defense Plan for the Winter: “Cross-country skis, good friends, and a crock pot.”
Favorite Saying in a Foreign Language: “Dios le pague,” literally “may god repay you” in Spanish. In Ecuador they use this phrase as a deeper, more thoughtful form of “thank you”. I like the idea that someone’s actions may be so great you will never be able to repay them.”
Annie exploring the coastal cliffs of the Emerald Isle while leading our Writing in Ireland program.
Annie joins Putney from the MFA program in Creative Writing at The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. She taught college-level writing courses and (with the help of a National Geographic Young Explorers Grant) drove over 20,000 miles around the United States at night to photograph and write about nocturnal culture. She manages Putney’s photo technology and directs our Writing programs, as well as other Pre-College and Cultural Exploration programs in Europe. She has led programs in Italy, Ireland, and the Czech Republic.
Favorite Moment While Leading a Putney Program: “I had a student who was smart, funny, and kind, but who had been bullied a lot in school. On the last night of the program, we each shared one intangible thing we would be taking back home with us. Hers was the knowledge that people are good, and that she could trust them. Hearing she felt that way was definitely a highlight of my leading experience.”
Best Vermont Memory to Date: “Tubing the West River with friends on an unseasonably warm day in late September. It was sunny and hot (85 degrees!), but the leaves had already changed color and we could see the geese heading south in Vs as we floated downriver for 10 miles.”
Defense Plan for the Winter: “Attack it head-on! I’ve got snowshoes, a crock pot, and a four-wheel drive vehicle. Let’s do this.”
Favorite Saying in a Foreign Language: “Fare e disfare è tutto un lavorare, which means ‘making and unmaking is all work’ in Italian.”
Susannah with her Language Learning France co-leader at Putney’s leader orientation.
Susannah was previously working in Washington, D.C. as a researcher for the chief curator at the National Museum of African Art. Before moving to Vermont, she broke away from the museum world to conduct research on Mount Everest in Nepal. She followed an international team of climbers on their expedition to Everest’s summit, and documented their operations for a study of decision-making in extreme environments. Susannah directs programs in French-speaking countries and manages Putney’s partnerships with schools. She has led Language Learning France.
Favorite Moment While Leading a Putney Program: “I led our Language Learning program in France last summer, and by the end of our 5-week journey together, each of my students said they were DREAMING in French! Everyone was shocked by their personal transformation. I couldn’t have been happier.”
Best Vermont Memory to Date: “In October, a farm near our Barn offices produces over 90 different types of heirloom apples, and there is an old apple guru in town who can identify every one. It is the most joyful, spectacular harvest. We hosted a pie-baking party and baked and ate pies all day.”
Defense Plan for the Winter: “Woolly long johns and hot toddies!”
Favorite Saying in a Foreign Language: “Ah la vache! – which is French and literally translates to “Oh, the cow!” It’s used in the same way some people say “Oh my God!”