Tal Birdsey's 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.
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). He has a second book forthcoming from Green Writers Press (spring 2019), Hearts of the Mountain, about a year in the life of teaching and learning at the North Branch School.
Deborah Meier has been working in public education as a teacher, principal, writer, advocate since the early 1960s, and ranks among the most acclaimed leaders of the school reform movement in the U.S.She is the author of many books and articles, including The Power of Their Ideas, Lessons to America from a Small School in Harlem, and In Schools We Trust. She is an outspoken critic of state-mandated curriculum and high stakes standardized testing and has written extensively on their unreliability and class/race biases. She is on the board of FairTest, Save Our Schools, Center for Collaborative Education and the Association for Union Democracy. She is also on the editorial board of The Nation, The Harvard Education Letter, and Dissent magazines.