Friday, May 17, 7 p.m.
Celebrate the publication of Tal Birdsey's Hearts of the Mountain: Adolescents, a Teacher, and a Living School with a reading, discussion and book signing at the Vermont Book Shop.
Birdsey, currently head teacher at North Branch School, sketches an utterly unique entity: an independent and virtual one-room middle school in the Green Mountains of Vermont. Hearts of the Mountain is about a year in the life of teaching and learning at the school; it 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
“. . . 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 of The Power of Their Ideas, Lessons to America from a Small School in Harlem
Tal Birdsey is the head teacher, co-founder, and director of North Branch. 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. This is his second book forthcoming from Green Writers Press (spring 2019),