Putney purged teachers for being Quakers — but eventually elected one

PUTNEY — Thanks for publishing Heidi Watts' poignant and compelling account of the purge of teachers at Putney Central School in 1966 for being “Quakers and communists.”

Anyone who knows Heidi - or Anne Fines, another teacher purged from Putney - knows what amazing educators they went on to become.

Heidi has, for decades, been helping set up education at Auroville, an intentional community in India. Anne's long career as an educator included creating the SCAMP summer program for pre-K students to get them ready for entering school, along with teaching kindergarten for generations in Brattleboro.

We've come a long way in Putney and Vermont since those days, when as Heidi writes, “the changes came too fast.”

From purging teachers who were Quakers, to electing a Quaker representing the town in the State House of Representatives, the changes continue.

Hats off to Heidi and others for blazing the trail, and to those locals who remained open to new people coming in.

And, now, our challenge is keeping those trails open, so Vermont be a welcoming place for all, regardless of race, color, creed, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, place of origin, or political beliefs.

Our official state motto is “Freedom and Unity.” Let's make it, in practice, “You're welcome in Vermont.”

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