Arts & Leisure

North Branch School educator to read from his book

NORTH BRANCH SCHOOL Headmaster Tal Birdsey, left, stands with the “Burning School” sculpture to which students attached mementos, including letters, old ticket stubs, favorite poems and lyrics, artwork and report cards. Students and alumni of the Ripton middle school then burned the sculpture as part of a yearly tradition to start the school year.

Local writer and educator Tal Birdsey will be reading from his new book, “Hearts of the Mountain: A Teacher, Adolescents, and a Living School.” The reading, at Tourterelle Restaurant in New Haven, is scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 21, 4:30-6 p.m., and is open to the public.

For 21 years, Birdsey has been the head-teacher at The North Branch School, an independent school for students grades 7-9 in Ripton. 

The new book dives deep into a year of learning and living at the small school, which is nestled in the woods and mountains near Robert Frost’s summer home.

“Hearts of the Mountain: A Teacher, Adolescents, and a Living School,” published by Vermont’s Green Writers Press, details a magical and thrilling year of learning in the school.

In novelistic detail, Birdsey sketches an utterly unique entity: an independent and virtual one-room middle school in the Green Mountains of Vermont. It’s 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.

Birdsey published his first book about the North Branch School, “A Room for Learning: The Making of a School in Vermont,” in 2009, from St. Martin’s Press. 

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

For more information or to RSVP, email

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