Bench Notes blog

  • Mayor Walsh to Speak at 2016 Commencement

    North Bennet Street School is delighted to announce Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh will deliver the commencement address to our newest graduates at Old North Church on June 3, 2016.

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    Posted: May 13, 2016
  • Notes on the Journey


    Just as it felt good to leave, it feels good to come home after a long time away.

    For the three months of my recent sabbatical, I lived out of a carry-on bag and small backpack, traveling more than 16,000 miles. A month was spent in South America, first on a two-week Learning Journey in Bolivia with my cohort of eight 2015 Barr Fellows. Our stops in Bolivia included Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flats at 4,000 square miles, Potosi, the world’s highest city at nearly 14,000 ft, and Rurrenabaque, a tiny but growing center for eco-tourism in the Amazon basin. We met with leaders of non-profit organizations involved in education and environmental policy, the former ambassador to the US (we have no diplomatic relations at the moment), university professors, school children and local officials, and, in the process, the eight of us became a tight-knit group of close friends.

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    Posted: September 7, 2015
  • Paths to a meaningful career

    The recent North Bennet Street School graduates whose stories are below have different backgrounds and reasons for enrolling, what they share is a love of working with their hands and a dream of a meaningful career doing just that.

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    Posted: June 23, 2015
  • Locksmithing in the digital age

    Most security devices have some mechanical means of securing an opening – often a bolt lock of some kind, sometimes a magnetic lock. What separates an electronically powered lock from a key lock is the type of trigger that initiates the locking device – the basic structure of the lock ‘guts’ are the same.

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    Posted: June 8, 2015
  • Laser welding in the jewelry industry

    Laser technology has revolutionized the jewelry industry. Unlike traditional soldering, jewelers can use laser welding jewelers to efficiently and effectively repair jewelry without removing heat-sensitive stones and without the use of flux or lead solder. Laser welding is very clean, there is no discoloration and less time is needed to refinish the piece.

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    Posted: June 3, 2015
  • What we are learning today

    Every day is different at North Bennet Street School. In each program, students are practicing new skills and focused on projects. Even on the first day of April, there was very little fooling around... just happy, focused, learning.

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    Posted: April 2, 2015
  • Bench jeweler shortage creates career opportunities

    A generation ago, every town of any size had a jewelry store with window displays filled with rings, necklaces and more made with precious metals and gems. People would visit their neighborhood store to buy engagement rings and gifts of all kinds. In addition to purchasing jewelry, customers would bring jewelry to be appraised, cleaned, repaired and customized...

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    Posted: March 24, 2015
  • Hug the Irish, they built Boston

    As we celebrate all things Irish this week, it's nice to remember that Boston was forever changed by the huge wave of Irish immigrants who made Boston their home in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

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    Posted: March 18, 2015
  • Continuing education as a path to success

    Heather Dawson, a recent graduate of the joint North Bennet Street School and MassArt furniture design certificate program created a path to furniture making through the continuing education programs of both schools. She is thrilled with the option that allowed her to do what she loves and, when asked to share her story, she responded enthusiastically.

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    Posted: February 24, 2015
  • Snow days help us appreciate school

    The first snow day is a celebration. A change from routine, we shovel and play. We hang out with our kids and friends, drink hot beverages and read the books and magazines piled up around the house. By the second, third, fourth…sixth ! snow day, we are restless. We are tired of shoveling and we yearn for engagement. We miss our peers at school and work.

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    Posted: February 18, 2015
  • A career Valentine

    At this time of year, leading up to the middle of February, we are bombarded with ideas of romantic love and passion. Everywhere – the grocery store, listening to the radio, watching television, checking in with friends and family on facebook, there are constant reminders of Valentines day. But what about love and passion for our work ?

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    Posted: February 9, 2015
  • Security jobs in the 21st century

    As locksmithing and security needs have evolved and the technology has become more complex, the jobs available to trained professionals have also expanded. The public mostly know locksmiths as the professionals who come to open your house or car when you are locked out. While these first-responders are important, they are only a small percentage of individuals who work in locksmithing and security professions. Other jobs include access security, surveillance, master keying and safe technician. Locksmiths are self-employed, work for large security companies and for private and public corporations and institutions. Most universities, hospitals, government buildings and other large facilities employ locksmiths.

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    Posted: January 15, 2015
  • Path to becoming a piano technician

    David Betts is a man of few words but it is not hard to find him. More than likely he is in the North Bennet Street School piano technology department and it has been that way since 1974.

    Ask David what he likes most about his job and he’ll talk about problem solving and finding new and better ways to repair and rebuild pianos. He has built a number of tools and jigs to aid in the rebuilding work including a monster hydraulic clamping system to attach bridges to sound boards.

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    Posted: January 7, 2015
  • Three tips for hiring the best talent in 2015

    Does your institution need a locksmith? Does your company need a new conference table? Are your library books falling apart? Is your jewelry repair technician reaching retirement age?

    Is it time to hire a new employee or is the best solution an intern, sub-contractor or artisan on commission. There are myriad resources for finding administrative help but if the skills and personnel you need are non-traditional, the search gets complicated. If you are a small business, the options can dwindle further.

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    Posted: December 30, 2014
  • Supporting the next generation

    Just as a custom-made piece of furniture, a hand-made violin or a bespoke piece of jewelry gets handed down from generation to generation, the skills needed to work in the trades or become an artisan also get passed from generation to generation. The value of a mentor when learning hand skills is invaluable. The wisdom and experience gained from years of work and practice is absorbed by students who watch, listen and learn.

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    Posted: December 16, 2014
  • The contemporary goldsmith's workshop

    In the 21st century, making jewelry is everything from simple craft projects using beads and wire to master goldsmiths forming jewelry out of precious metals and gems. Some jewelry making crafts are easy to learn and achievable for hobbyists. Becoming an accomplished goldsmith takes years training and practice.

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    Posted: December 1, 2014
  • Being thankful

    Students, faculty and staff at North Bennet Street School are thankful for family, friends, the NBSS community and the time they have to study and practice what they love.

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    Posted: November 25, 2014
  • The value of skill-based training for locksmiths

    Mary Jane was a teacher of the visually impaired, DJ was a loss prevention officer for a department store, Jonathan was a military police officer who served in Iraq and Steve was an officer in the fire department. They came from different backgrounds, what they now have in common is that they are now locksmiths, employed doing what they love.

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    Posted: November 19, 2014
  • Veterans jumpstart new careers

    North Bennet Street School has a long history training veterans for new careers.

    At the recent preview film screening of the new Craft in America episode ‘Service’ in Windgate Gallery at North Bennet Street School, those in the audience learned how meaningful hand skills and craftsmanship have been for the veterans featured. In the audience were several veterans who are currently training for new careers at North Bennet Street School.

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    Posted: November 10, 2014
  • Preservation carpentry at Hatch Mill

    Built in 1753, Hatch Mill in Marshfield, Massachusetts is the last remaining water-powered up-and-down sawmill on the North River and one of the last in the United States.

    The mill was used through the 1960s but the last four decades have taken a toll on the historic structure.

    In 2004 the Hatch Mill Restoration and Preservation Group was formed. NBSS preservation carpentry students have played a vital role in the reconstruction of the timber frame mill.

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    Posted: November 5, 2014
  • Skills Learned and Mastered

    Workshops and master classes offered through the continuing education program are designed for amateurs and professionals.

    The workshops and master classes offered through the continuing education program at North Bennet Street School are designed for amateurs and professionals who seek to strengthen their technical understanding and develop new skills.

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    Posted: August 7, 2014
  • Three Common Misconceptions About Locksmiths

    Many locksmiths become specialists at some point in their careers. Just because a locksmith can get you into your car, doesn’t mean they will be able to repair your commercial door-locking device. Some locksmiths may specialize in electronic alarm systems while others make their career as safe technicians. Many locksmiths have their own business or work for a service company that has a variety of customers....

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    Posted: July 22, 2014

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