Message from the President

Dear NBSS Community,

It goes without saying, this is an unusual fall. So many of the markers that signal the shift of seasons are different: distanced get-togethers, school shopping in masks, absent audiences, and at NBSS, a host of necessary interventions that keep our community healthy, safe, and productive. And yet the seasonal shift continues; leaves cycle through brilliant shades, cooler nights fold into foggy mornings, days shorten and we drift toward creature comforts, be they foods or fireplaces or the everpresent outdoors.

There are reassuring markers at NBSS too. Though much is different on the surface—defined pathways through the building, distance in program spaces, some remote instruction—our students and faculty are engaged as ever, in the field and at our facility. Students are developing new skills, and also working their way toward their program completion, picking up from spring. Preservation carpenters have restored a small historic post office that suffered storm damage, violin makers are fitting instrument ribs to plaster molds, and locksmiths are surveying our site, learning from the locks and mechanisms of our building's exterior doors. Despite the precautions and the quiet, slow work of reopening, there is buoyancy and energy at NBSS. Our usual hum of fall activity is here, as always, yet appreciated more this year.

This is the framework for the year ahead, I believe; two simultaneous inclinations to be balanced. One tendency is to be protective and careful, reserved, and cautious with our work and resources. This is the mood of re-opening, as we are mindful of new protocols and the importance of health in our community.

Happily, we are also in an expansive, experimental, and outward-focused mindset, one that follows the generative opportunities that come with change. This is evident in new online initiatives, from our inspired Public Programs series, In the Making, to our Continuing Education courses, which ventured bravely into the virtual world this summer. Work such as this is creative, optimistic, and takes ingenuity. It's a mode that feels fast and free, a counterbalance to the reserved approach we take with new working ways.

Together, these seemingly contrary modes—careful, yet expansive—improve our work, foster growth, and help us create connections.

Together, these seemingly contrary modes—careful, yet expansive—improve our work, foster growth, and help us create connections. This leads naturally to our priorities for the year ahead: 1) to remain productive in person and model new protocols for our industries; 2) to develop online content that expands our profile, offerings, and reach in the world; and 3) through all of our work, evolve the School to become a more diverse and inclusive place, as we work against bias and commit to creating a stronger sense of belonging for more people, partners, and community members.

As called for by the times, we are changing and adapting, flexible in our approach, and innovative in our disciplines. This is our history; adapting to challenges is how NBSS has always operated as an institution. And while we shift, one focus remains a priority: to consider people first, our students, faculty and staff, our alumni and partners, and new people we'll collaborate with now and in the future.

Our mission to train using hand skills and evolving technology is as strong as ever. Thank you for helping to create our solid ground as we make our way forward.

Sarah Turner, President

Sarah Turner

Previous Messages from the President

Optimism and Conviction
Sarah Turner

Message From the President: In June, the president typically sends a letter to the NBSS community to reflect on the accomplishments of the past year and signal the way ahead. Usually, summer is a transition season, a slowing of pace and rhythm, a reset between semesters. Writing this seems quaint and dreamy now, as nothing about the last months have been typical or marked by gradual transitions. Instead, sudden changes and urgent needs have upended our routines, calling us to reimagine our work and ways.

A Vantage to the Future
Sarah Turner

Message From the President: The start of 2020 marks one full year for me at North Bennet Street School, which gives me a unique vantage point. I'm new enough to retain my perspective from the "outside," but now also have an awareness of the School as an insider. This vantage point gives me a long-range view for NBSS, an opportunity to look to the School's future. Looking ahead, I see us as perfectly poised to develop the whole ecosystem of craft and trade, to nourish the interrelated networks of our disciplines, with a vision for what we want our fields to be.

Sights on the Horizon
Sarah Turner

Message From the President: NBSS is known for preparing students for work and for working-lives. It is a school known for teaching practical application and usefulness, coupled with integrity and beauty. Like our new graduates, we will keep our sights on the horizon, remembering that our efforts will aggregate. This is how you build a life, a livelihood, a School: effort by effort, over time.

About Sarah

As an educator, leading from both the office and the studio, Sarah has worked at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, the Rhode Island School of Design, the State University of New York at New Paltz and the Oregon College of Art and Craft. As the Dean at Cranbrook, she directed the Academic Programs of the Academy, including a ‘public-lecture-as-variety-show’ series, and a Critical Studies + Humanities residential teaching fellowship, which she established in 2009. Sarah has also worked extensively in the areas of student success, from enrollment and admissions to developing opportunities for students and alumni. She has lectured widely, regularly serves as a guest critic to studio programs, and has organized exhibitions on contemporary craft and design in the US and abroad. In 2005, Sarah was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to the Netherlands to research Dutch contemporary applied art.

In addition to her work in education, Sarah has maintained a studio practice rooted in craft. Trained initially in metalsmithing and jewelry, her work has ranged from woodworking to weaving to printmaking – always with a focus on the meanings inherent to objects and materials. Her artwork has been included in exhibitions nationally and internationally, including the Museum of Art and Design in New York, the National Ornamental Metal Museum in Memphis, Galerie Noel Guymarc’h in Montreal, and The Society of Arts and Crafts in Boston.

Sarah has been a volunteer and advisor for a variety of organizations, including the Southeast Michigan Fulbright Association, the Vermont YWCA, the Art Jewelry Forum, and the Society of North American Goldsmiths.

Born and raised in Ohio, Sarah received a Bachelor's Degree in Sociology from Smith College and a Certificate in Metalsmithing from the Oregon College of Art & Craft. She earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from Cranbrook Academy of Art.


For interview requests, speaking engagements, or other inquiries, please contact Kevin Derrick at or 617-227-0155 x180.