Sarah Turner, the new president of North Bennet Street School, was interviewed by Chris Lovett of Boston Neighborhood Network News on October 10, 2018. She talked about our trade and craft programs, growing job opportunities, and new facility in Boston's North End.
Watch the full interview here.
Sarah first outlined her background. "Before I came to [North Bennet Street School], I was working for another specialized school – a graduate school in art, design, and architecture in Michigan, called the Cranbrook Academy of Art, and I was the Dean of the graduate school. But behind that, lies my own education in craft. I was trained as a jeweler and metalsmith, have done a fair amount of woodworking, [and] some textile art. So I come out a background of having studio teaching – directly teaching people hand skills and how to use tools – all the way up to a career in academic administration."
Chris also asked if there is a job market for the disciplines we train for at NBSS, and Sarah replied, "There is! And this is one of the things I love about the School, is that it educates to employ.... They're very careful about making sure that their graduates can be employed when they leave. And they have a great track record with that. What we're learning from the Department of Education is that over the next five years, about 68% of the jobs in the trades will remain unfilled. Because the generation that was filling those jobs is retiring, and people aren't being educated in those areas to replace them. We see a real need for this – it's a need regionally, it's a need nationally. And we're delighted that people come to us to learn these specialized skills and specialized trades."
We think of our graduates in some ways as the unsung heroes of the cultural world, often doing the quiet work behind the scenes, to make the rich cultural life of this community possible for all of us.
"[Some of our partnerships include] places like the Boston Symphony Orchestra. A number of our students from our Piano Technology program are interning at Tanglewood, the BSO's summer program, which is giving them terrific new skills and leading to employment. Our graduates from the Bookbinding program are working behind the scenes in the Boston Public Library, at the Boston Athenæum, they're doing conservation work to repair documents, to preserve special collections of printed materials. They're doing this around the country at universities that have special collections and special libraries. So, we think of our graduates in some ways as the unsung heroes of the cultural world, often doing the quiet work behind the scenes, to make the rich cultural life of this community possible for all of us."
When asked about the benefits of making a living as a craftsperson, Sarah said, "Making your living working by your hands is just an incredibly gratifying way to live and work. Our students learn that one of the wonderful things about working with your hands is you get to see the whole arc of the process, with your authorship. You get to do the research to start the project, you get to set the goals – whether you're making a violin, or tuning a piano, or installing a lock – you know the endpoint, and you're the author of all of that work. You learn the skills, you learn the tools, you learn the materials. So that gives real pride, and a real sense of self-satisfaction to have seen something from concept, all the way through to finished."