Meet Jamey Pope CF ’06

March 28, 2024
Meredith Fidrocki

Meet Jamey Pope CF ’06: New Department Head in Cabinet & Furniture Making

In September, Jamey Pope CF ’06 became North Bennet Street School’s new Department Head of the Cabinet & Furniture Making (CF) program. Jamey grew up in North Carolina, where he worked for the residential construction company his grandfather founded in the 1940s and his father later expanded. 

Jamey looking at a furniture making student's chair

“I eventually started my own residential construction company there, which I ran for seven years. It was lucrative, but not that rewarding,” Jamey says. “I was building ‘starter homes’ that were not very interesting in design. Occasionally, the homeowner would request custom elements such as mantles or cabinetry, but the scope of work was always limited.” 

One day 20 years ago, while still running his company in North Carolina, Jamey opened Fine Woodworking magazine and saw a half-page ad for an open house at NBSS. “I remember telling my grandfather, ‘I think I’m going to move up to Boston for a couple of years to go to this school.’ My grandfather pulled his glasses down and said, ‘I don’t think you’re coming back,’” Jamey laughs. 

Jamey graduated from the CF program in 2006. “It was one of the best experiences of my life,” he says. 

As his grandfather predicted, Jamey stayed in Massachusetts honing his craft, working on commissions and repairs out of shops in South Boston, Lincoln, and West Concord, where he ran a multi-tenant shop until recently. “Finding NBSS allowed me to explore a world of culture and design and exposed me to clients who appreciate custom work,” Jamey says. 

Jamey has been a valued faculty member and familiar presence at NBSS for years, including as a full-time instructor in the CF program since 2021 and a longtime instructor of Community Education classes, including the Three-Month Furniture Making Intensive. “One of the many things I enjoyed about teaching the Three-Month Intensive was building relationships,” Jamey says. “It’s very rewarding to watch a student start with little to no experience and grow into a confident, skilled woodworker.”

Jamey working with two furniture making students while drafting

Jamey also created the popular Build a Banjo class for Community Education, inspired by his son Rob’s passion for music. “Rob was taking banjo lessons, and I would often join in with a different instrument to encourage practice. At some point, I decided to build Rob a banjo, and my NBSS supervisor at the time suggested we offer this as a Community Education class. It was very successful! Building a musical instrument not only teaches a woodworking skill but also the pleasure of creating art in music.”

“Cabinet & Furniture Making is our largest program, with 40 students, five instructors, and a lot of moving parts. Thankfully, Jamey understands this program so well,” says Claire Fruitman CF ’96, Provost. “Jamey brings new ideas, he’s organized, and he is a very good listener and team leader. He thinks about each faculty member’s strengths and how to use those in the program to the best advantage of our students.”

“We see students from all over the world who bring different skills, talents, and abilities. My hope and my goal is that every student in the CF program feels welcomed and supported, and leaves with a fundamental understanding of furniture making.”

“I am honored to lead this team of faculty who bring incredible talent, wide-ranging skills, and experience to the CF department,” Jamey says. “The team’s energy is awesome. I’m excited to see, with my team, where we can go with this program.”

The CF faculty team includes full-time instructors Ellen Kaspern CF ’03 and Lance Patterson CF ’79, as well as part-time instructors Nick Maraldo CF ’07 and Matt Wajda CF ’00. Lance and Matt are longtime department members, while Ellen and Nick are new to their roles—as of September 2023–although both well-known faces at NBSS.

Ellen designs and builds custom furniture and has taught woodworking and furniture making for 20 years at various schools, including MassArt, the Yestermorrow Design Build School. Nick has experience in high-end cabinetry and architectural millwork. He has studied and taught at the Furniture Institute of Massachusetts and led many workshops across New England, including at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship. Both have taught in the CE program at NBSS.

Jamey adds, “Lance has been at NBSS for more than 40 years and Matt owns his own company, so he brings great insight back to the department. We also have our talented teaching assistants, Aedan Fitzgerald CF ’23 and Lily Tilton CF ’23.”

In working with our CF students, one of the things I enjoy most is the diversity,” Jamey shares. “We see students from all over the world who bring different skills, talents, and abilities. My hope and my goal is that every student in the CF program feels welcomed and supported, and leaves with a fundamental understanding of furniture making.”

Five Questions with Jamey

Who inspires you as an educator? Will Neptune CF ’81, who was an instructor here in the ’80s and ’90s. We did a commission together; I built a chair, and he did the carving. Just sitting down and having a conversation with him, it is like the tools are in his hands. He has a very clear way of teaching and breaking things down so students understand.

Highlight from this year so far? NBSS has started offering a business class to the entire School, and we decided to cater our class in-house, specifically for our CF department. I reached out to three current students and one graduate who come from backgrounds in executive management, insurance, finance, and software. They put together a two-week business class focused around furniture making, and it was awesome! That’s the kind of new idea I’m excited to offer our students.

Best piece of advice you give CF students? Find your own avenue. We focus on furniture making, but our program is also broad. There are so many skills we teach in this program that you can take with you. I’ve had a graduate start a business focused solely on setting up shop equipment, from dust collection to wiring. Or, I had a student who was a musician and went on to build drums. There are so many avenues you can go down.

Favorite NBSS haunt? Windgate Gallery. I love the big windows. Or, Salumeria Italiana sandwich shop right across from the School. We’ve established a great relationship with the owner. We do some projects for him, and in return… sandwiches!

What keeps you busy outside NBSS? My 16-year-old son. (laughs) My wife and I also have a property in Virginia, which we visit often to do carpentry work since it’s older. Beyond that, I enjoy building banjos and mandolins, and my wife and I play music together.