Steady, Daily Work
What a year. I would have been proud to write this note to you simply marveling that we made it to the end of 2020 teaching in person with no program closures or serious health concerns at NBSS. That alone is an accomplishment, and I’m grateful for the diligence, care, and resilience that made it possible.
And yet there’s more: throughout the unfolding crises of 2020, the School kept the progress of our students in focus, adapted our work, remained flexible, extended our community, and developed new ventures—all with dedication, stamina, and grace.
We end 2020 with the crescendo of our virtual Open House, three lively days which showed, perhaps more clearly than ever, the fruitful intersection of the digital with the analog. Through a live stream, hundreds of people from around the world were able to see our students and faculty at work, in-person, sharing their deep knowledge and growing skills. We also end our year with an ambitious and creative strategic plan for digital offerings through our Continuing Education program. This will allow us to chart new ways of teaching skill-based courses to more people in more places, truly extending our reach and impact.
Throughout the unfolding crises of 2020, the School kept the progress of our students in focus, adapted our work, remained flexible, extended our community, and developed new ventures—all with dedication, stamina, and grace.
True to the goals we set a year ago, we continue to engage a fuller “ecosystem” of our fields. Our new public programming series, In The Making, brings new voices to NBSS, emphasizing the diversity of the work of craft and trade in the world. And, importantly, we end this year taking up the deep and long-term work of what it means to become a community that is more welcoming, inclusive, and diverse, providing greater access to the fields for which we train.
A Board member wrote to me this week, “Our last meeting presented a condensed picture of a wonderfully resilient response to an extraordinarily challenging year. The School got slammed with the multifold troubles of 2020 only to leap into action, wield its rich resources of talent and invention, and emerge with a new sense of vigor and direction. In many ways, even while the School’s mission is unchanged, it has adaptively reconfigured itself to thrive in a rapidly changing environment; and into something altogether different than where we were before disaster struck.”
This note offers great insight to the legacy of our institution. North Bennet Street School will turn 140 years old in 2021, and by virtue of its longevity has seen an untold number of challenges. Yet generations of stewards viewed these not as impossible threats, but as calls to action; ways to not only endure, but to grow and evolve. We believe the same today.
But transformation is not magic, it is steady, daily work. Like the trades we teach, it is labor both meaningful and urgent, harnessed by those with the skill and the ambition to achieve it. This ongoing work of adaptation, response, and renewal is present in our courageous students and ingenious faculty, and in our resourceful staff and unwavering community. It is a part of our nature as a School.
We’re at an inflection point in our long history, writing our next chapter. As we close out a tumultuous year, I am buoyed and inspired by you, the NBSS community. And I am so honored to be a part of our work at this time.