A Future-Focused School Year

October 29, 2021
Sarah Turner
Carpentry students measuring wood



Now fully in the swing of a new semester, the re-start of so much “in-person” work has been invigorating, with the days feeling both novel and normal. We’re a fuller school this year, with more people in our programs and the shops abuzz with activity. As always, our students represent many chosen paths: some are early in their education joining us right from high school, others arrive post-college hoping to grow their skills, and still others are adding to successful careers as veterans, teachers, farmers, musicians, lawyers, and cooks. The range of experience is ever-inspiring.

This, our 140th year, serves as a ‘bridge’ as we move from the urgent response and adaptations of 2020-2021 and toward the future. A priority for our work this year is crafting a new strategic plan, one that maps our goals for the next five years, while also envisioning the shape of our School in ten years, when NBSS will celebrate its 150th anniversary. 2031 is right around the corner.

Happily, this is another year of concrete, hands-on work, not just visioning and planning. As we rebuild enrollment in our Full-Time programs, we’re also excited to welcome Continuing Education students back to our building in early 2022. Complementing our sturdy core of in-person courses are online classes, which are currently in pilot mode but will be open to the public this spring. These new offerings will allow us to teach skills we know well, and also venture into areas newer for us. Coupled with the second season of our In the Making series, these virtual efforts continue to grow our profile and reach, inviting more people from many life paths to be a part of what we do.

Another critical piece of our work is looking at the actionable ways in which NBSS can become a more diverse, inclusive community. Growth and new initiatives in these areas are happening through the leadership of the Diversity-Equity-Inclusion Committees, at all levels. This includes opportunities through our program offerings, funding partners, recruitment relationships, Board membership, and student, staff, and faculty support systems. This work is guided by learning, by self-reflection as an institution, and by our commitment to the School’s future.

I experience the productivity of NBSS to be absolutely dizzying. As soon as I learn of one exciting project, visitor or effort, the next one is on the horizon. I hope you’ll take the time to experience the dynamism of this place yourself, through our Portrait Project, our In the Making series, publications and our posts from our programs. The work of this small school is remarkable, re-energized, ambitious, and expansive.

Here’s to a future-focused school year, eyes up and ahead.