work, and prepare them for future em-
ployment in their chosen industries.”
Still, the emphasis has been and
continues to be on hand skills rather
than technology. Powered machine
tools supplement hand tools, but there
is no CNC production.
This approach traces its roots to the
Sloyd Education system developed in
Finland in 1865 and that is still taught
in Scandinavian schools today. Gustaf
Larsson’s Sloyd Teacher Training
School was housed on the fourth floor
of the North Bennet Street Industrial
School (which became the North Bennet Street School) in Boston. Today,
NBSS programs continue to incorporate the Sloyd philosophy of building
skills based on hand work.
As North Bennet Street School
moves into the 21st century, the emphasis is not so much on adding the
latest technology as it is in meeting
contemporary student needs for a practical and affordable trades education
leading to a successful career.
A Marine in woodworking
Abbie Smith, a veteran of the United
States Marine Corps, grew up restoring
and caring for old sailing schooners
alongside her father in Maine. But
after high school, she met friends at
Camp Lejeune in North Carolina who
inspired her to enlist. Smith went on to
serve in a mechanical engineering role
for five years, including two deploy-
ments overseas, and met her husband,
Timothy. The two eventually settled
back in Maine where Smith discovered
her passion for building while working
at a local furniture store.
Both Smith and her husband en-
rolled in North Bennet Street School
to pursue careers in the trades. Smith
enrolled in Cabinet & Furniture Mak-
ing; her husband went into Carpentry.
Their education at North Bennet
Street School was made possible by
the School’s Yellow Ribbon Program,
which helps to bridge the financial gap
beyond regular VA benefits to fund
tuition, tools, and materials.
A Marine Corps veteran, Abbie Smith, works on some marquetry in the Furniture program at
North Bennet Street School. Veterans make up about 20 percent of the school’s students.
Close collaboration between students
and teachers is part of the fundamental
hands-on Sloyd Education-based program
at North Bennet Street School in Boston, the
nation’s oldest trade school.
The new president of North Bennet Street
School is Sarah Turner who enthusiastically
embraces the school’s trade school mission.