Charlie Sandler retires, Julio Fuentes steps in
Charlie Sandler, who for 46 years has set the tone at the Eliot School, is retiring. His corny jokes, thrifty ways, affectionate banter, salt-of-the-earth personality, old-fashioned generosity and newfangled inclusiveness have defined the atmosphere at the school since 1966. Charlie is turning 80 in September. We plan to name our wood shop for him at a birthday and retirement party in the fall.
Charlie joined the school as a woodworking teacher in 1966, after stints as a Korean War soldier, shipyard worker and cabinet-maker. He continued his day job as a vocational teacher in the Boston Public Schools, earning a Masters degree in the field, but he fell in love with the Eliot. He showed up in early mornings to straighten up the wood shop, then returned to teach after school and evenings. For years he ran the school nearly single-handedly, fixing machines, hiring teachers, meeting with the board, and weathering ups and downs in the neighborhood. His wife and young children helped mail out course catalogs, and he brought in friends from vocational education programs and the Cabinetmakers Union who populated the school as skilled teachers of craftsmanship. Children he taught return now with grey hair and memories of building wooden boats, clocks and stools.
He loves to say, “The Eliot School has been my life.”
We are fortunate to welcome Julio Fuentes, 43, of Roslindale, to the new job of Facilities Coordinator. As Charlie did, Julio will maintain the school’s 19th century building. He already teaches both adults and children here, and plays a key role in woodworking classes through our School Partnership Program at Boston Public Schools in Jamaica Plain, Roxbury, Dorchester, South Boston and the South End. Julio starts his new role here May 1.
Before he arrived at the Eliot School, Julio graduated from North Bennet Street School’s Preservation Carpentry program, then renovated high-end homes for fifteen years for The Classic Group, based in Lexington. He has led the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts of Holy Name Parish in West Roxbury for nine of those years. For almost as long, he has also led workshops for new homeowners for the city’s Dept. of Neighborhood Development.
Julio says, “I feel very privileged to be here in this wonderful environment. I’m especially thrilled to be bringing woodworking to a whole brand new generation of kids who have never, ever experienced it before.”