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Industrial Arts (CTE)

Mr. Bender

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Mr. Bender

James Bender

As a teacher and a professional, I have been involved in the maritime trades for more than 25 years. Much of this time has been spent on the water as a sailor crewman and captain of sailing vessels big and small, while maintenance and building of wooden vessels has been my specialty. 

Some of the most notable on water appointments were as Captain of the Clearwater the 106’ Sloop that does education programs on the Hudson river in New york and as Captain of Makulu during her third circumnavigation, I was captain from Cairns, Australia to New York. 

I was a student of Anthropology and focused on the Traditional Aspects of House and Boat Building Rituals in South Sulawesi Indonesia, There, I worked with The traditional boat builders of the Bugis, who were once given the title of the boogie men since the dutch were scared oth these fierce seafarers. I worked and lived in the remote villages of Indonesia where I learned the language and the craft of ship building, in the Bugis style.
Boat Building

Me with My host Family in Majene, Indonesia. 

Back Home I continued to learn about boat building. I worked in the Bronx in New York with Students building and sailing small boats with Rocking the Boat. There is nothing quite like sailing a handbuilt boat.  

After New York, I moved to Croatia, where i founded the Adriatic Maritime Institute, an organization that uses traditional boats as a platform for youth development. For the past 11 years we have been working in the islands and river preserving traditional boat building a nd seafaring skill with students from around the country. 

Here is a short video of our latest project the Peace River Odyssey 
The Kids
The Boat Building Crew in Croatia

Returning to the west coast I continued to build boats and had the chance to work with Team oracle to help with the building of the AC72 America's Cup Defender. That was an amazing experience and very different from the traditional boats I worked with in the past. 

In 2012 I decided that I would focus on teaching and got my certification, I have taught Environmental Science and Biology for the past seven years. Through that time I have developed an interest in architecture design and building. My interest in building trades stems from the idea of creating integrated design that blurs the line between the built environment and nature. My goal is to provide courses that have strong foundations, with an emphasis on safety, and attention to detail, while encouraging creativity in design and critical thinking. 

I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to be in the shop and teach Construction Trades. I have had a long and varied career, but I believe my trades experience has given me a strong foundation. I am excited to build and make things and to pass on my skills to students, help others, and be a contributing member of the communities where I live. I am proud to be a part of the RWHS Crew!