Charting a Clearer Path for Graduates


By the time most students enroll in Seaport Academy, the young men have had anything but a traditional journey. Most have missed significant amounts of school, found that success has eluded them in previous academic settings, and lack credits critical for graduation. While their backgrounds vary, they have all struggled to fit into other schools. For them, Seaport is a lifeline to academic and social-emotional stability – as it provides the best opportunity to earn a high school diploma.


Solid Preparation

During counseling sessions, clinician and transition coordinator Rosaria Marraccino, LCSW, found that many of her students didn’t feel prepared for life outside of school. “A lot of the students we have here don’t typically go to two- or four-year colleges. Many of them just don’t feel like they have a path.”   


In 2018, the first-year Seaport clinician began to explore how the school could add to the current transition connections and processes that her colleagues had developed. Always looking for ways to enhance the lives of his students, Seaport Director Alex Tsonas encouraged Rosaria to move forward.   


Explains Rosaria, “I spent the last six months of the school year doing a lot of research.” While she continued to perform her regular work at Seaport, she began investigating what additional transition services Massachusetts offers, including what different cities and towns provide. She also did the sometimes complicated detective work of learning what nonprofit and community-based transition support is available for students. Most importantly, she began augmenting earlier systems to connect Seaport students to these enhanced opportunities – to extend the services they receive while at the school.  


Students at Seaport have access to a variety of vocational opportunities. “We have programs like work-study, where students can learn basic janitorial activities such as cleaning and vacuuming," states Rosaria. “We have a culinary program where students practice learning how to cook in a professional kitchen. We also have a woodshop so students can do more hands-on work.” On campus, Seaport students also have consistent access to a variety of mental health services and support as well as a nurturing social network of staff and fellow students. But, once they leave, Rosaria asks, “What's their connection to the community?”  


A Comprehensive Process

Tyler Langsdorf, June 2024 Seaport Grad

Tyler Langsdorf
2024 Seaport graduate

Rosaria is laser-focused on helping students extend the progress they have made at the school by creating a path toward work, learning and community post-Seaport. The transition process is a multi-step collaboration between students and staff – with the student always at the center. “All students have a once-a-week transition class and access to individualized support with vocational goals,” Rosaria shares. “I like to sit with students during their first week at Seaport.”

She learns what brought them to the school, their past educational experiences, and their plans for graduation and beyond. The process varies from student to student – very much in line with the individualized support the school offers the young men attending. “I think the biggest plus is that [Seaport’s transition process] is really individualized. If a student has a wish, we’re going to try to make it happen. It doesn’t matter what that interest is. We'll explore a place. We’ll find people in the field and talk to them.” It’s always tailored to the plan the student has outlined. 

The optimal transition process begins when a student comes to Seaport as a freshman and can benefit from individualized and group transition opportunities. During group classes and one-to-one sessions, students discuss current needs and hopes for the future.


Rosaria and two other Seaport staff supporting the transition program help each student develop a plan with a schedule to track their achievements. Some have specific goals such as getting their driver’s licenses to get to work. Others are looking for trade-related training programs. Still others want to go on to college. 

Sometimes, however, the process is accelerated. Rosaria explains, “This year we got a student in his senior year. He came in at the end of his first term, and so the rush was on. The thought of graduating became emotionally overwhelming. But, with the support of his counselor and transition staff, he was able to take the small steps needed to build momentum to get him across the finish line. With his permit and diploma in hand, this graduate intends to explore opportunities at Bunker Hill Community College.


Connecting Students to Opportunities

“A lot of Seaport students come here already having had disruptions in their social and  educational connections. There's not a lot of constants in their lives,” Rosaria reveals. “Being that constant supporting person while also maintaining boundaries, has been really important.” This provides the trust needed to help a student commit to a plan – at any stage of the process.  

The plan can include connecting a student to a range of transition resources such as:



For example, Rosaria connected one of her students to the Mass Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission, which offers support to young people who are 18+. This is critical, as many supports students receive in high school do not automatically continue when they leave school. The student was able to sign on to services and receive mental health support, take classes at North Shore Community College and find his own apartment. “He should be graduating this year with a political science associate degree paid for by MRC,” Rosaria says proudly.   


Extending Support

Rosaria Marraccino
Rosaria Marraccino

However, helping students apply to adult services alone has not been sufficient for some of them. This is why Seaport Academy hopes to offer transition services beyond a student’s time at the school. A current five-year look-back project will help the school discover how alumni are faring and what it can do to further support an effective transition. “We want to provide sustained engagement and services,” states Rosaria. “For so many different reasons, fear of the system or just having so many mental health challenges, it’s difficult for some of our former students to maintain success. 

“When it comes to transition services for the young men or nonbinary folks that we serve at Seaport,” explains Rosaria, “we have to remember that they struggle with asking for help.” 

Research shows that female students are more likely to ask for support in school. The young men that Seaport serves have learned, often from negative past experiences, that they are better off relying on themselves. 

Rosaria explains that they have had “negative interactions with the system” and getting them to trust in another system like Seaport takes time and consistency, never mind getting them to access services through yet another one. “There’s this pressure to carry the world on their shoulders,” she adds.  

That’s why Seaport’s transition program continually works to build and maintain trust and remain by a student’s side throughout the process – being acutely aware of the gaps students have to bridge to make an effective transition. According to Rosaria, helping a student make connections to supportive services and jobs is just the beginning. 

The Seaport program helps them see the value in seeking support and taking the steps necessary to take control of their future. That includes making and keeping appointments (including making sure they pick up the phone for follow-up calls), managing their time, strengthening their understanding of business culture and more.


Most importantly, Seaport helps students continuously define their goals, helping the young men meld their present situation to a successful future.