Learning at Seaport Academy weaves coursework together with sports, community service, whole days on the water and an equally intensive focus on social skills.
Seaport is a 766-school, providing an academic and therapeutic program designed specifically for young men in Grades 8-12. Our curriculum is based on the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks. Every Seaport Academy student receives an education that meets or exceeds Framework goals, and we provide them with an academically challenging education. We employ an experiential approach to learning whenever possible, which is coupled with our focus on building strong staff-student relationships. Our student-centered approach is a crucial part of helping students overcome learning issues and offers them opportunities to not only learn but to truly enjoy the process of learning new things.
With a staff/pupil ratio of 1:2, our staff has the flexibility to tailor learning to the needs of each student, allowing the young men to flourish within the rigor of an individualized program. While classes are rarely larger than six students, for much of a student’s day they is working 1:1 with faculty and counselors.
We are able to take advantage of our location on the Boston waterfront with fishing, sailing and kayaking opportunities, a plus for experiential learners, especially those who had “given up” on more traditional educational settings. Our curriculum seamlessly blends hands-on experiences with more traditional academic courses. Underlying all aspects of our curriculum at Seaport are our four core principles of learning:
Student-centered academics with intensive learning supports
Evidence-based clinical services
A transition component grounded
What’s New at Seaport?
- We offer an evidence-based self-regulation program Activities and Movement to the start of each day. For the first half-hour of school, students engage in physical activity (e.g., playing tennis, walking, martial arts, etc.) that stimulates centers of the brain that open them more fully to learning.
- Our restorative practice initiative focuses on building community by providing a forum for students in conflict with each other to share their perspectives on the situation in a calming, more rational environment. The person(s) who feels that they have been wronged is able to meet withe person at fault, and the perpetrator can, in turn, share their views and take ownership of their behavior.
- Seaport has begun to resume offsite activities (including community service projects) to help students strengthen their social-emotional skills in real-life settings that they develop with our clinicians.
- We have also embarked on a multi-year process to weave diversity and inclusion into every facet of Seaport Academy.
By aligning our curriculum in this way with the goals of the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks and setting clear and ambitious expectations, we give students the best opportunity to graduate, gain confidence and skills, and advance successfully to college and/or careers.
Our core curriculum is rooted in our environment and community. Assignments often incorporate a few key themes: maritime experiences, urban studies and the history of Boston.
Core Curriculum, English
The English curriculum draws upon literature from many genres, periods and cultures. Readings include poetry, plays, novels, and journalism, and assignments help students develop strong critical reading and writing skills.
Core Curriculum, Math
The math curriculum aims to help all Seaport students become good problem-solvers rather than “rote number-crunchers.” Our emphasis is on real-world applications and reasoning skills. Navigation at sea, for example, puts math skills to the test. We believe that mathematics is part of a lifelong learning process, and we strive to integrate mathematics to other aspects of the curriculum.
Core Curriculum, Science
Science starts with a question, progresses to hands-on scientific research and observation and leads to analysis. Our courses include Earth & Space Science, Physical Science and Life Sciences. Seaport sciences also include marine sciences, natural history and a unique aquaculture program. We take regular advantage of the many museums, labs, ecosystems and special science programs in our area.
Core Curriculum, History
At Seaport Academy, students formulate questions about topics in history and become familiar with the resources needed to find the answers. Boston, founded in 1630, provides an extraordinary lens for looking back in time and understanding our past and American history.
Core Curriculum, Electives
Elective classes are critical to Seaport’s approach because they represent student interests and choices. These classes take advantage of some of the unique resources available within the the Boston area and are frequently project-based.
Building a bike, for example, is an opportunity to combine math skills, physics knowledge and design. Fishing for stripers can engage students in history, environmental issues and biology. Cooking, writing a screenplay, filming a documentary, planning a fitness program, or creating a piece of art—are opportunities for consolidating gains in skills and knowledge, connecting with others, and building confidence.
Past electives have included:
- Boating, Fishing, Sailing
- Arts and Crafts
- Screenplay Writing
- Creative Writing
- Culinary Arts
- Film and Video Production
- Strategy and Logic
- Graphic Design
- Bike Building and Repair
- Topics in History
Learning Institutes and Academic Fairs
Seaport’s Learning Institutes and Academic Fairs, intensive project-based opportunities, provide a “deep dive” into creative problem-solving.
The institutes take place largely outside of the classroom and offer physically immersive, hands-on, project-based learning. The academic fairs are more researched-based and usually take place onsite. Both are weeklong and are offered four times a year.
Out-of-the-Box Thinking and Problem Solving
During the institutes, students take a daylong class that offers “out-of-the-box” thinking and problem solving. For example, one institute taught students entrepreneurial skills by building Adirondack chairs. They had to figure out how to create a product on a specific timeline and with a limited budget.
The students created the model for the chairs, created the budget, built the chairs and then sold a half dozen chairs. The institutes help learning come alive for students. Instead of reading a book or watching a video, the students learn hands-on how to solve problems through these projects.
The more research-based academic fairs give students a chance to exercise problem-solving skills in similar ways. The intensive, week-long fairs take an overarching theme and create classes on a subtopic. For example, a winter 2022 fair was on technology. Classes were offered on the history of computers, artificial intelligence, food technology and more. Students created a product to illustrate their learning. For fairs, students might create a video, a poster board, an essay, etc.
Jumpstart Academic Progress
Learning Institutes and Academic Fairs serve to teach students about problem solving in another way, one equally critical to their educational journey. Many of the students at Seaport Academy struggle with gaps in their education. This lack of success in earlier educational settings has left them with fewer credits, and they feel that they might never catch up and graduate.
The intensive week-long institutes and fairs allow students to make up credits and jumpstart their academic progress. They can make up course credits through an institute or fair while still earning credits through their other term-long courses. Working with staff, the students are able to target the classes they need to erase the gaps. The broad range of subjects for both gives students a powerful chance to problem solve and gain real agency over their educational journey.
For Seaport students, developing these skills is key to determining how to move forward to graduation and life after high school.