High School Special Programs





Dearborn Academy’s technology curriculum is aligned with the Massachusetts Technology Literacy Standards and Expectations. Our curriculum includes the following components.


Internet Safety

Ninth and tenth students complete a comprehensive unit on Internet safety and ethics. Our goal is to help students keep their Internet experiences safe and responsible and to avoid dangerous and inappropriate online behavior. Through videos, projects and class discussion, students learn how to be responsible when using online and digital technologies. Topics include safety, scams, the use and abuse of social media, legal issues, plagiarism, and cell phone safety.


Work and Business Applications

All students learn to use software applications commonly found in work and educational settings. Individualized projects allow students to delve into topics of interest. While doing their own research, students learn how to properly format a letter to a politician, create a graph from a spreadsheet of data collected from polling peers or develop an engaging slide presentation about the musical roots of an up-and-coming musician.



Dearborn students explore programming through a unique tool called Scratch. Developed at MIT, Scratch is a hands-on approach to programming. Through a building block interface, students construct programs that can control stock and custom images as well as an entire library of sounds. Initial projects involve very simple scripts that make images bounce, for example, but over time students can acquire the skills needed to make their very own video games and animated cartoons.


Art, Media and Design

To help our students develop skills in new media and familiarity with important tools, Dearborn offers many opportunities to explore creative digital media production through projects in film-making, music creation, website design and photography.


Computer Labs and Studios

Dearborn Academy has two computer labs and three mobile labs for in-class computing. One lab is used for digital media projects and includes software to support graphic design, film making, music production and photography.


Assistive Technologies

At Dearborn we know that different learning styles demand different approaches. We use assistive technologies throughout our program in a variety of ways to enhance learning and build confidence. Some of the assistive technology programs we use include Kurzweil 3000, a powerful text to speech learning tool, voice activated software and smartpens.


Given the tremendous diversity of the learning challenges our students face, no one approach will work for everyone. Some students make rapid gains when we use assistive technologies to help them solve particular problems. For others, assistive technologies can help them overcome a lifetime of frustration over difficulties in communicating.

Metalworking and Woodworking Classes and Jewelry and Digital Media Studios


Dearborn’s metalworking and woodworking classes as well as studios help students gain technical and marketable skills, while providing them with opportunities for self-expression and experiences that can dramatically improve their self-esteem. For some students whose school lives have been particularly frustrating, shops and studio play a critical role in helping students re-connect with the idea of school and learning.


All ninth and tenth grade students complete sessions in four different studios: woodworking, metalworking, jewelry and digital media. Studios are held four times a week and last 45 minutes. In each rotation, students start with projects that help them master basic skills and safety and advance to projects requiring master-level capabilities. Eleventh and 12th grade students focus on a specific discipline. Interested students in all grades can also choose a studio course as an elective.


Every semester, we see students develop passion and pride in their work and respect and appreciation for the work of others. Our arts and crafts sales at the end of each semester are capstone experiences where student artists are able to exhibit and sell their work to the public. Students can gain enough expertise to transition successfully to post-secondary training and employment in their area of interest.


Woodworking Classes

Students in high school woodworking classes learn the basics of woodworking. After a comprehensive orientation on safety, students have at their disposal all the tools of the craftsman’s trade. One machine at a time, students acquire the skills necessary to become independent woodworkers.


In addition to learning the safe use of power tools, students are exposed to modern work techniques that emphasize forward thinking and efficiency and the principles of the design/build process. Each student helps to form their assignments by choosing from a list of experience-appropriate project ideas. With the aid of source books for inspiration, students learn to communicate ideas effectively through sketches, shop drawings and verbal descriptions. After completing a set of dimensioned drawings and a parts list, students put their preparations to the test by building what they have designed.


Metalworking Classes

High school students who choose this elective class learn the full range of metalworking skills while emphasizing personal and environmental safety. Students learn to operate within standard procedures and gain experience using both hand and power tools. They develop their measuring and inspection skills, learn how to drill, grind and cut metal, and also learn how to join steel and copper as they create projects that are functional and decorative. Hands-on skills grow as students fabricate objects and complete surface treatments. Students gain skills using welding equipment, our sand blaster and our paint booth.


Jewelry Studio

Jewelry studio focuses on the arts of adornment and fine metalwork. Students learn and eventually master new skills by practicing them on projects of their own design. Students with prior experience in silversmithing and jewelry design are encouraged to build upon that foundation by learning more advanced techniques and honing their existing skills.


Digital Media Studio

Students in our digital media studio get expert instruction and hands-on experience using software and computers to create short films, produce photography projects, write and record music, build websites, learn graphic design and create games and animation. 

9th/10th Enrichment


What do you need or want to learn? What interests you? What are your goals for the future?


On Mondays and Tuesdays during the last period, ninth and tenth grade students participate in an enrichment program that allows them to choose activities that will be fun. These enrichment courses also give students the chance to explore a personal interest more deeply.


Enrichment classes are taught by shop staff, counselors, learning center staff, milieu staff as well our teaching staff. Our goal is to encourage students to reflect on their interests and develop the confidence to pursue them. By offering many choices (which change every quarter) we give students the chance to take risks by being willing to jump into something completely new.


Enrichment classes can be athletic, creative, technical or academic. Students can use them to improve skills, work on social issue, get some exercise, or learn something new. Enrichment classes play an important role in shaping a positive Dearborn experience. 


Not all choices below are offered every quarter, and we consider student interests when we create or plan elective offerings, but these are examples of the enrichment courses we offer:



  • Basketball
  • Softball
  • Running
  • Ultimate Frisbee
  • Ice Skating
  • Kayaking
  • Yoga
  • Meditation and guided imagery

Arts and Crafts

  • Knitting
  • Jewelry Studio
  • Woodworking
  • Metalworking
  • Arts Studio
  • Music


  • Chess
  • Bridge Building
  • Power Mechanics
  • Current Events
  • Book Club

Career and Life Skills


Preparing for the Future

It may be hard to imagine now while you are still in school, but all Dearborn students should expect to graduate and one day have a job. Our graduates achieve success in a variety of ways and venues, using the skills and resources they have gained through our program. Some Dearborn Academy alumni go on to two- or four-year colleges, others pursue training and certificates in specific skills and fields, and others join the workforce directly. 


To prepare for the future, we provide students with a comprehensive career curriculum that has received commendations by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. 


Career Education Curriculum


Junior Career Education

This year-long course is designed to help each student identify his or her own strengths and weaknesses, to introduce information about a variety of fields and to encourage close examination of a particular career. The course begins with students completing a number of skill, value and interest inventories and culminates in the writing of a research paper analyzing the student’s intended career.


Senior Transition

Students work in a small group to reflect on and discuss the essential questions that will guide their choices for the future. These questions include: What do I like? What am I like? What are my values? How will I choose a career? How will I react when I face challenges at work? This course provides each student both time for introspection and the support of the group as he or she contemplates the future.


“Having a Life”

This workshop teaches students how to navigate the many decisions that come with independence. Units address buying a car, finding a home, banking, taxes, credit cards, and nutrition. Lessons are practical and concrete with students working through the steps needed to plan a menu, draft a grocery list or apply for a credit card.


Independent Study

In the second half of the year, seniors undertake an independent, career-related study project. Those who hold outside jobs are able to earn credit through their employment, and if they are in good academic standing these students are eligible to leave school early four afternoons a week.


Students who are not employed select a skill or task that is directly related to their career goals to focus on during this time. In the past, teachers have supervised students as they prepared for SATs, studied for the ASVAB, worked on graphic design, prepared art portfolios, improved their computer skills, composed resumes and searched for employment.


Career Skills Workshops

In addition to the electives we offer to all our high school students, students in Grades 11 and 12 choose from our career and life-skills workshops. These skills workshops meet four times a week for about 45 minutes and are designed to introduce students to the work world and job responsibilities and help them develop real skills that can make them valuable and successful employees. They work in very small groups, study actual businesses and learn how to do tasks that would be common in these areas. The workshops can give students a leg up when looking for a summer job or a job after Dearborn. Workshop offerings change, depending on student interests, but the following are popular offerings:

  • Retail Management
  • Woodworking and Building Maintenance
  • Metalworking and Welding
  • Medical Terminology
  • Culinary Arts
  • Computer Lab
  • Graphic Arts


Job Shadows

Dearborn Academy also arranges job shadow experiences that allow students to explore a potential career by visiting a professional for two hours at his or her work site. The student observes the tasks, activities and responsibilities of the job, and comes prepared with questions to ask. Dearborn students have experienced job shadows with the Ottoson Middle SchoolSummer Street Getty and Tufts University Dining Services. If you would be willing to allow a Dearborn student to shadow you, please call or email our guidance and transition services office at 781.641.5992.



Dearborn Academy welcomes guest speakers on topics related to career and life skill development. In the past, students have listened with interest to information sessions led by representatives from City Year, Universal Technical Institute, Job Corps and Bunker Hill Community College. Guests have spoken about the benefits and drawbacks of an array of careers, from construction to professional wrestling. 


Students have also heard from Dearborn Academy alumni about accessing learning supports in college, becoming self-sufficient and making the most of their education. If you are interested in speaking to students at Dearborn Academy about your career, please call or email our Guidance and Transition team at 781.641.5992.


College and Career Visits

Dearborn Academy staff members take student groups each year to tour a variety of local colleges, training programs, and workplaces. If you would be willing to host a student at your workplace, please call or email our Guidance and Transition team at 781.641.5992.

Guidance and Transition


For more, visit our Guidance and Transition section.