Guidance and Transition

At Dearborn Academy, we believe students with emotional and learning challenges deserve the opportunity to set and achieve high goals for themselves. As the world raises the bar for our young people, we are likewise committed to supporting them in learning new skills and persevering through new and unfamiliar challenges. All students deserve the opportunity to be college-bound and/or pursue their desired career path. Our programming seeks to give students these opportunities.  


The curriculum for transition planning and learning is infused into all aspects of a student’s school day. Teachers, learning specialists, clinicians and guidance counselors work together to ensure that transitional learning remains at the forefront. Through thoughtful relationships, staff at Dearborn Academy learn and understand our students holistically. Staff members develop a learning pathway that builds off of each student’s identified strengths and goals. We seek to give students agency and ownership of the college and transitional planning process by learning about their specific learning and social-emotional needs and empowering them to be advocates for their future. 


9th & 10th Grade

In 9th and 10th grade, students take an academic strategies course that teaches them how to understand and utilize their IEP and to develop relevant skills and strategies to achieve their academic goals and transitional goals. During this time, we begin the process of going to college campuses for tours, explore different career choices, and engage in active exploration of possible next steps after high school. 

11th & 12 Grade

In 11th and 12th grade, students regularly meet 1:1 with our guidance counselor. During these times, students prepare for all aspects of the college and/or career process. Each student’s team (teachers, learning specialists, clinical and guidance) works together to ensure applications, college essays and other important transitional tasks are worked on and completed during the school day.  

Transition to a Career

At Dearborn Academy, we know that emotional and learning challenges need not be a barrier to accessing higher-level learning and post-graduate education. We help all students attain the skills necessary to transition into college and realize that what they may have thought was not a possibility is, in fact, within reach.


We also value the importance of exploring what the right option is for each student and know that not everyone finds a college path right for them – or at least not immediately following high school graduation. Depending on their interests and talents, students are helped to access training programs in the trades. Many build on experiences they have had in our extensive shop programs. Still others branch out in new areas and look for different apprenticeship opportunities.

We help students determine individual strengths and areas of interest, write resumes, generate cover letters and complete applications. Career planning also includes career education field trips, hearing from speakers from varied career fields, internships, classes and other school-to-work activities.

Caregiver Support

As we prepare our students for college or career life after high school, we also support their caregivers. We recognize how challenging their student’s educational journey has been and how difficult the transitional conversation can be. We work collaboratively to ensure that we are all aligned with the student’s vision and plans. We host transition planning events, bring in guest speakers, offer support groups, and increase clinical support for the caregivers of our high school students. For more information about how we support our caregivers, please visit our caregiver support page.