The Dearborn Difference: All-Inclusive Pathways

We’ve heard it said so many times: high schools should prepare all students for college and career.  Although the field of education has been focused on “college and career” for nearly a decade, the truth is that too many schools prepare only some students for either college or career. 

Some Boston high schools offer career pathways or early college courses to a select number of students.  Students who know that they are interested in preparing for a career might choose one of the Commonwealth’s vocational technical high schools.  However, these schools often have admissions policies that make them highly selective, and they disproportionally serve white students. 

The Vision.  At the Dearborn STEM Academy, we offer interdisciplinary Career Pathways to prepare all students for college and careers. Our goal is to ensure that our graduates can successfully access stable careers with advancement opportunities that pay a family-sustaining wage.  We focus specifically on STEM careers, aligned with Boston’s rich STEM industries.

The School.  The Dearborn STEM Academy is an open-enrollment Boston Public School; there are no barriers to entry.  We serve 600 students in grades 6-12, most of whom come through one of four neighborhood elementary schools. Dearborn’s mission is to graduate students with the 21st century skills required for college and career success, prepared to serve as thoughtful, engaged citizens, who contribute to the health, vibrancy and development of their community.

Every Dearborn student graduates with a post-secondary postgraduate plan which is focused on their interests and ambitions, and ,informed by their coursework, work experiences, and  early college experience. Dearborn students are empowered to envision their futures in college and career through opportunities to experience both in a supportive high school environment.  

Career Pathways.  All Dearborn students enroll in one of three STEM Career Pathways during their 11th and 12th grade years: Computer Science, Engineering/Advanced Manufacturing, and Heath & Life Sciences. Two of our Pathways have received state designation, with our Health & Life Sciences designation currently under review for approval. Students in 9th and 10th grades are introduced to the Pathways and engaged in career exploration experiences.

Coursework. A key element of our Pathways is interdisciplinary curriculum. English and Social Studies teachers work together with the Pathways course teacher and industry partners to create coursework that brings the Pathway to life for students, through meaningful and engaging projects, and through relevant and authentic performance assessments aligned to industry standards, culminating in a Defense of Learning presentation at the end of their junior year, and a Capstone at the send of their senior year which are presented to the school community.   

Work Experience. Every Dearborn student completes a 90-hour internship. We build students’ readiness for the internship through a series of career exploration, exposure, and engagement activities, beginning in middle school.

Early College.  Every Dearborn student completes at least one Early College course before they graduate.  Many students will complete multiple courses, with some students earning an Associate’s degree simultaneously with their high school diploma.

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