Seaport Academy was recently recognized in The Navy Yard News, a quarterly publication of the friends of the Charlestown Navy Yard, as emphasizing collaborative problem solving and a curriculum designed to be flexible enough to meet the wide variety of learning needs presented by their students.
Here is the story:
“We’ve scrapped the usual style of ‘reward-consequence’ learning in favor of collaboration — students identify issues and help solve problems together,” says Alex Tsonas, Director of Seaport Academy at Flagship Wharf. The 26 students in grades 8 through 12 come from school districts throughout the city, and beyond, to accomplish a range of skills in a close-knit environment with 15 staff members. “We’re an ‘alternative’ alternative high school,” says Tsonas. “We have a flexible curriculum to meet the needs of students with different learning styles,” from typical classroom work to the YMCA for physical education and the Commerce Center on Terminal Street where students operate a wood shop and a bike-repair shop. Noisy classrooms may distract an observer from seeing a rich environment of peer learning, practicing social skills and anger management, and keen problem solving as they work toward high school diplomas; and graduating students have 100 percent MCAS success, says the director. Located on the water side of flagship wharf for 15 years, seaport Academy occupies the first floor with offices, classrooms, computer room, and a school store.
The social side of learning is hugely important to prepare the boys for post high school. Graduates move on to jobs, the military, vocational school, or college, and even graduate school, Tsonas says. Individual school districts send and pay for the students, who have a disability that prevents them from success in their own schools. Typically a student spends two to four years of his high school at seaport. Currently, the school is setting up an advisory board to include navy yard residents, which would help design programs, guide fund raising, and advocate for the school. the school places high value on social interaction and community activities. “we have rich community service programs,” says Tsonas. students have engaged in river clean-ups, planting spring bulbs, collecting items for salvation Army and toys for tots, but are not widely known. “They know us, and store 24, flagship, and the park,” says Tsonas, but he would be pleased to have the wider navy yard community become acquainted with his boys and their accomplishments.