What is ATI?


Virtual School



The ATI Curriculum

The Academy of Thought and Industry combines an emphasis on deep academic study with a Montessori approach to individualized learning into a curriculum designed for life.
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A curriculum rooted in thought and industry

Montessori philosophy emphasizes the central role of work in the process of self-creation. The nature of work at this developmental plane looks different from early childhood or elementary. Adolescent students are transitioning into adulthood and exploring the new roles, relationships, and responsibilities that entails.

At ATI, we strive to remove the artificial barriers between vocational and avocational courses; what's needed for class and what's chosen for life. Students are encouraged to integrate their passions with their studies, unlocking their potential to:

  • Make a difference in the world
  • Contribute to the community as a productive member
  • Embrace their natural desire for independence
View the Program Guide

Mastery-based learning

At ATI, we believe that all students can become masters if they are given sufficient time and adequate instruction. Rather than putting emphasis on grades, we work with our students on the goal of mastering new knowledge and skills. This is a paradigm shift in thinking that allows learning to happen at each student’s pace, tailored to them, and with mastery clearly defined.

  • Learning is not time-limited. Some students are ready to move on quickly; others need more time. Students pass to new material when they're ready, not because a certain amount of time has elapsed
  • Instruction needs to be appropriate for each individual student, not someone else. That means clear objectives, a variety of learning methods, individualized support, and learner-centered instruction
  • Mastery is defined. Students track their own progress towards mastering learning objectives, and demonstrate their skill and understanding in a variety of ways

We work with Mastery Transcript Consortium to create a transcript that supports each teen’s learning today, opening doors for them in the future.

The prepared environment

A “Prepared Environment”

Montessori educators talk extensively about the “prepared environment.” This is Montessori’s word for the classroom: the physical space, but also the intangible elements - the culture, the routines, the schedule, the norms. Everything that communicates, without a word, the values of the school. The prepared environment is the third component of a triad containing the guide and the student: a “third teacher.” Without giving a lesson, the environment nonetheless teaches its students about the type of world they inhabit, about the values of their school, and about the trust that the community holds for them.

Read About Prepared Environment
Coaching at ATI


Middle and high school students experience intense physical and emotional growth during adolescence. For many students, setting goals, exploring values, and managing schedules are new experiences — and these tasks are challenging at any age! Even though growing independence and freedom are desirable and necessary, they require support and planning.

At ATI, every student is paired with a coach who serves as a supportive guide and mentor. The coach is not a tutor or a guidance counselor; they are a powerful and unique partner who helps students achieve their full potential.

Learn More about Coaching

Create motivation and engagement through love of work

There are many students who come to ATI with no specific idea of what they want out of school. It is common for students at this stage to find some or all areas of instruction inaccessible (the student who says, “I can’t do math!”) or irrelevant (“Why do we need this anyway?”). Our courses seek to explain the "why" of each discipline. What is the importance of history? What makes math essential? We combine this cognitive engagement with an individualized instructional approach that enables students to both identify and pursue their unique interests.

Art Guide David Tenorio

Network Courses

Our schools are intentionally small communities, uniquely linked in a large global network. One of the advantages of this structure is access to content experts around the world! Students can sign into live courses taught by professionals working and living in these fields: drawing courses taught by professional artists; film-making by LA-based directors; human progress and philosophy by philosophers at the University of Toronto; human anatomy by a surgeon in Texas. Wherever your student is located, with the power of the ATI network, the world’s experts are available to them.

Entrepreneurship and Micro-Economy

Entrepreneurship and Micro-Economy

Micro-economy is a hallmark of a Montessori adolescent program. Dr. Montessori imagined adolescents working together to create a small business that served the needs of the educational community. The goals of this “micro-economy” include:

  • Serving as a necessary and valued member of the community
  • Seeing the impact of knowledge and skill gains on practical work
  • Gaining confidence in their ability to survive and thrive in the real world

Many of our middle school communities work together on campus-wide businesses, including bookshops, coffee shops, small campus farms, and selling handmade products online and at local craft fairs.

In both middle and high school, many of our students begin to start their own small businesses, supported by both coursework and individual mentorship around crafting a business plan, making a website, professional networking, and more. Entrepreneurship is keenly aligned with Montessori principles and the values at ATI: encouraging students to pursue their individual passion at a high level, integrating knowledge from every area of academic study. From photography, to crafting co-ops, to web design and self-published graphic novels, students at ATI set and achieve ambitious goals that have the potential to change the world.

Internships at ATI


In high school, students begin to identify areas of particular interest in the world and many choose to participate in existing internship programs, or to identify an area of interest and work with their coach to earn a new internship opportunity. Prior interns have worked in hospitals, supporting local congressmen, at theater companies and botanical gardens, in marketing departments for international companies, and as guides-in-training for Montessori early childhood classrooms.

Planning for College and Career Development

Planning for College and Career Development

The ultimate goal of ATI is to create students who thrive in happy, fulfilling, and productive lives. From admission onward, each student at ATI has a team behind them. The head of school, coach, college counselor, and guides are invested in supporting each student to identify his or her personal goals and how to achieve them. For many students, this involves a path towards the college of their dreams; for others it is continuing a business started while in high school, or a path towards an ambitious career. Whatever the goal, we work together to ensure students have the resources to meet it.

Our college-bound seniors have a 100% placement rate.

Student Outcomes

Our college-bound seniors have a 100% placement rate. Along with their coach and guides, students work with a full-time, licensed college counselor. Here is where you will find some of our recent ATI graduates:

Teaching Staff at ATI

Teaching Staff

Teachers in Montessori schools are called “guides,” emphasizing their unique role in providing direction and support. Our guides come from a variety of backgrounds, bringing their unique life experiences and educational expertise into the classroom with them. All of our instructors are either Montessori certified, or currently enrolled in a Montessori certificate program.

ATI Guides

Meet some of our guides

Head of School

Dr. Ann Orsinger

Head of School

Ann is passionate about reading great books, leading great discussions, and clarifying thoughts through writing; she also loves math, science, art, and sports. Ann’s educational inspiration comes from her undergraduate work at St. John’s College, in Santa Fe. After St. John’s, she attended the Logic and Philosophy of Science Department at the University of California, Irvine, receiving her master’s degree in Philosophy. She then received her 2nd master’s degree and her PhD from the Government Department at the University of Texas, Austin, writing her dissertation on developing democratic civic virtues through aesthetic education and design.

High School Science and Makerspace Guide

Randie Piscitello

High School Science and Makerspace Guide

Randie Piscitello is a born and raised Austin native that graduated from the University of Texas in Austin with a Bachelor of Science in Human Biology. While all of her career choices have centered around education, the sciences, and health, her hobbies lie deep in the creative expressions. Randie is a talented photographer and jewelry and epoxy artist, and enjoys pursuing new creative ventures with her students. Randie comes to the Academy of Thought and Industry with a deep background in Montessori platforms, both as a previous primary and adolescent guide. She is transitioning to us from a vibrant adolescent STEM community and looks forward to the in-depth and hands-on projects that she will be tackling with the high school science community and the entire ATI creative learning student community.

High School Humanities Guide

Ian Caveny

High School Humanities Guide

Ian is a lifelong thinker, writer, and explorer whose academic interests have taken him across academic disciplines. He receive a bachelor's degree in Chemistry from Southern Illinois University of Edwardsville, but then left the sciences behind to explore an intellectual trajectory into English and Comparative Literature in a master's degree at the University of Chicago... and then he got restless and decided to pursue a second master's degree in Religious Studies at the University of Chicago Divinity School! He delights in the discovery of new knowledge, and he brings that delight to ATI Virtual School as a Liberal Arts and Literature guide. In his free time, Ian enjoys spending time with his family, working on a variety of writing projects, and teaching an occasional college rhetoric course.

Academics FAQs

  • Ambitious teens looking to follow their passions with support and guidance
  • High-achieving students who are looking for an intellectually challenging school
  • Students looking for a small, supportive community and a more personalized learning path
  • Montessori students from early childhood who want to continue thriving in this model of education
  • Anyone who wants to think and do in a place that encourages you to actualize your full potential in school and beyond

What Parents are saying about Academics at ATI

ATI Parent Testimonial

I love this school. I was a steadfast believer in public schools, until my daughter reached middle school. She spiraled through her 3 years at middle school, not being heard or listened to (except by a few) and was pushed aside for numerous reasons. By the time she got to 8th grade, I had watched my daughter go from a bright student who loved school and learning to a student who thought she lacked all intellectual capabilities and hated going to school... (At ATI) she has rediscovered her intellectual spark and her creative passions. Rather than being left in the dark as parent, we keep in close contact with her guides and her coach. I feel more supported as a parent than I have ever felt through out my daughter's career as a student.

Rhonda S.

ATI Parent

ATI Parent Testimonial

Public school is not for everyone. I have 2 sons - one of whom excels in a traditional school environment, and the other who was stifled and frustrated by it. I am so grateful for ATI Austin and what the school has done, even within a short time, for my son's love of learning and outlook on school and education. I never thought I would hear him say that he loves school, but whenever anyone asks him about it, that is exactly what he says.

Paige V.

ATI Parent

ATI Parent Testimonial

My son enjoys the small community, the care, and individualized support of his Guides (Teachers) and the overarching vision of learning in support of the whole person at ATI. ATI's approach and learning structure provide opportunities for deep engagement with complex content supporting the development of critical thinking skills. ATI aligns student interests, creativity, and talents towards individual learning goals by honoring student voice and choice.

Tracy M.

ATI Parent

Accreditation by Cognia and WASC

The Academy of Thought and Industry has received accreditation by Cognia™ and WASC, the Accrediting Commission for Schools Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Earning accreditation from the Cognia Global Accreditation Commission means that the system and all of its domestic and international schools are accredited, and that ATI is recognized across the nation as meeting the Cognia Standards of Quality. ACS WASC accredits elementary and secondary schools; non-degree granting adult schools; and supplementary education programs.

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