Each aspect of our program is designed to enable students to cultivate personal, academic, and professional excellence.

Our Learning Philosophy

ATI aims to offer adolescents a school that blends experiential and intellectual learning with opportunities for real creativity and work. We lay a foundation for success in life for all students through our core classes and then individualize the school experience for each student through our one-on-one coaching, our elective offerings and our support for independent student work.

Student Coaching

“The coaching model is different from the traditional conception of pedagogy, where there’s a presumption that, after a certain point, the student no longer needs instruction…Coaching done well may be the most effective intervention designed for human performance.” –Atul Gawande

Coaching is central to our middle school and high school programs at ATI. Every student at ATI has a coach — a staff member who works one-on-one with a student throughout their ATI experience. Students and coaches meet every other week to connect, to discuss progress and challenges and to problem solve together.

At the heart of our coaching practice is a belief that each student should have an adult at school who deeply knows them and is fully committed to supporting their development as a learner and as a capable young person. Coaching at ATI is grounded in expert guidance from someone devoted to and capable of helping adolescents grow and flourish. It’s grounded also in a strong personal connection—between an adolescent and a coach who owns creating a relationship of profound trust. From these two fundaments emerges guidance on adolescent life—on learning and beyond—that is personalized and adaptive, observational and strategic, deep and meaningful.

The entire program at ATI is mediated by the coaching relationship to ensure that our vast offerings and ambitious vision are delivered to the student in a way that is handcrafted, meaningful, and impactful.

ATI Middle School Program (Grades 7-8)

Academic Core

Our middle school program strengthens the foundation for intellectual excellence, social development, and executive functioning for students. We prepare students to develop more responsibility for their learning, to engage thoughtfully with others and with their environment, and to continuously nurture their ability to make good decisions for themselves.

Academically, our program consists in two programs, in the humanities and in STEM. In STEM, Students develop their critical thinking, analysis, and hone their understanding of the world through their science and math studies. They take the foundations of mathematical and scientific knowledge that provides the foundation for modern life, and internalize it, using it expand their own thinking and explanatory frameworks. Through our science labs, our makerspace, and their own projects, they also use it to create and shape their world.

In the humanities, our students study history, literature, and philosophy, learning the facts, narratives, and big ideas that shape the course of human life—as a means to taking conscious command of the ideas shaping their own lives. Our students also take English Language Arts, to become more thoughtful and critical readers and writers, to develop their understanding of literary genres and to make connections to their own experience and ideas. Students continue to develop their understanding of scientific principles, do lab work and become more engaged in developing and testing hypothesis through our science classes.

Beyond Academics

In addition to our strong academics, our middle school program serves as a bridge to and contact point for life beyond the school.

Our program is distinguished by experiential and place-based learning. We are lucky to be located in one of the most vibrant neighborhoods in one of the most vibrant cities in the world. We are intentional about taking advantage of our location to support student learning. Our students have the opportunity to explore a range of interests, and we use our Friday afternoons to get out into the city and make connections between our classroom and the world beyond the classroom.

We also partner with local artists and business so students can learn first-hand about career choices, can shadow professionals to learn more about their work, and are set up with a rich body of experience to draw upon as they start to think about their own futures.

Finally — our students engage, with their coaches, with each other, and independently — in real work and decision-making at the school. Our students have community meetings where they discuss and solve problems, they create ideas for extended, interdisciplinary work and form teams to execute it, and they help (and even take the lead on) planning city excursions.

We also afford our students the opportunity to learn Spanish and dance, as well as makerspace—both the space itself, for creative and project work, and as an elective to more systematically learn different tools and creative principles.

Core Curriculum

Our core curriculum establishes the intellectual and socio-emotional foundations for students to thrive. Our three core classes, required for all students every year at ATI, are Socratic Humanities, Life Design, and Analysis.

  • What are the ideas that have shaped our world? How do we understand what is true, what is good, what is right? What should individuals, communities, and cultures value—and why—and what does it look like when they do so? Our Socratic Humanities core class engages students in exploring these fundamental questions through deep reading of seminal texts ranging from Plato and Siddhartha to Martin Luther King Jr and Maya Angelou. Through using the text as our teacher and engaging in rich dialogue with each other, students develop their ability to analyze, listen, share, and think for themselves. And they develop deep knowledge of and facility with the big ideas of the humanities, empowering them to think their way into the life and world they choose.

  • Who are you? What kind of life do you want to create for yourself? How can you better understand yourself and develop agency and responsibility for your own choices and actions? What practices and habits support healthy development and our capacity to thrive in school, family, friendships, and professionally? Our Life Design class supports student exploration of these questions—and mastery of these practices—in small group settings and enables students to better understand themselves and to develop mindsets and skills to help them become who they want to be.

  • What does it mean to think like a mathematician? To understand how to approach any particular problem and to apply concepts and discern patterns? To develop hypothesis, test them, and to deploy a set of intellectual tools to uncover solutions? Since the time of the Ancient Greeks, math has served as a model for critical aspects of human reasoning. Our math core classes, covering Euclid’s Elements, Algebra, Statistics, and Computer Science, develop deep mathematical knowledge in a variety of useful and practical domains. Equally important, these classes develop and exercise reasoning and problem-solving skills that transcend math and will be valuable to students professionally, in their personal lives and in navigating a world increasingly characterized by demanding, rapid change.

Electives

In addition to our core curriculum, we offer a wide range of elective courses for students to widen the breadth of their academic foundations and deepen their intellectual, creative and entrepreneurial interests.

We also offer a range of creative and practical electives such as design thinking, painting, art appreciation, film-making, and makerspace. These classes allow student to develop their artistic abilities and vision, practice their technical expertise using physical and digital tools to design, build, and create things, and hone their unique perspectives and understandings of form and function.

Independent Work

One of our core values at ATI is “The Dignity of Work.” Central to the ATI experience is the opportunity for students to engage in a variety of “real work” to help them connect their interests and abilities to the world beyond school.

Work can take many forms. It includes students collaborating with staff to design, create and work on their own projects over a quarter, semester or the year. It includes students finding internships with local business or organizations to build their understanding of various industries and types of work. It also can include supporting students in pursuing a part-time job while at ATI related to their interests to develop skills and perspective, help them get familiar with professional contexts and challenges and build a network and portfolio of relevance.

Life After ATI

Our students are excited to translate their ideas, knowledge and skills to the world beyond ATI. We work closely with each student throughout their time at ATI to clarify their goals for what's next and to make sure they are prepared with the resources and tools to reach those goals.

Most of our students are passionate about continuing their education in college and using their ATI education to get more out of higher education. We work closely with each student to explore the range of colleges where they will thrive, to understand what's needed to gain admissions, and to support their choices, work and preparation at ATI to ensure they are set up to enroll in a college of their choice.

Some of our students want to start their own ventures, through creating a small business, doing independent contracting or by going straight into a professional role. We help them understand what's needed to establish themselves, to test their ideas and to help them be set up for authentic success.

Others still want to pursue their creative and artistic talents by going to design, film or art school and building on their portfolios from ATI. For those students, we help them understand the quality of work necessary to be accepted to creative schools, how to make choices at ATI that will enable them to maximize their artistic progress and support them in building an impressive portfolio of work.

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