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Academics at ATI Chantilly

ATI Chantilly offers a Montessori-inspired education that combines creative, independent, and personalized learning. Part-time, summer, and full-time programs are available.

The ATI Curriculum

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
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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.

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 More About Prepared Environment


Middle 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.


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

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.

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.

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 toward the college of their dreams; for others, it is continuing a business started while in high school or a path toward an ambitious career. Whatever the goal, we work together to ensure students have the resources to meet it.

Middle School Coursework

Middle School Coursework
Student Outcomes

Student Outcomes

Our middle school students are often interested in pursuing higher education, and 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:

ATI Chantilly Teaching Staff

Unlike a traditional school model, Montessori education uses guides instead of teachers. During the Montessori process, teachers or guides are there to guide students toward their innate potential while guiding them through the process of learning and self-construction.

Our Team

Head of School

Nancy Kaplan

Head of School

Nancy Kaplan has been and educator for over 30 years, working with children between the ages of 16 months to 18 years. She earned both her bachelor's and master's degrees from Columbia University in New York, with a Bachelor of Arts in English from Barnard College and a Master of Arts in Education Administration from Teachers College.  Starting first as a middle and high school English and drama teacher, Nancy went on to hold independent school administrative roles in New York, Virginia and Washington, D.C., including  Middle School principal and then Assistant Head of School before she became Head of School at Leport Montessori in Chantilly in 2016, which then became Guidepost Montessori at Chantilly in 2019. Having sent one of her sons to a Montessori school for some of his most formative years, Nancy deeply appreciates the student-directed approach Montessori offers, as well as the deep respect for each child every teacher provides. With over two decades working specifically with middle school students, Nancy is looking forward to returning to her work with adolescents as the Northern Virginia area’s Academy of Thought and Industry move to her campus at Chantilly. In her free time, Ms. Kaplan enjoys practicing yoga, attending live music and theater performances, hiking, cooking, reading and travel.

Middle School Lead Guide

Emma Godwin

Middle School Lead Guide

After receiving her undergraduate degree from the University of Delaware, Emma Godwin found herself engrossed in educational studies and research. She joined the Teach for America Delaware Team and enrolled in the Relay Graduate School of Education's Masters of Teaching program. Emma completed her two-year program and gained many skills. Through TFA DE and Relay GSE, she gained real-world experiences as well as certifications. After her two-year commitment, she began teaching at First State Montessori Academy, Delaware's first public Montessori school. While there, she earned her Montessori certification through the Center for Guided Montessori Studies and honed her skills in following a philosophy of student independence and individualism. Throughout her professional career, she has engaged in curriculum building, leadership roles, management positions, mental health awareness campaigns, and practical life curricula. Emma has transplanted to DC with her three dogs (Penny, Ruby & Atka), a plethora of plants, and her husband, Taylor. They both enjoy hiking, reading, a strong cup of coffee on a snowy morning, and engaging in advocacy work. Through her own professional career, she has found it is easy to build scaffolded individualized supports for students within a given curriculum. She hopes to bring a sense of community, individualism, and positivity to Guidepost Montessori here in Virginia.

Middle School Lead Guide

Amanda Waldron

Middle School Lead Guide

Ms. Amanda attended a Montessori school through Children's House and Lower Elementary herself and, before joining the Guidepost Community, her career in education had always been inspired by what she had remembered from her own childhood Montessori classroom. The Montessori method has truly amazed her, and she remains fascinated by the ingenuity of the Montessori materials. Ms. Amanda graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Economics from the University of Mary Washington. While attending college, she accepted her first role as a Lead Teacher at a traditional preschool which is when her ongoing journey of discovering what fosters children's independence and nurtures their desire to learn began. She took her foundations of Montessori course in the Summer of 2020 and is now working toward completion of her Montessori Elementary training through the Prepared Montessorian Institute.

ATI Chantilly Academics FAQs

  • High-achieving students who are looking for an intellectually-challenging school
  • College-bound students looking to get into competitive institutions
  • Ambitious teens looking for a small, private school and a more personalized learning environment
  • Homeschooled or virtual school students looking for more opportunities to socialize and excel
  • Students who are looking for a supportive and accepting community
  • Advanced students looking for a Montessori-inspired middle school
  • Gifted and Talented students looking for an alternative to public high school in Chantilly

What parents are saying about academics

ATI Student

ATI has been a godsend for our family. Our child needed a break from the academic pressures of boarding school but still wanted a rigorous learning experience. The choose-your-own-adventure method of teaching, learning, and achieving at ATI provided a pressure-free environment from which our son could go deep in math and chemistry.

Abigail T.

ATI Chantilly Parent

The Academy of Thought and Industry Austin has received 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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