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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

The ATI Chantilly curriculum is rooted in thought and industry

A Montessori philosophy emphasizes that teens should work hard: not only in school, but also in the real world. Our goal at ATI is 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, which unlocks their potential to:

  • Make a difference in the world by doing real work
  • Contribute to the community as a productive member
  • Embrace your natural desire for independence
ATI Chantilly Curricular Tree

The ATI Curricular Tree

The first quarter at ATI is spent exploring the foundations of knowledge, like the roots of a tree. The roots of these courses lead to a strong trunk of core subjects, such as math, science, literature, and history. As students master core curriculum, they begin branching off into individualized learning and real-world opportunities as they gain mastery.

The Roots: Foundations Quarter

As students begin middle school at ATI, they go through a foundations quarter. During this 8-week period, students immerse themselves in the school's community and learn how to thrive in a self-directed environment. The objectives of each course during this eight-week period are the same:
ATI creates a culture of work

Create a culture of work

We welcome students from all walks of life, and some are prepared for a self-directed learning approach, while others are not. Students take the foundation courses to determine how much structure they require to start their ATI journey.

Create motivation and engagement with material

There are many students who come to ATI with no specific idea of what they want out of school. Some students may find some or all areas of the curriculum boring, or they may find them inaccessible (the student who says: "I can't do math!"). A foundation course explains the "why" of each discipline. What is the importance of history? What makes math so exciting? To do this in a very different way from what has been done in a classroom in the past.

Set students on a path towards independent inquiry

Considering so many options in a curricular tree, it is necessary to assess each student's knowledge, skills, and attitudes.

Social and emotional skills are included as well as content knowledge. To ensure that each student enters the program with full visibility, we spend the entire first quarter getting to know them holistically.

Middle School Coursework

Middle School Coursework

The Branches: Optional Courses

Students have the opportunity to explore areas of personal interest as they advance through the program. Courses such as these can be offered in their own communities, or in collaboration with the global network: drawing and filmmaking from LA-based artists; human progress and philosophy explored with Chantilly philosophers; and anatomy studied in Texas with a surgeon. Experts are brought to students regardless of where they are physically located. As they chart their own curricular path with their coach, students are empowered to find their own passions. Here are some examples of branch courses:

Opportunities to Explore

Electives, entrepreneurial opportunities, and internships help build an intentional curriculum.
Elective Courses

Elective Courses

Students have an ever-expanding and changing catalogue of optional courses to deepen their passions or discover something new! Each quarter brings new options, either on campus or taught virtually by world experts. Examples include Drawing as Creative Practice and Digital Art, taught by professional working artists in LA. Greek Mythology, taught by a college professor in Antiquities; Creative Writing taught by an award-winning young adult novelist, and more.
Entrepreneurship Opportunities at ATI


Micro-economy is a key value of Montessori programs. Many of our middle school programs create campus-wide businesses, and students work in bookshops, coffee shops, or small campus farms. As they progress towards high school, many students begin launching their own entrepreneurship. Some student businesses have included photography studios, web design companies, crafting co-ops, and more: all connected with mentors who help craft business plans and support long-term and real-world success.
Internships at ATI


In high school, students begin to identify areas of particular interest in the world. Students are encouraged to participate in existing internship programs, ranging from Montessori education to marketing or music production, or to identify an area of interest and work with their coach to identify and earn a new internship opportunity. Prior intern opportunities have included botanical gardens, doctors’ offices, congressmen, and more.
ATI Virtual Middle School and High School

Virtual School Option

Serving both middle and high school students, our virtual school delivers a powerful education for independence through our:

  • Montessori-based curriculum
  • Coaching program designed by experts
  • Individualized approach to learning
  • Flexible and student-led work supported by guides and coaches
  • Our virtual students receive quarterly packages of materials, from science lab kits to journals that support them in their learning.
Learn more about ATI virtual middle and high school

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.

Coaching at ATI Chantilly

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 Chantilly, students are paired with coaches, who serve as supportive guides and mentors. In school, the coach's role is to make himself obsolete as the student develops social, emotional, and cognitive skills to become her own coach. The coach is not a tutor or guidance counselor; he or she is a powerful and unique partner who helps students achieve their full potential.

Learn more about Coaching

Planning for College and Career Development

The ultimate goal of ATI Chantilly is to create students who thrive: living happy, fulfilling, and productive lives. Each student is guided through the process of identifying their values, setting specific goals, and learning how to achieve them. Throughout this process, they gain a sense of accomplishment and prepare themselves for a variety of careers.

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 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.

Experience school on your terms

Join a school community designed to support your education with coaching, small classes, and a commitment to our core values. Engage in deep study and personal exploration as a student at ATI.

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Visit Higher Ground Education to learn more about our mission to make learner-centered education the mainstream.

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