Academy of Thought and Industry at Austin | Academy of Thought and Industry
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What is ATI?


Virtual School


Academy of Thought and Industry at Austin

We are a modern Montessori-inspired middle and high school in Austin, TX delivering a powerful education for independence, to develop curious, self-motivated adolescents who thrive in school and in life

Welcome to ATI Austin

Offering Middle and High School programs

Welcome to the Academy of Thought and Industry at ATI Austin! We are middle and high school for a rapidly developing world that helps young people step into their full potential through meaningful and engaged academics, individual coaching, real world work, and an ambitious and supportive community.

I am an Austin native and proud product of a radical high school educational model that altered the course of my life for the better. I have devoted my life to re-imagining adolescent education and the product is the Academy of Thought and Industry.

Whether you are a student, parent, or interested community member, we want to connect with you. We invite you to reach out to come to a visit, tour during an open house, or attend an end of semester showcase.

I look forward to talking to you about how we can support teens rise.

Julia Richards, Head of School

A look at our campus

Tour our school in 3D

Tour our school in 3D

Join our community

Hear what makes our ATI Austin community special. Our students have accomplished some amazing things - from publishing a children's book to starting their own photography business.
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
J. PageATI Austin Parent
Our son is becoming a great critical thinker and a strong writer while also being 3 years ahead of public school in math. We feel that ATI is not only preparing him for college but life.
Krista J.ATI Austin, Parent
It's a small community with the largest heart I have ever seen from a school.
Derek H.
Parent, ATI Austin

Meet the faculty

Head of School

Julia Richards

Head of School

Julia earned her bachelor’s degree in English literature from Brown University. After several years working in literacy education, she discovered Montessori and completed her AMI Elementary and Adolescent Certification. She created an adolescent program where she discovered the joy of working with teens. She has organized Montessori teacher trainings at the adolescent level, including the AMI/NAMTA Orientation to Adolescent Studies. She initially joined Higher Ground as a Programs Coach and Manager, working to support all ATI campuses, but she missed being in a school community- and in November 2020 joined ATI Austin. She could not be happier to be back working directly with students. Outside of work, Julia is a yoga instructor, enjoys singing and spending time with loved ones, and has a cat called Boo.

Assistant Head of School

Josh Gershon

Assistant Head of School

Josh has been in the human development space for over 15 years as a certified life coach, personal development entrepreneur, meditation guide, mentor, and youth leader. In 2015, he co-founded Startup Island, an experiential learning platform that has curated retreats, workshops, conscious conversations, and developmental resources for thousands of students and professionals globally. Josh's educational mission is to help every individual become the CEO of their life. In his personal life, Josh is a lover of nature, writer of poetry, and while he thoroughly enjoys being surrounded by books and/or trees, his happy place is nowhere other than alone on a basketball court — likely pretending there are 5 seconds left on the clock and the game is in his hands!

High School Science Guide

Kristina Read Tambunga

High School Science Guide

Kristina earned a bachelor’s degree in Contemporary Studies and Organizational Leadership at historic Wilfrid Laurier University in Brantford, Ontario. She has always had a passion for learning and teaching but her path to teaching was a long and winding one. From wrangling animals to pouring espresso shots, Kristina’s life finally changed for the better in 2014 when she first began teaching. Since then, she’s taught science, maker education, and everything in between! When she’s not cooking up plans for the next cool project to do with her students, Kristina is running wild with her dogs, journaling, and learning new languages.

High School Humanities Guide

Brendan Gaughen

High School Humanities Guide

Brendan earned a doctorate in American Studies from the University of Texas and a master's degree in American Studies from California State University, Fullerton. He has taught courses about rhetoric and writing, American history, media and culture, and the history of utopian communities in the U.S. In his spare time, he enjoys collecting records, watching bad movies, and playing with his cats. A lifelong collector and traveler, Brendan has the life-long goal of visiting each of the 3143 counties in the United States.

High School Math Guide

Leroy Farmer

High School Math Guide

Leroy earned a bachelor's degree in Physics from University of Texas at Austin and a bachelor's degree in Mathematics from Kennesaw State University. He started mentoring peers in math 12 years ago while tutoring Calculus AB and AP Physics. Leroy has developed educational content for 6 years, including textbook publication and SAT, ACT, and AP practice exams. He has been working with our ATI Austin students since the 2019-20 school year. In his leisure time, Leroy loves to play video games and spending time with his senior rescue dog, Daisy.

Middle School STEM Guide

Ashley Williams

Middle School STEM Guide

Ashley earned a Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences in 2017. She began her teaching career the same year working with students overseas. Ashley began her teaching journey 4 years ago, but she has worked as a tutor/mentor to students with developmental disabilities throughout her undergrad career. While she is new to the Montessori community, she has loved and studied Montessori's philosophy for many years. Originally from California, she moved to Austin in 2018. She fell in love with the beautiful landscapes, as she loves all things outdoors. Ashley also has a passion for the arts, as she is a former makeup artist, and novice painter herself!

Middle School Humanities Guide

Matt Ballin

Middle School Humanities Guide

Matt entered the field of education over a decade ago when he moved across the country to begin teaching and writing history curriculum. Since then, he has earned a Montessori certification from the Association Montessori Internationale, taught humanities-related courses to ages from elementary through high school, and worked on the Higher Ground Education programs team developing curriculum and training & mentoring guides at our adolescent schools across the country. His mission is to help create learning environments that enable students to live a fully human life, now and in the future: one of knowledge, action, and self-determination.

Start your journey with us

Learn about ATI by attending one or more of our upcoming events and virtual info sessions
Consider a attending Shadow Day on campus to experience a day in the life of an ATI student
Submit your student application to ATI, which includes the option for financial aid (if necessary)
Work with Admissions to prepare for your first day of school! We can't wait to have you join our community

Take a school tour

ATI Austin is located at 5815 Airport Blvd, Austin, TX 78752. We'd love for you to come and visit!

Attend a program overviewBook a Tour

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.

Learn more about our:

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

Get Started
Fill out the form and a Learning Advisor will get in touch within 24 hours.