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Academics at ATI North Scottsdale

ATI North Scottsdale 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 North Scottsdale 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 North Scottsdale 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 North Scottsdale 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 North Scottsdale 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

Carolyn Burns

Head of School

Middle School Guide

Kara Casillas

Middle School Guide

Ms. Kara is a graduate of Arizona State University with a focus on history and literature. She has a strong professional background in manufacturing, construction, and logistics. She kept in touch with the teaching community throughout her academic and professional career by working at a childcare center with younger children and being in the classroom with older children as a student teacher. As Montessori student herself, Ms. Kara has a deep understanding of Montessori values. Her goal as a teacher is to share these values academically and socially to help guide her students into adulthood. In her spare time, Ms. Kara likes to play fetch with her 3 dogs and play Mario Kart with her family.

Assistant Head of School

Elizabeth Braman

Assistant Head of School

Elizabeth is an experienced educator with a passion for Montessori Philosophy. Since 2012, she has been providing social guidance and academic support to students across the Valley. She spent the last 5 years in leadership positions, where her primary focus has been on developing new, innovative programs and education initiatives. She has worked in a number of non-traditional school environments, and her background includes extensive work with students who have special needs. My experience in education has led me to conclude that the Montessori Method is the best method for students to truly learn. The focus on children as individuals, capable of discovery and self-discipline, is something she has kept at the forefront of her instruction and leadership, and she is ecstatic to contribute to an environment where these values are encouraged.

Coaching at ATI North Scottsdale

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 North Scottsdale, 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 North Scottsdale 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 middle school in North Scottsdale

What parents are saying about academics

ATI Student

Our daughter has had a wonderful experience at ATI. She is challenged far more than was the case at her public school. Our daughter receives the kind of individual attention that would be unheard of even at most private schools. The faculty is kind, fun and creative, and they take our daughter's education very seriously.

Dan F.

ATI North Scottsdale 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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