How we see Academy of Thought and Industry Toronto
Offering a highly individualized curriculum, Academy of Thought and Industry (ATI) Toronto students are supported in unique ways while still completing the rigorous, self-paced core academic curriculum they’ll need to thrive in higher education. With small class sizes and a tight-knit community, the school offers a hands-on learning style where students are supported in personal projects, custom internships, and electives suited to their interests. Every student is paired with a coach to support the process of social and emotional development so fundamental to adolescence. The school describes its curriculum as “designed for life,” offering a third choice beyond the rigours of more traditional private schools and some other less demanding schools. As part of a network of eight ATI schools across North America, students can access a wide range of extracurricular activities that run both locally and virtually. ATI strives to deeply understand each student, to help them thrive emotionally and socially, and to support their individual path to excellence.
How Academy of Thought and Industry Toronto sees itself
"ATI's curriculum is rooted in thought & industry, in thinking and doing. In addition to our core academic curriculum, students take the driver's seat by tackling personal projects, entrepreneurial ventures and electives suited to their interests. Every student at ATI is paired with a coach, to support the process of self-creation that is so fundamental to adolescence. We strive to deeply know each student, to help them thrive emotionally and socially, and to support their individual path to excellence."
"Too often, parents and students face a choice between traditional schools —lacking flexibility and individualization— or “progressive schools” that fall short in delivering deep knowledge and an intentional curriculum. At ATI, we combine deep study of core subjects with a focus on real-world exploration and application. This transforms the school experience from disengaged participation to thriving
and passionate learners who have an ever-increasing capacity for independent exploration."
"Rather than an emphasis on memorization or standardized testing, all knowledge at ATI is deeply practical. Coursework is motivated by real-world problems and challenges—from Socratic discussions in literature courses, to field research in science, to entrepreneurship, internships, and more. It is this fusion of deep knowledge (thought) applied to real-world problems (industry) that captures our approach."
"Every ATI school is a tight-knit community that is also connected to a network of other ATI locations. The network allows you to learn from industry experts, take part in unique electives, find mentors in your field and connect with peers across North America."
"Every student at ATI is paired with a coach, a supportive guide who serves as thought partner and mentor. The coach’s role, over the course of the school years, is to make herself obsolete: as the student gains the social, emotional, and cognitive skills to enable her to serve as her own coach going forward. This is not a tutor or a guidance counselor; the coach is a powerful and unique partner to help each student unlock his or her full potential."
"Adolescent Montessori education utilizes similar strategies to what you would see in an early childhood Montessori environment:
- Mixed age classes based on skill and interest
- Uninterrupted work cycles to promote deep focus and agency
- Developmentally appropriate work and materials that expand beyond the classroom and into the real world"
Main Classroom Area
Small Group Lessons
How people from the school’s community see Academy of Thought and Industry Toronto
Top-down influence on the school’s direction and tone
Laura Mazer, Dr.
Welcome to the Academy of Thought and Industry: we’re so glad you’re here! ATI is education not as it has been, but as it can be: something designed specifically for adolescents, something designed for life. Adolescence is a period of intense physical and emotional growth. You are transitioning from childhood to adulthood—from depending on your parents, family, and teachers to a space where you decide your own path. What an exciting journey, occasionally overwhelming, potentially fraught, inevitably profound. No matter where you spend these years, you emerge on the other side having changed dramatically. In many ways, traditional schools are at odds with the needs of this period of change: you’re forced to conform to a system that has at its core not your needs as a growing, changing, striving, individual— but the needs of the system itself. Progressive schools often allow you free rein to choose your own pursuits, skipping from project to project, but without that deep attention to knowledge that would fully unlock your mind’s potential. The alternatives are: rigid structure where knowledge is abstracted from application, or free structure where applications are abstracted from knowledge.
The Academy of Thought and Industry is the third option. Here, we pursue the union of thought and industry, of the mind and the hand. Our students don’t just memorize— they understand, by integrating and applying at every step.
At ATI, there is no conflict between the intellectual and the practical. Our students take film-making classes to actually make movies. They take economics courses because they are starting their own businesses—or more abstract economics because they want to understand the theories that make up the society in which they participate. One of our middle school classes in New York is running a thriving compost business; a high school student in Texas has a professional photography studio with international clients.
You might be asking: Who are these incredible teenagers?
In some ways, our students are extraordinary. In other ways, they are the most natural and healthy people of all: they are unusual only in that they are actualizing the potential that is perfectly, universally ordinary. At ATI, you get to explore this period of transition into adulthood with graduated agency: each step you take here will open up greater choices, greater possibilities, and greater independence. But you will always have behind you the support and care of your coach, your guides, and your ATI community. Here, you can fully explore your own rapidly expanding self.
We can’t wait to meet you.
If you’re considering a small school for your extroverted child, make sure it offers plenty of social opportunities, including the ability to seek out and interact with different peer groups. Since smaller schools have smaller and less diverse student populations than big schools, it can sometimes be more challenging for your child to find a like-minded group of friends—friends with similar interests, values, etc.
“It’s important to look at the social makeup of the school,” says Ruth Rumack of Ruth Rumack's Learning Space. "Is there enough variety that your child will have a group that they feel connected with? Because you want to have friends that are like-minded and you want to be in a social situation where you feel honoured and respected. Variety can also be found in extracurriculars, leadership programs, and sports activities, which tend to have kids with a wide range of personalities.”
Also, make sure a school’s teaching and learning approach is suitable for your social child. “For instance, a school focusing on individual learning instead of group learning may not play into your child’s strengths,” say Ann and Karen Wolff, Toronto-based education consultants at Wolff Educational Services. “You want to make sure the social, emotional, and academic realities of the classroom are a match for your child’s personality.”
Smaller schools often have small classrooms and tight-knit communities, which can make it easier for your introverted child to come out of their shell, make friends, and feel like they belong. Since they’re less socially overwhelming, your child should find it easier to navigate their social environment. And since they’re conducive to group work, small classes often have plenty of interaction, which can help your child develop critical interpersonal skills.
Of course, small schools normally have a less diverse student population than big schools, which can sometimes make it more challenging to find a group of like-minded peers—peers with similar personalities, interests, values, etc. This makes it especially important to ask a school about its extracurricular programs, which can help your introverted child establish an intimate social circle.
THE OUR KIDS REPORT: Academy of Thought and Industry Toronto
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