What is the ATLAS Academy?


    ATLAS Academy is a school of choice that addresses student interest in the humanities, sciences and technology as the foundation for advanced learning, Pre Advanced Placement (Pre AP), in all content areas. Students who attend ATLAS in grades six to eight work closely with multi-talented, creative teachers who guide students in developing deep understanding of subject matter through direct instruction, problem-based learning, collaborative explora­tion, and discovery.

    Instruction is research-based and interdisciplinary with a strong emphasis on technology across curriculum. Thematic Units focused on 21st century skills integrate with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). Emphasis for all students is on applied learning experiences that help them function with increasing competency as research­ers, creators, problem solvers, and practitioners. Problem-based study using a combination of group activities and independent work allows students to pursue their individual inter­ests in depth.

    It is a goal of ATLAS to instill in young people lifelong intellectual curiosity and commit­ment to learning based on students’ strengths and interests. With a dual emphasis on rigorous aca­demic standards and creative productivity the ATLAS Academy creates a dynamic learning environment that inspires authentic learning, motivation, and innovation.

    Students who are curious and who learn best in a creative educational setting will comprise the student body at ATLAS. Intrinsic motivation, resourcefulness, and a problem-solving disposition are characteris­tics that ATLAS students must possess. From revision of writing to completion of science experiments and creation of exhibits, students will learn from mistakes and overcome obstacles in order to be successful learners. ATLAS provides an environment conducive to the development of problem-solving skills while nurturing students’ motivation, resourcefulness, teamwork and organization. Daily “hands-on, minds-on” learning allows students to work through the intellectual disso­nance they experience when presented with new information and skills. Students ask questions, conduct research, and consult with experts in order to make uncertainties more certain.

    Through authentic, intellectual work, students grapple with important concepts that are important to them. They are engaged in sustained inquiry as they work with one another, with teachers and other adults. The Exhibition of Inspired Learning* is the heart of ATLAS because one outcome of integrated curriculum, such as creativity and technology, is spotlighted in their products.

    The Exhibition of Inspired Learning offers students opportunities to research and create quality projects in art, science, math­ematics, social studies and language arts.

    Upon completion of an exhibit, students serve as docents in service to the entire com­munity, sharing their findings with others. In this way, student learning expands beyond the classroom, leading to real-world applications and connections.


    ATLAS, Advanced Talent Learning and Serving, Middle School Academy offers gifted and advanced learners a 21st Century curriculum that meets their learning nature and needs.  This academy will serve as a Research and Development campus that implements and evaluates best practices that may be used in other middle school campuses in WISD

    Mission Statement

    Waco ATLAS will develop the talents of gifted and advanced learners through differentiated, integrated, and accelerated (Pre-Advanced Placement) curriculum.  We will advance students’ problem-solving abilities, critical and creative thinking skills, and leadership experiences. Innovation, service, and inquiry will exemplify student output. The curriculum will offer authentic intellectual work through inquiry-based learning in order to meet students’ learning needs and interests.  Students will demonstrate their learning through a variety of venues, including Exhibition of Inspired Learning.* 

    Instruction will emphasize twenty-first century skills of

    • digital age literacy,
    • inventive thinking,
    • intellectual capital,
    • interactive communication,
    • quality for state-of-the-art results

    in a creative educational setting that offers opportunities to develop students’ intrinsic motivation and sustained inquiry.


    Students will be motivated through the opportunity to

    • demonstrate self-knowledge with respect to their interests, strengths, identities, and needs in socio-emotional development and in intellectual, academic, creative, and leadership domains,
    • develop competence with interpersonal and technical communication skills,
    • demonstrate personal and social responsibility and leadership skills,
    • demonstrate growth with their aptitude and interests, including acceleration and enrichment,
    • become independent investigators and lifelong learners, and
    • identify future career goals and the talent development pathways to reach those goals through rigorous academic standards.


    *The Exhibition of Inspired Learning will be an annual event in which students present the culmination of their year’s learning through innovative and creative products and/or performances