EducationPrivate SchoolsSpecialty Schools

New Programs and Initiatives Set Atlanta’s Private Schools Apart

For students, a new city means a new school and new opportunities. Parents seeking an educational experience that reaches outside the traditional school setting have no lack of options in metro Atlanta, where students can excel in an environment tailored to their needs and dedicated to their success. Below, learn more about why the city’s independent schools remain a step above the rest.

Atlanta Girls’ School

Founded in 2000, Atlanta Girls’ School offers girls in grades six through 12 a college-preparatory curriculum of the highest standards. Graduates attend Ivy League schools, prestigious liberal arts colleges, leading Southeastern universities and respected research institutes. AGS was custom-built for one purpose: girls’ achievement and success. They strive to provide a challenging college preparatory program in a learning environment designed to foster the full potential of each student and enable her to become a vital contributor to our complex global society. Girls attending AGS learn to take appropriate risks, be courageous leaders, give back to their communities and project personal confidence and competence in all they do.

The school’s curriculum and culture emerge from a distinct vision of what girls must learn to become thoughtful and capable leaders. Students have unprecedented access to real-world experiences and complete two customized internships with local, national or international organizations. The internships fuel a robust opportunity of extracurricular learning that culminates in each student’s capstone project and senior speech to the entire school.

Atlanta International School

Celebrating its 30th anniversary school year, Atlanta International School offers all three International Baccalaureate (IB) programs to more than 1,160 U.S. and international students from 3-year-old kindergarten to 12 grade. Rigorous academics are enriched by a world–class language acquisition program, which begins with a full immersion preschool program in Spanish, French and German. The school offers STEM- and STEAM-endorsed and bilingual diplomas in addition to the prestigious IB diploma. Beyond the classroom, AIS students participate in award-winning performing and fine arts opportunities, competitive athletics and global experiential learning. The AIS community comprises over 90 nationalities. AIS is accredited by SAIS and the Council of International Schools.

Atlanta Speech School

The Atlanta Speech School is the nation’s most comprehensive center for language and literacy with four schools, five clinics and a professional development program. While each of the four schools serves different types of learners, each program gives students the strongest possible foundation for learning through language and literacy. Teachers customize the latest cutting-edge research to the needs of each child. The Kenan Preschool develops engaged learners who are exceptionally prepared for school. The Wardlaw School is an elementary school for children with dyslexia and other language-based learning disabilities. Stepping Stones is a preschool and transitional kindergarten for children with speech and/or language delays. The Katherine Hamm Center is a listening, spoken language and literacy program for children birth to 6 years old who are deaf or hard of hearing and their families.

The Bedford School

The Bedford School, founded by Dr. Betsy Box in 1985, began with 36 students at Southwest Christian Church in East Point. In 2001, the school moved to its own 45-acre facility in Fairburn. The original goal remains the same: to maximize the potential of students with learning differences and develop foundations for success. The school serves students in first through ninth grades who have been professionally identified as having specific learning differences such as dyslexia, Central Auditory Processing, Attention Deficit Disorder and related neurological conditions. The goal is to maximize each student’s potential and most Bedford students are able to transition into traditional high school settings.

Math and language arts are taught twice a day with a specialized Orton-Gillingham-based reading program, in addition to a strong academic program, ability groupings, soccer, basketball, volleyball and track. The summer program, Squirrel Hollow, is open to children who need an academic boost in the summer and is not limited to Bedford students. Families of Bedford students come from more than 12 counties, proving the school is an effective choice for those seeking to address their children’s special needs.

The Cottage School

Founded in Roswell in 1985, The Cottage School is a private, nonprofit education center that celebrates more than 30 years of serving 6-12 grade students with mild to moderate learning differences, including Attention Deficit Disorder. In August 2016, for the first time, The Cottage School will be adding fourth and fifth grades. Often students come to TCS when mainstream education is no longer an option. Their learning differences can cause them to withdraw and often times give up. The school, while offering the core academic curriculum that meets Georgia’s graduation standards, offers something that has become priceless for parents — seeing their child thrive in an environment where they are accepted and their challenges are understood. With that comes confidence, allowing students to reach one of the school’s key goals: independence.

In June 2014, the Masters in Special Education Resource Guide named The Cottage School as one of their Top 50 Best Private Special Needs Schools in the United States. “We are continuing to grow our programs to include arts, technology and career opportunities that will help every student who needs workforce readiness with or without college,” says Head Master Steven Palmer.

The school’s unique teaching model allows students to learn on their individual levels and at their own pace. Students learn acceptance and independence through low student to teacher ratios, service and sports clubs, technical training and post-secondary education planning. The business model the students learn gives them the soft skills of accountability they would use in a business environment and life in general.

Cumberland Academy

Cumberland Academy is an independent, nonprofit school that specializes in the needs of children with high functioning Autism, Asperger’s, ADD, ADHD and other learning differences in grades 4-12 and post graduate. Accredited by SACS-CASI and GAC, all Cumberland teachers are special education credentialed, and several teachers have advanced degrees and training. All classes follow the Core Curriculum/Georgia Performance Standards with a low student to teacher ratio.

Cumberland also offers a dual enrollment program with Georgia Perimeter College as well as post-graduate studies. Most Cumberland students learn academics at grade level or above and social skills and life skills are an integral part of the curriculum. Cumberland is SB10 and GOAL approved.

The mission of the academy is to provide a safe, supportive, educational environment in partnership with faculty, staff, students and parents. The Cumberland family embraces the uniqueness of every child by challenging and inspiring them to reach their full potential. The academic and social curriculum encourages the development of life skills essential in becoming self-sufficient adults and promotes helping students develop strategies to cope with anger, stress and anxiety along with motivating them to assert themselves in a positive way while respecting others. The curriculum is designed to respect the learning diversity of each student through cooperative learning and active, hands-on techniques that are integrated into all subject areas along with co-curricular activities. This best practices curriculum infuses the creative arts as well as problem solving, social skills, critical thinking and decision making skills.

High Meadows School

High Meadows School focuses on the development of the whole child and recognizes the need to make time during each school day for intellectual challenge, movement, creativity and fresh air. Established in 1973 and located on more than 40 wooded acres in Roswell, High Meadows is an independent IB school providing a progressive education for students from age three through eighth grade.

The inquiry-based learning approach and small class sizes encourage children to ask questions, explore what matters to them, and discover the wonders of life for themselves. As a direct result, High Meadows kids are recognized as confident, creative problem solvers; accomplished speakers; experienced team players; critical thinkers; and self-advocates who connect with adults and peers alike. As an intensely academic preparatory school, we see nearly all our graduates admitted to the high school of their choice, many following honors or AP tracks.

High Meadows comprises a community of advocates who maintain a lifelong wellness mindset. The focus on wellness is part of a proactive movement toward a whole and balanced life, and High Meadows launched a comprehensive program dedicated to healthy practices for students, faculty and parents. New offerings and school-wide initiatives center on the areas of physical education, social-emotional learning, nutrition and health. Specific programs include in-class and after-school yoga classes, a food co-op from Fresh Harvest for HMS families, practicing the principles of mindfulness and positive discipline daily with students, and nutrition education that is imbedded in the curriculum through classroom cooking experiences and growing food in the school’s gardens.

Mill Springs Academy

Accredited by SAIS and SACS, Mill Springs is an independent school community dedicated to the academic, physical, and social growth of those students who have not realized their full potential in the traditional school setting. Since 1981, Mill Springs has been supporting student learning by raising expectations and developing self motivation, while providing skills and values for life. The school is a nonprofit governed by a board of trustees.

Mill Springs offers a broad range of college preparatory options, along with fine arts and competitive athletics. Small classes and an individualized curriculum help to capitalize on strengths while learning compensatory strategies. An extended day program is also available. The 85-acre campus is nestled in the beautiful rolling hills and pasture land of Alpharetta. Mill Springs also participates in the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship/SB10 program.


At Springmont, lessons are experienced, not just taught. Springmont’s progressive approach balances individualized learning with challenge and expectation. Our engaging environment equips students with the communication, collaboration and leadership skills needed to be effective in the future. Located on a park-like campus in Sandy Springs, Springmont has used the Montessori approach for more than 50 years. Springmont guides students in developing intellectual skills while helping children make discoveries and find their place in the world. As a result, graduates matriculate to their choice of Atlanta’s private and public schools. Springmont also offers the new Plus program for students challenged by Dyslexia or ADD/ADHD who need supplemental instruction integrated with the Montessori classroom experience. Springmont is the oldest Montessori school in the Southeast and the curriculum is accredited by SAIS and SACS, is recognized by Association Montessori International and serves children from 18 months to 14.

The SAE School

The SAE School’s unique project-based learning curriculum nurtures the individual journey of pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students as they discover the joys and magic of innovation and entrepreneurship. Classroom inquiry that’s pragmatic and focused drives students to use knowledge creatively — to engage the world, make connections and build a better tomorrow for themselves and society. The Orton-Gillingham-informed core allows students to experience language in a multi-sensory way. Pragmatic Spanish integration helps them discover their international voice. Electives like Music Science shed light on the physics of sound. But the learning doesn’t end in the classroom: student projects put knowledge to work! From designing apps and video games to modeling how power works in self-governance, students from The SAE School don’t wait until graduation to tackle the world’s problems — they learn from the past and drive the opportunities of the future, believing in the power of now.