One of Athlos Academies’ first employees, Director of Healthy Body Chandler Herdt will celebrate his fifth work anniversary with Athos in July. Herdt has worked extensively with the Healthy Body pillar since the program piloted in 2011, adding his own expertise and passion for health education into the innovative Athlos three-pillar approach to education.
“I am proud to see the Athlos three-pillar model resonate with families all across the country, and more specifically, the change we are seeing in the lives of our students in regards to their confidence to pursue athletic activity,” Herdt said.
Prior to working with Athlos, Herdt played baseball at Colorado Mesa University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and was on the sports performance staff at Chandler Gilbert Community College. Additionally, Herdt earned his master’s in kinesiology with a specialization in sport conditioning.
“At Athlos, I saw the opportunity to make a larger impact on the health, wellness, and pursuit of athleticism for a much larger population of students,” Herdt said.
As the director of the Healthy Body pillar, Herdt oversees the implementation of the pillar at each Athlos campus. This includes training and supporting school staff to ensure they are fully able to deliver the program, as well as working to continuously improve the pillar to provide students with the best experience possible.
From curriculum design, athletic space design, coaching recruitment, professional development, strategic planning, presenting to various stakeholders, and more, the work Herdt does is multi-faceted and ever changing.
“This position requires you to refine a skill set of a Swiss army knife,” Herdt said. “Not many days are alike, which I truly enjoy.”
Multiple studies have found a correlation between physical activity and learning. The routine integration of physical activity alters students’ brain chemistry and increases their likelihood of success. Herdt strives to create and implement an athletic curriculum that supports their educational attainment.
“We also have to address the societal problems at hand of sedentary lifestyles leading to an epidemic of obesity,” Herdt said. “It’s time the school day supports the development of the whole child — mind, body, and performance character.”
The Athlos athletic curriculum teaches a mindset that health and wellness is a top priority by incorporating physical wellness into the structure of the school day.
“No longer do physical activity and health education get the left overs,” Herdt said. “I believe this helps draw a parallel to our student’s lives in that their own health and wellness should be priority long after they’ve left an Athlos campus.”
The athletic curriculum at Athlos works hand-in-hand with the other two pillars —Prepared Mind and Performance Character. Coaches are trained to identify teachable moments and are encouraged to incorporate all 12 Performance Character traits into their lessons.
“Coaches call upon the 12 traits to guide students to understand how each one of the traits can be developed — just like their speed, agility, or strength,” Herdt said.
The turf serves as a modality for learning. Just like a white board in a classroom, it is a tool to reach students.
“The turf is central in our school’s footprint for a reason,” Chandler said. “If executed properly, this should be the pinnacle of pillar integration.”
Herdt firmly believes the athletic space is a place where students can fully integrate all elements of the Athlos approach to education and can see the excitement in parents and students when they first encounter the unique space.
“I recall a time at an Athlos school right before school started where a group of parents saw the athletic space for the first time. They were blown away by the space and so ecstatic that this was a place where their child would be attending school every day,” Herdt said. “To see them truly appreciate the innovativeness of the space and the school model was super rewarding.”
Most rewarding for Herdt is witnessing the change the Athlos model is affecting in students and the impact it’s having, not only in their lives, but also in the lives of their families.
“My personal goal is to continue to refine the Healthy Body pillar and play a small part in bringing it to as many students across the country as we can,” Herdt said.
Long term, Herdt’s aspiration is that Athlos become the premier educational service provider in the United States and sets the example of innovation in education.