Our Leadership Team

Darin Knicely
Athlos Academies

Darin Knicely currently serves as superintendent for the Athlos Academies charter school network. He has been a prominent leader in education organizations for 15 years and is known for consistently taking a community-focused approach to leadership. Knicely has an innovative leadership style and vision for education transformation and organizational development.

Knicely earned his master’s degree and educational specialist degree from Old Dominion University and his bachelor’s degree in education with a concentration in special education from Longwood University. Knicely began his career as a teacher and then grew to a lead teacher, assistant principal, principal, chief, and eventually superintendent.

During his tenure as an education leader and executive, he has successfully elevated each of his respective district’s academic profiles realizing tremendous student growth and district-wide gains.

Knicely is licensed as a superintendent, school administrator, and special educator.

Camille Wells
Chief of Operations and Growth
Athlos Academies

Camille Wells serves the communities of the Athlos Academies charter school network as the chief of operations and growth. Wells has been an integral member of the Athlos charter school network since before the initial opening of the network’s first schools in 2016. She is known for promoting education standards and developing strong ties between schools and the surrounding communities.

Wells received her bachelor’s degree in political science and government from Brigham Young University. Since then she has developed a history in supporting and advocating for education in Idaho.

At the Idaho State Department of Education, Wells helped promote an extensive education reform agenda and provided communications and policy support. Her experience also includes state-wide campaign management and program implementation.

Josalyn Filkins
Assistant Superintendent of Instruction, Athlos Academies

Josalyn Filkins serves the communities of the Athlos Academies charter school network as the Assistant Superintendent of Instruction. She is known for her successful gains in school organizational transformation.

Filkins earned her bachelor’s degree in education from the Illinois State University. She has administration leadership cohort and international baccalaureate certifications, as well as several education related trainings. Her volunteer efforts range from Collaborative Solutions for Communities to Ronald MacDonald House.

In her fifteen years of educational experience, Filkins has worked with students and school staff in a variety of settings from leading, supporting, mentoring, and coaching.  Her roles have included head of school, middle school and elementary principal, instructional/management coach, curriculum writer, and lead middle school English teacher.

Her core accomplishments include a strong track record of improved school staff retention and approval ratings, district-wide curriculum performance, and Teacher of the Year Nominee 2006 and 2012.

Celeste Vollmer
School Finance Director
Athlos Academies

Celeste Vollmer serves as the school finance director for Athlos Academies.  She is known for her attention to compliance and detail, as well as data-driven decision making and trend analysis.

Vollmer received her bachelor’s of business administration in financial management from Franklin University.  She also holds a school treasurer license.

Prior to coming to Athlos Academies, Vollmer worked for two different charter school management organizations leading their budgeting, accounts payable, payroll, audits, grant management, and financial reporting.  Most recently she was the fiscal officer overseeing 24 schools.

Kyle Leybas
School Operations Director
Athlos Academies

Kyle Leybas serves as the school operations director for Athlos Academies.  Leybas is uniquely qualified to support schools with his combination of administrator experience in both elementary and high schools, as well as traditional public and charter schools.

Leybas earned a master’s degree in education from Arizona State University, a master’s degree in education leadership from Western Governor’s University, and a bachelor’s degree in Portuguese from Brigham Young University.  Leybas began his career as a teacher then advanced to principalships.  Leybas continues to instruct students online at the university level in personal finance.

Heather Crocker
Student Recruitment and Communications Specialist, Athlos Academies

Heather Crocker serves schools in the Athlos Academies network as the student recruitment and communications specialist. Crocker is a dynamic and innovative communications professional with fifteen years of leadership experience in K-12 education, with more than ten years of digital and social marketing experience.

Crocker earned a bachelor’s degree in arts from The College of Wooster. Prior to coming to Athlos Academies, she was the executive director of an education foundation and subsequently the director of communications for a school district.

Crocker is instrumental in advising leadership on communications strategy, executing campaigns for student enrollment and public finance campaigns, and developing high-impact content and storytelling.

Mandy Kartchner
Executive Director
Athlos Academy of Utah

Mandy Kartchner is the executive director of Athlos Academy of Utah in Herriman, Utah. She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Westminster College, her K-12 special education certificate from Utah State University, and her master’s degree in educational leadership from Western Governors University.

With two decades of teaching and leadership experience, Kartchner has worked as a teacher, director, and then as an assistant head of school. During this time, she has also worked with community leadership supporting special education and general education needs.

Kartchner has a long history of working with special education students and supporting special education programs for schools and communities. She has also taught special education at Connections Academy in Bountiful and West Hills Middle School in West Jordan.

Dr. Jordan Sanchez
Principal of Upper School
Athlos Academy of Jefferson Parish

Dr. Sanchez earned his bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Xavier University of Louisiana in 2008.  After years of working in the private sector and seeing the effect ineffective public education had on the youth in his community, he shifted his focus to improving the landscape of education across the Greater New Orleans Area.  He dedicated himself to education, earning Master degrees in Teaching as well as Curriculum and Instruction on his way to earning a Doctorate in Education in 2018.

Dr. Sanchez has earned international recognition while serving as the President of Xavier’s Chapter of Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society. His leadership led a team that was recognized for their efforts in improving literacy and fostering relationships in the Gert Town neighborhood of Uptown New Orleans. Prior to joining the team at Athlos, Dr. Sanchez worked as the lead site instructor with the Special School District as well as serving on the Superintendent’s Special Education Advisory Panel.

Dr. Sanchez feels that his best quality as a teacher and school administrator is his leadership. “I do not believe there are ineffective teams, only ineffective leaders. I believe in holding myself accountable and that spirit of accountability reaches every member of the team, fostering a culture of ownership that eliminates a victim mindset and creates a winning team. I am here at Athlos to win, and that means driving our scholars to believe in themselves and not make excuses, only improvements.”

Cheryl Martin
Principal of Lower School
Athlos Academy of Jefferson Parish

Cheryl L. Martin has been an educator for more than 20 years. Her experience includes classroom teacher, National Institute of Excellence in Teaching (NIET) TAP Mentor, and Master teacher, Academic Dean, and Assistant Director of Assessment and Instruction. Most recently Mrs. Martin has served as Director of Lower School for Athlos Academy of Jefferson Parish.

Mrs. Martin’s educational journey began when a friend convinced her to enroll in an Introduction to Education course at Southern University at New Orleans. Once enrolled in the course she knew her calling was to impact the lives of disadvantaged youth by providing them with the “great equalizer”; a great education. This commitment to education later led to the completion of a Reading Specialist certification, a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction, and a second Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership.

In her effort to ensure every student demonstrated success, Mrs. Martin designed a school-wide intervention plan for McDonough 26 Elementary which helped the school achieve “Exemplary Growth” recognition for the 2011-2012 School year.

Mrs. Martin believes every child deserves the best education possible and the best education begins with well-qualified and well-trained teachers. This conviction motivates her to find innovative ways to support teachers and students each day.

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