Athlos Academy of Jefferson Parish Celebrates Grand Opening

Athlos Academies was pleased to celebrate the grand opening of our newest school, Athlos Academy of Jefferson Parish in Terrytown, Louisiana.

With more than 1,000 attendees at the grand opening and ribbon cutting event, Athlos welcomed future students and their families, teachers, staff, community members, and local dignitaries.

“A strong charter school can enrich the educational landscape of a community. I saw the need in our community and knew Athlos Academy of Jefferson Parish would rise up to meet this need and provide our children with opportunities to achieve and grow in so many ways,” said Athlos Academy of Jefferson Parish board chair Ben Bourgeois. “This school was created to prepare tomorrow’s leaders and to create an environment that supports success.”

Following the program, a ribbon-cutting ceremony took place on the turf. Athlos students were able to participate in the cutting ceremony, while Bourgeois made the ceremonial cut. We are very excited to see this school become a reality and are looking forward to its bright future.

Athlos Distinguished Educators

Athlos Academies has recognized three Distinguished Athlos Educators from partner schools nationwide. The Distinguished Athlos Educators award is given annually to three individuals who exemplify quality performance in the Athlos program.

This year’s awardees were Belinda Bergren and Aaron Schwenzfeier from Athlos Academy of St. Cloud and Barbara Merrell from Athlos Academy of Utah. Award winners demonstrate excellence in their classroom, on the turf, or within their community. Each of this year’s three recipients models a commitment to and understanding of the Athlos Pillars of Performance and contributes to the success of staff and students.

Belinda Bergren

Bergren has been a language educator at the K-12 level for more than eight years. Bergren’s background in business management brings skills to her teaching and administrative duties that greatly benefit the newly developed Athlos Academy of St. Cloud English language learners (ELL) program.

Her management skills help to maximize very complex scheduling for an ELL student population of more than 25 percent of the overall student population. With the diverse needs of this population, Bergren has taken on an extraordinary challenge and has shown that employing grit and optimism brings positive outcomes.

Aaron Schwenzfeier

Schwenzfeier earned his bachelor’s degree in physical education and master’s degree in kinesiology from the University of North Dakota. Schwenzfeier has worked as a high school football and head strength and conditioning coach, owned a personal training business, taught at a community college in a health and fitness program, and served as the associate director of strength and conditioning at the University of North Dakota.

At Athlos Academy of St. Cloud, Schwenzfeier consistently exemplifies all three of the Athlos pillars. He constantly researches best practices when it comes to health, fitness, and lifestyle and shares this knowledge with the school community.

Barbara Merrell

Merrell has been a classroom teacher for the past 17 years. She received her bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah and completed her master’s degree in both library science and school librarianship from the University of North Texas in Denton. Creativity is a word that best describes her style of teaching.

She loves making learning fun by using art and science to enhance all areas of the curriculum. Merrell understanding the importance of movement and use creativity to blend movement breaks into all aspects of her students’ days.



Congratulations to Lynette Gittins, a second-grade teacher at Athlos Academy of Utah, for receiving a Teacher Feature special recognition award from KSL NewsRadio and Zion’s Bank!

Upstander Day Bullying Prevention

Students and staff at Athlos Academy of St. Cloud recently took a stand for kindness by observing Upstander Day as part of National Bullying Prevention Month. An upstander is someone who sees or hears about someone being unkind, speaks up, and stands up for what is right.

The school was visited by Minnesota Vikings football players, cheerleaders, and mascot Viktor who taught students how to prevent bullying.

Read the full story

Student-led Conferences

At Athlos schools, student-led conferences take the place of traditional parent-teacher conferences. These conferences help students take ownership of their learning as they honestly reflect on their progress, discuss their successes and challenges, and set goals for the future.

Preliminary data shows that approximately 80% of parents at Athlos Academy of Utah attended student-led conferences this semester thanks to efforts by teachers to make personal phone calls encouraging parents to sign up. Teachers found that having students rehearse beforehand and take time to reflect on their work and goals was imperative, and when they did they felt empowered and confident afterward.

The Great Fall Fill-Up Donation Drive

Athlos Academy of St. Cloud collected donations and delivered them to Anna Marie’s Alliance – a women’s and children’s shelter in the area. The school community and outside community members donated items. As part of the Athlos model, it’s important for schools to give back to the community and exhibit Performance Character traits like humility, integrity, and social intelligence.

Watch the video coverage by St. Cloud State University

Darin Knicely

Staff Spotlight, Darin Knicely

We are excited to announce Darin Knicely as our new chief academic officer. Knicely received his degrees in education from Longwood University and Old Dominion University. With more than 10 years of teaching experience, Knicely has operated as a school leader for a wide variety of schools working in both small and large student populations.

Knicely comes to us most recently from Virginia and is now based out of the Texas office. He is married with two young children.

Athlos Academies Offers Professional Development to School Staff

Over the summer we held our annual Summer Institute. This year we hosted more than 50 school leaders, teachers, and staff from partner schools, including our newest school in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana. Participants spent the four-day conference gaining insights into the implementation of the innovative Athlos approach.

In addition to networking with experts in the field, participants learned strategies to support quality teaching and heard from our special guest speaker, Justin Osmond, who reflected on lessons he’s learned in developing Performance Character while overcoming many setbacks he experienced due to being born deaf.

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