Our Story

Meet The Athlos Founders

The idea behind Athlos Academies began after co-founders Ryan Van Alfen and Jason Kotter became impressed by the idea of parental choice in education and recognized other needs within the education system, including developing the whole child beyond academics alone.  To succeed in life, students need more than just book smarts, and Van Alfen and Kotter wanted to make a social impact.


“In an era of emphasis on common standards and standardized testing, core subject areas can become the sole focus of a child’s daily instruction. However, students also need instruction in social-emotional learning. Are these things typically measured on a standardized test? No, but like academic knowledge they are critical to a child’s future success and should not be overlooked.”

Entrepreneurs in their own right, the two founders always chalked up their success to life lessons: integrity, hard work, service, and healthy choices.  In examining their own childhood experiences, they realized many of the most influential lessons they learned were not taught in a typical classroom lesson. Often, they were experiences in an extracurricular or sports setting that required development of leadership skills, grit, or social intelligence. They were fortunate enough to have families and coaches that helped them see the relevancy in these experiences and develop their character. However, Performance Character traits are not always taught in the home and very rarely in the classroom.


“Children are no longer defined by how they perform in the classroom. It’s how can they perform in life? How are they going to deal with the challenges that life will inevitably throw at them?

~ Ryan Van Alfen

A concept began to take shape. Consulting with education experts, fitness specialists, and social emotional thought leaders, a new school model was born—Athlos.  Athlos, derived from the Greek word for “feat” or “contest,” revived the classical ideal of balance—balance of mind, body, and character.