JCPS chess program aims to help student in and out of the classroom

Some of the nation’s best chess players learned the game as students at Jefferson County Public Schools.It is part of an afterschool program where teachers turned coaches are using the board game to help students in and outside the classroom.National champion chess players who got their start in Ron Hennig’s after school chess club at Valley High School.Hennig said 35 JCPS middle and high schools offer chess programs. “Our middle school programs are really good,” Hennig said. “The coaches are really good at pulling kids in and getting them interested and getting them fascinated with chess.” One of those coaches is Derio Little. He works with a team at Stuart Middle School.He is also the co-founder of Fork Knights Chess Club.”Most kids think that chess is boring or chess is an elitist sport, it’s not fun,” Little said. “If I can get them to sit down and try it, then they realize they like it they don’t realize how much it will help them in the classroom or just in life, period.”Little says chess is more than just a board game. It teaches kids how to solve problem and use critical thinking skills. “You know kids that play chess test better in school. Kids that play chess, their brains work better as they age, and you can get a scholarship for playing chess,” Little said. “We think that we only can get athletic scholarships, but there’s scholarships in chess as well.” Hennig says it is not just about learning to play. They are also trying to build a chess culture, recruiting more diverse students and introducing the game to people who have not played before. “A lot of the tournaments that we have are not just for kids,” Hennig said. “They’re for adults also. So, if you played chess when you were a kid, you play chess now or maybe you’re in college or something like that or you’ve been playing on your phone because Covid hit (everybody is playing chess online), come to a tournament get to know some other people, connect to people make friends and be a part of what’s going on.”The chess programs are for current and former students and community members. If you are interested in joining a team, you can contact JCPS here.

Some of the nation’s best chess players learned the game as students at Jefferson County Public Schools.

It is part of an afterschool program where teachers turned coaches are using the board game to help students in and outside the classroom.

National champion chess players who got their start in Ron Hennig’s after school chess club at Valley High School.

Hennig said 35 JCPS middle and high schools offer chess programs.

“Our middle school programs are really good,” Hennig said. “The coaches are really good at pulling kids in and getting them interested and getting them fascinated with chess.”

One of those coaches is Derio Little. He works with a team at Stuart Middle School.

He is also the co-founder of Fork Knights Chess Club.

“Most kids think that chess is boring or chess is an elitist sport, it’s not fun,” Little said. “If I can get them to sit down and try it, then they realize they like it they don’t realize how much it will help them in the classroom or just in life, period.”

Little says chess is more than just a board game. It teaches kids how to solve problem and use critical thinking skills.

“You know kids that play chess test better in school. Kids that play chess, their brains work better as they age, and you can get a scholarship for playing chess,” Little said. “We think that we only can get athletic scholarships, but there’s scholarships in chess as well.”

Hennig says it’s not just about learning to play. They are also trying to build a chess culture, recruiting more diverse students and introducing the game to people who have not played before.

“A lot of the tournaments that we have are not just for kids,” Hennig said. “They’re for adults also. So, if you played chess when you were a kid, you play chess now or maybe you’re in college or something like that or you’ve been playing on your phone because Covid hit (everybody is playing chess online), come to a tournament get to know some other people, connect to people make friends and be a part of what’s going on.”

The chess programs are for current and former students and community members.

If you are interested in joining a team, you can contact JCPS here.

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