1. Where are you from and where do you live now?
I grew up in Dunkirk, NY, a small town on Lake Erie. It’s pretty close to Canada, so I had the fortune of growing up with Tim Horton’s, the superior coffee spot.
2. What’s your favorite game besides chess?
Chess holds a special place in my heart, obviously. I remember pestering my mother on the daily, trying to get her to play a quick game with me. But I am a gamer through and through: board games, video games, role-playing games. I would say my favorite game is a toss up between Pokémon and Dungeons & Dragons. Pokémon is astounding because it’s even more popular now than it used to be. I even give out Pokémon cards to my students as prizes! D&D is the ultimate game for any theatre nerd who has a competitive spirit. Being able to act out stories with your friends about fighting the forces of evil is the purest kind of wish fulfillment.
3. Can you recall a particularly special or impressive moment from an online lesson?
While some probably see online lessons as an obstacle to be overcome, I see it for what it is: a whole new medium to connect with kids. This new generation is so comfortable on the internet that there is a level of confidence that I only see online. My favorite memory is actually of my first student ever. We were in-person to start, and he could not help but throw the chess pieces every time we played. Then we moved to online lessons, and to my surprise, he had been absorbing every lesson I was giving him. With his ease online, he played at a whole new level that I would never have seen in person.
4. What’s your favorite story from the Chess at Three curriculum?
My absolute favorite story to tell my kids is the story about King Richard. I love teaching strategy and the moves that win a chess game, but at its core the King Richard story teaches us something way more important: how to lose! Every time we get to this story my kids are just getting a handle on the game, and realizing they have so much more to learn. It can be so frustrating! But by meeting this strange man from a faraway land who terrorizes everyone because he can’t stand losing, kids see the game for what it is, a great way to connect with people and make friends.
5. You’re an amazing, in-demand tutor. What’s your secret?
Truly, the kids make it easy. Being able to give my students what I so desperately wanted as a kid, someone to play chess with, is such a privilege. But I think besides making sure we’re always having fun, I meet everyone where they are. Whether it’s with an extra story, an extra game of chess, or maybe giving them the chance to tell me about their day in a silly way, I try to always come in with whatever my students need that day. Especially since they’re giving me what I need, a friend to play chess with!