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Chess in Schools Initiative


We have great news to announce: An initial “Chess in Schools” program is now officially underway! The afterschool chess program is happening at Crockett Elementary on Monday and Wednesday 3:15pm-4:15pm. Ben Austin, who most of you already know from the club, is the chess coach on Mondays and I (Jeremy) am the coach on Wednesdays. The registration was already at 20 students with another 4 on the waiting list within 8 hours of the principal sending out a newsletter with the signup form. 

The chess club also had a visit on Wednesday from Ben Ceyanes (“Mr. C”) from Comal ISD. Not only did Mr. C play some pretty solid chess at our club, we also had a pretty good discussion about the chess program in Comal ISD. Mr. C together with Coach Van Hooten (“Coach V”) were integral in starting the chess program in Comal ISD over 9 years ago. I hope to pick Ben’s brain on expanding the program to other schools in San Marcos. The first week at Crockett went great and we believe this is only the start of a robust and beneficial chess program in every school in SMCISD. 


Crockett Elementary in San Marcos TX

We had an initial meeting with the principal of Crockett Elementary School, Analeasa Holmes, that went very well. She was very excited at the prospect of a chess program at Crockett and was eager to let Crockett be a pilot for a chess program. The current plan is to begin as an after-school program on Monday and Wednesday from 3:15pm to 4:15pm. The SMTX Chess Club will be donating all necessary equipment and volunteers from the club.

The eventual goal would be for Crockett to take over the program internally and possibly explore a path to integrating chess into the school curriculum. The hope is that if this “pilot” is successful, other SMCISD schools will want to follow suite and we could get a conversation with the SMCISD.

Chess in Schools

A version “Chess in Schools” in Hays County has been a goal of the SMTX Chess Club since day 1. The SMTX Chess Club is a place for everyone in the community to come together, socialize, and play chess both casually and competitively. Alone, this is an amazing accomplishment and has filled an undeniable need in Hays County…but we also want more. We believe chess can be a major catalyst for change in our community. I guess you could say, we want our cake and to eat it too, or we want our chess and to share it too.

Chess has long been recognized as a game that requires strategic thinking and problem-solving skills. With its growing popularity, more schools around the country are now incorporating chess as a way to enhance students’ critical thinking abilities. In this article, we’ll explore some of the reasons why chess is a valuable tool for education and how it is being implemented in schools around the country and the world.

The Benefits of Chess in Education

Chess is an excellent tool for teaching critical thinking, problem-solving, and strategic planning. These skills are essential in both academic and personal life and are transferable to a wide range of real-life situations. By learning chess, students develop their analytical skills and become better decision-makers. Additionally, chess also improves memory, concentration, and creativity.

Moreover, chess is a great way to foster teamwork, sportsmanship, and a growth mindset. Through scholastic chess teams and competition, students learn they must work together and collaborate to succeed. This helps to build a sense of community and teaches students the importance of fair play and respect for others.

How Chess is Being Implemented in Schools

There are several ways in which schools are incorporating chess into their curriculums. Some schools are introducing chess as a standalone subject, while others are using chess as a tool to teach subjects like math, science, and history. In more cases, schools are using chess as an after-school activity, where students can learn and play the game in a fun and supportive environment.

There are many programs and initiatives aimed at promoting chess in schools. For example, the World Chess Federation (FIDE) has launched a “Chess in Education” program provides training, resources, and support for schools to integrate chess into their curriculums. Additionally, there are organizations like the Chess for Success program, which provides training for teachers, coaches, and volunteers to help introduce chess into schools.

The Impact of Chess in Schools

The implementation of chess in schools has had a positive impact on students in numerous ways. Students who play chess have been found to perform better academically and have improved critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Additionally, chess has also been shown to boost students’ self-esteem and confidence. An ongoing Alabama longitudinal study has found that learning chess had a significant impact on raising math and reading scores as well as major positive social impacts. The study found especially beneficial results for elementary age students and even reported that it helped teachers enjoy their jobs more.

In Conclusion

The data seems to show that chess is a valuable tool for education and has the potential to enhance a wide range of skills. We believe that chess could have a bright future as a tool for education in Hays County and we will continue to work to bring this to fruition. By incorporating chess into their curriculums, Hays County schools will help students develop essential skills that will serve them well in their academic and personal lives.

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