Beta Upper School students are thinking deeply as they learn to play the game of Chess.
Mr. Niombi Harris is here from Chess Train for a special week to teach Beta Upper Academy students chess. But it is not just chess he is teaching them. Mr Niombi Harris speaks about the 12 core value words in chess and how these values relate to life. The level of engagement from the students is amazing to see. The students didn't want to leave the class for their snack break or even lunch period. Students come back to play chess after school and even just to talk to Mr. Harris. The energy he showed in each class never wavered! You can feel the love he has for chess and for teaching. Mr. Niombi regards each student as young king and queen and told them that just like those chess pieces, they are powerful and valuable. The way he tied in real life to chess made me introspective too! Watching him in action made me realize he exuded everything that lives in our pillars. He is a living embodiment of Heart, Smart, Think, and Act. It has been such a treat to have him on campus, and to have this opportunity for our students.
- Yochabel Ubiera, Upper School Computer Science Teacher
A recent interview with Mr. Niombi Harris:
Tell me, why is this work important to you? Explain how this is a demonstration of the pillar THINK:
"I would die if I didn't get to teach, although my background is in banking and finance. The difference between teaching adults and children is that when you turn a light bulb in a child, it shines brighter and it's more authentic! It has an impact on me all the time. When you critically think about education, [we ask ourselves] so how do we get students engaged? That is where a game of chess comes in. It’s advanced and complicated! Students are able to think outside the box, build leadership skills, you need to critically THINK to persevere!"
What is the impact of the chess program on our students + community?
"I am infusing confidence in the students: the impact to inspire them to believe in themselves. There is unlimited potential buried in them. My philosophy is that you either volunteer or I will put my hard hat on and dig for it! That’s what our chess program does, we come to get the genius out of every child."
Why is chess important to you?
"Because I am able to teach everything that I ever learned through chess. I haven’t found anything else other than hip hop to be able to do this."
How can the lessons of chess be applied to students everyday lives?
"If they embody our 12 core values, they can apply this to everyday life. I teach them courage, compassion, creativity, humility, leadership, patience, integrity, respect, confidence, courage, discipline, perseverance and vision. I teach them my train of thought. If you play the game of chess, you will learn all of these things. It takes courage to play, every single word I mentioned, you learn that on a chess board."