|At Kid Chess®, kids come first.
We are a child centered program with highly qualified and experienced chess coaches. Our unique staffing approach utilizes the talents of both tournament chess players and educators. Each of our coaches pass in-depth background checks and are trained to make chess fun!
Meet the Kid Chess team!
Justin Morrison is the founder and owner of Kid Chess. With over four decades worth of chess playing experience, he started playing in high school. He was the 3-time Georgia High School Champion from 1976 through 1978, High School Champion of Southeastern United States in 1976, and Georgia Junior Champion in 1978. He is a current USCF-rated Expert, a certified USCF tournament director beginning in 1977, and has taught chess since 1976.
Kristi received an Elementary Education Certification from Kennesaw State College after graduating from the University of Georgia with a degree in Psychology. Before teaching for Kid Chess, Kristi taught 1st and 2nd grades for 10 years in Fulton County, Georgia. Kristi first learned how to play chess when she was 8 years old in a chess class taught at her elementary school in Michigan. Kristi loves being a part of the Kid Chess team because it allows her to teach children. Kristi is a co-owner of Kid Chess with her husband, Kid Chess founder Justin Morrison. Kristi and Justin have a son and she has spent the last several years raising him. Kristi enjoys spending time with her family, practicing yoga, exercising, and reading.
Bella has been playing chess for almost thirty years. She was a
seasoned tournament player in Russia, where she aquired a title of Woman Chess
Master's Candidate at age 16. She has two Masters degrees (in Math and
Computer Science), the later one was from University of Maryland Baltimore
County, the winner of six Pan-American Intercollegiate Championship. She's been
a member of UMBC team for three years and won UMBC Championship in 1994-95.
Bella started teaching chess while she was an elementary school student and joined Kid Chess in September, 2005.
Ratana (pictured here on the right riding the leopard) joined the Kid Chess team as Director of Operations in June of 2004. Ratana has been a casual chess player since her college days, and "hopes some of the chess talent currently surrounding her rubs off". She is a graduate of the University of Southwestern Louisiana where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. She has an extensive background in Private Investigations having owned her own business in Louisiana. Ratana met our founder Justin Morrison when she first moved to Georgia in 1995 and has had the pleasure to work with him at various times over the last 19 years. When not engaged in the many facets of managing the Kid Chess operations, Ratana is likely out riding her Harley Davidson (fondly known as "Doux") or enjoying the outdoors camping with family, friends, and her
"four-legged" kids Nick, Chloe, and Chee Chee. (the infamous Chocolate
Chihuahua and his two "feline" sisters)
Jennifer is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the History Program at Florida State University where she taught courses in U.S. History for six years. Her father taught her chess when she was in elementary school and she has enjoyed playing the game casually ever since. Jennifer is excited about combining her passion for teaching and her interest in chess with her love of children whose energy and endless curiosity she finds reinvigorating. When not writing her dissertation or developing her chess skills, Jennifer enjoys spending time with her husband, reading, learning French, cooking, and exploring the world.
Gerald joined Kid Chess in August, 2006. Gerald has been working with children for over 20 years in different capacities such as, Youth Minister, Activities Director, Camp Director, Physical Education Teacher, and Sports Coach. Gerald's motivation is to teach children life skills and values through fun and innovative games. A father of 3 daughters, he encourages all children as if they were his own. Gerald brings an exuberant amount of energy to every class and interacts with the children in a way that they can relate.
"We are to be all things to all people. Whatever the students need at that time, that's what I am trying to be. We are role models, and kids will imitate everything they see and hear from us. We have a responsibility to show love and a positive character at all times. Your character is what you do when no one is watching. Yet someone is always watching."
Clem Wellman started with Kid Chess in 2007 and went to college at Lake Forest College, Lake Forest IL - achieving a B.A. in Business Administration. He began to play chess with his father at age 8, played on his high school chess team, was Lake Forest College champion in the 1960's and began US Chess Federation tournament play in 1963. His rating has always been Class A but his formal play stopped with family and business demands increasing by 1970. After retiring as a Vice-President, Sales for a packaging company, he joined Kid Chess in 2007 to complement his love of teaching his grandchildren to play the royal game. With 3 grandchildren, an 11-year old girl, an 8- and 5-year old boy participating in Kid Chess programs, Clem is overjoyed with his second career as a chess instructor for eager young minds.
John Austin was born in Memphis in 1936 but he grew up in Atlanta. He learned to play chess at the age of twelve. After serving in the Army in Germany, he earned a BBA degree from Georgia State University. He became a CPA. He was president of the Atlanta Chess Club between 1961 and 1964. Under his leadership, the Club affiliated with the USCF. That act ended segregated chess tournaments in Georgia. In 1974, he went to work at what is now Bank of America as their chief internal auditor. He later rose to the presidency of a commercial bank in suburban Philadelphia, a thrift bank in Virginia, and a mortgage bank in North Carolina. In 1993, he suffered a massive heart attack. The doctors gave him six months to live. He decided to devote that time to chess and in 1995 he turned in his best ever tournament result. He finished in a five-way tie for the Georgia State Chess Championship with a performance rating of 2243. Still active in tournament chess, he ranks among the 60 or so highest rated players in Georgia. He likes Baroque music, studying languages, and most of all, sharing his love of chess with children.
Joyce has been with Kid Chess since April 2007 and enjoys working with the kids. She has attended KSU for early childhood education. With 15 years of management experience, Joyce enjoys working with the staff and motivating the team to reach our goals. Joyce is a casual chess player and realizes how chess can teach children the importance of good sportsmanship and achievement. She loves the interaction with children and helping them succeed. In Joyce's spare time, she loves fitness including running 5K's, 10K's and marathons. Also, she loves spending time with her husband, 2 young boys , family and friends.
Mercedes began her love of chess when she was 5. She has many fond memories of her parents playing. This has inspired her to continue playing and to teach her siblings how to play. She received her Bachelor of Business Administration from Georgia State University. She then worked in various customer-service oriented fields for a major bank and as a health care consultant. Her passion has always been helping others, especially children. She is very excited about teaching children to love chess as much as she does. In her spare time she enjoys reading, playing chess, and learning about new cultures. She is currently learning how to speak Hindi/Urdu.
Joey Weigel was taught how to play chess by his father when he was very young. He became greatly absorbed in the game and started reading chess books in an attempt to better himself. Joey attended Justin Morrison's very first chess camp (based out of Justin's home!) and won the outstanding player trophy. Presently, Joey is an active musician and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competitor. He joined Kid Chess in August, 2006.
Joe Hendricks is an avid chess player and enjoys tournament chess. Joe played for the Berkmar Chess Team in high school as a senior, where Berkmar repeated as State Champions and placed 10th in the National High School Team Chess Championship held in Philadelphia. President of the Southern Tech Chess Team, 1980-1982, and competed in the 1980 Pan American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship held in Atlanta, where Southern Tech finished 2nd in their division. Joe graduated from Southern Tech in 1986 with a degree in Electrical Enginering. He enjoys working with kids and helping them be the best they can be. Along with chess, Joe has over 8 years Head coaching youth travel baseball and football.
Ben Vinyard joined Kid Chess in September 2004. Ben's cousin taught him how to play chess when he was a child but he didn't start playing seriously until the age of 29. He attended Southeast Missouri State University and majored in Communications. His occupational experience involves years of film and television employment including a position as the studio producer for the Kansas City Royals and freelance assignments for ESPN, CNN, FOX, ABC, NBC, CBS and Entertainment Tonight. Ben is a certified tournament director and, since his participation with Kid Chess, has had an opportunity to become a more active tournament player, at one point gaining 150 ratings points in the span of a single year. In the Spring of 2006, he coached four Kid Chess teams that qualified for the State Team Championship.
Jared has been playing chess for approximately 45 years. In the 70's he was one of the top players in Georgia and won the State Championship in 1973. Jared is a former President of the Georgia Chess Association, and he has also directed and organized many chess tournaments. Jared is a computer programmer by trade and he created KCEasyChess and the interactive chess puzzles in the "fun house" section of our website.
Fred Judson started working for Kid Chess in 2002.
Fred began playing at chess over 60 years ago in Milford Connecticut. Fred initiated his chess career by reading Capablanca's "A Primer of Chess" and Reuben Fine's "Chess the Easy Way". Fred played regularly against family members and high school classmates until 1953. Later, Fred was recognized as "All Campus Champion" at the University of Connecticut in 1954. He graduated with a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Bridgeport Engineering Institute, now part of Fairfield Univ., in 1963. His accomplishments also includes two time Club "Blitz Champion", holding Grandmaster Pal Benko to a draw in a simul, defeating a Master at the Connecticut Blitz Championship, and sharing 1st place with a blind player at the 1990 Hartford Open. Fred began teaching chess in 1970. Fred is a registered Chess Coach with the United States Chess Federation.
Norman Stokes has been with Kid Chess since 2005. He learned to play chess in the early 60's as an elementary student. He improved throughout high school and played in his first tournament in 1977. Norman has been interpreting for the Deaf for more than 30 years and has taught many Deaf people how to play chess. In 1984, Norman graduated from University of Alabama in Birmingham with a MA degree in Special Education. Norman has taught in Cobb County Schools and used chess as a teaching tool with some of his students.
Kearstyn Denton relocated back to the Atlanta area after being away at college for 3 years. She works in our Kid Chess office and also as a coach at our schools. Currently, Kearstyn is attending Georgia Military College in Fairburn, Georgia with a pre-nursing major with hopes to attend nursing school in Spring 2014 at KSU. Her goals are to become certified in neonatal field of nursing and to travel to Europe. She is very comfortable with children as she has worked with them in the past and also has completed various volunteer work including the Boys and Girls Club. She enjoys reading, spending time with her family and friends as well as training for races.
Lisa was born in Taiwan, moved to the United States and went to high school and college in St. Louis, Missouri. Since 1990 the family moved from Houston, Texas to Marietta, Georgia. She works at Mt. Bethel as the Cafe Manager since Fall 1999. Lisa joined Kid Chess around Fall of 2000 as a parent helper and learned how to play chess with the kids (students) and she also keeps tally records for the coaches.
Kevin began taking lessons with Kid Chess when he was five years old and was his class champion numerous times. He has practiced chess with his brothers, Eric and Kyle, who have also taught for Kid Chess for a combined total of fourteen years. Kevin frequently plays chess against opponents from all over the world via the Internet. When he is not playing chess, Kevin also enjoys Tae Kwon Do and playing the piano.
Tim Chow was born in Taiwan, and Went to high school and college near Philadelhia, PA. He has a a B.S. in math, and has been playing chess since 7th grade. In 1979, Tom became the Delaware State Champion and had a rating of 2025. As well as being a classroom instructor, Tom joined Kid Chess in August, 2007 and works with Coach Keith Kuntz on our series of Kid Chess video lessons.
Jayashree Sekar is from India and moved to U.S. in 1998. She learned chess from her friend and started playing chess since middle school in India and is an active USCF Rated Class B tournament player. Jayashree joined Kid chess in August 2008. She is a USCF Certified Tournament Director and she holds a FIDE Trainers Title as a Developmental Instructor. Jayashree loves to teach and play chess with the kids. Her hobby is cooking, listening to music, and singing. On week ends, she loves to play USCF rated tournaments both in Georgia and out-of-state.
Julia was born in Helena, Montana and at the age of 4 her family and she moved to Utah. She has lived in Georgia for the past 11 years and has worked in banking for 32 years. Julia joined Kid Chess in July, 2008, and graduated from Kennesaw State University in the spring of 2010. Julia enjoys working with children and she is always amazed as to how quickly the kids learn the moves and tactics of Chess. Her hobbies are scuba diving,reading (when she can find the time), and playing Chess and Scrabble. She is happily married to Coach Jared Radin.
Michael Hyde began playing chess in grade school. He went on to become the Chess Club Champion his senior year. Since then Michael has been playing many different strategic and tactical board games including historical military games. After a long absence from chess, he began playing chess again at the local chess club meeting at Borders a few years ago. He enjoys music, reading and spending time with his wife and three children. Michael holds a BS in Education and is a partner in his computer company.
Donna Phillips is a native of Atlanta, Georgia. She enjoys playing chess with friends and family for fun. Donna's professional background has been with IBM in a marketing and sales capacity for most of her career. She also has spent time in construction, insurance, and hardware and software sales. Recently, she provided training for new customers who were installing copiers and printers for the business market. She played a critical role for a sales organization and coordinated efforts among customers, sales reps, and shipping. Many of the customers were schools. Donna is interested in personal development and management training and enjoys Kid Chess because leadership and working well with others attracts her to this environment. She enjoys classical piano, corporate volunteering for community projects, as well as caring for the elderly, and dining with friends and family. She believes in Kid Chess because of the leadership, analytical skills, and friendships that develop as the kids learn to play. Kid Chess is a rewarding program for everyone involved.
Peggy Casstevens was born in Dallas, Texas and was taught how to play chess as an elementary school student by her older brother. After attending the University of North Texas and then getting married, she moved to Georgia in 1991 with her husband. Her main focus after moving to the Atlanta area was on raising her three children as a stay-at-home mom, volunteering as an elementary school tutor, Sunday school teacher and working as a caregiver for the elderly. She taught her three children how to play chess in elementary school, two of which attended Kid Chess in one of the first classes taught in the Atlanta metro area by the founder, Justin Morrison. She loves working with young children while they are learning the game of chess and developing chess skills.
Dan Woodard joined Kid Chess in March 2009 after working as an attorney and IT professional. Dan is currently the president of Quantum Leap Solutions, a management and leadership consulting firm. He also has expertise working with young adults in a mentoring program called Rising Star. Dan learned chess from his grandfather at the age of seven and played chess competitively for the Chess Club in college and high school. He believes that learning chess is one of the best ways to teach young people how to think internally and to plan ahead, both essential skills in today's world. He has a B.S. from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. and a J.D. from Cumberland School of Law in Birmingham, AL.
Jim Lawhon learned chess from his father and cousin while a third grader in the "Fischer boom" of 1972-73. An Eagle Scout and former Scoutmaster, Jim graduated from the University of Georgia with a bachelor degree in Chemistry and a U.S. Army commission. He is an active tournament chess player and won the Atlanta Chess Center Championship in 1996. He has served as a tournament director, as Vice President of the Georgia Chess Association, and as Editor of Georgia Chess magazine in the 1990s. Jim is a real estate property expert with Euharlee Creek Properties LLC and also teaches financial development seminars. In addition to chess, Jim is a student of history and enjoys reading, writing and golf. He is excited to have the opportunity to work with Kid Chess and share his love and knowledge of chess with children.
Will graduated from Auburn University with a degree in Business Administration. He has lived in Midtown the majority of his life, but has also lived and gone to school abroad. Having been taught chess by a relative, he has played since he was very young. He has been a camp counselor and enjoys working with children. Other interests include playing golf and snowboarding. When not working with Kid Chess he facilitates and manages fund-raising projects for public services.
Daniel loves to play chess recreationally and plans to enter some tournaments in the near future. He has over 5 years of teaching experience from kindergarten to 6th grade, specializing in science. He attended Florida Atlantic University and has an undergrad degree in Exercise Science and Health Promotion. In his spare time, he enjoys devoting time to his family, likes writing lyrics for music and also enjoys athletics. Daniel is currently a personal trainer and has performed Cardiac and Pulmonary rehab at Broward General Medical Center. Also, he volunteers for the American Heart Association.
Chase Nixon started playing chess in elementary school. He was taught by his father and learned more about the game by participating in Kid Chess during his fifth grade school year. Chase graduated Kennesaw State University in December 2013 with a BS in Communications: Journalism, a film minor, and a music and entertainment business certificate. Chase has held many different jobs from food to the entertainment industry, which is where he hopes to permanently end up. He has been an active musician for eleven years. Chase has taught music to kids of all ages both privately and at Camp Jam. Chase loves helping kids learn new things and giving them the courage to succeed at what they want in life. Chase is a creative individual who is driven by his passion for music, writing, and filmmaking. He is always working on a project, always learning new material, and always striving to be the best person he can be. As for chess, Chase continues to play and read books hoping to better his game. When he has down time, Chase loves spending it with his family and friends.
Ed is a class A USCF rated player who was introduced at a very early age to the game of chess. His older brother explained how the pieces moved and he won the first game he ever played. He then went on to play his first tournament in Mississippi Junior Championship and won as well. Ed is a retired engineer who is enjoying his grandchildren along with his wife. Ed continues to pursue his love of the game as a Kid Chess instructor having joined the team in January 2009. He now shares his passion for chess with many young students, encouraging them to develop their own skills and grow.
Laura Parker was raised in Scotland and England before moving to the Atlanta area in 1978. She attended Auburn University where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Education and then graduated with her Masters Degree in Education from Kennesaw State University. She taught fourth and fifth grades in the Cobb County School District for 26 years and enjoys continuing to work with children through Kid Chess. Her earliest chess memory is playing with her grandfather and she now enjoys playing with her son. Laura enjoys reading, walking, and camping with her family.
Shea Kaste joined the Kid Chess team in 2010. She has a 4 year old daughter and elementary age son. Her son is excited about playing chess and wants to engage in chess games often. She has taught science to elementary age children for 3 years. She has earned a Bachelor of Science at Kennesaw State University. Shea handles projects well coordinating details by collecting and analyzing data for various reports. She is working in our Kid Chess office and also in the classrooms.
Render Cutts is a native of New Jersey where she attended public schools before entering Seton Hall University. For the past 30 years, she has been involved in chess, volunteering as an instructor at libraries, recreation centers, and schools.
Render’s passion for chess was first instilled by her mother who taught her the game. She continued this tradition with her own children. Volunteering, at the schools her children attended, she had the opportunity to work with gifted children; students with learning disabilities and Special Needs. It was during this time she realized that within the broad scope of learning, children from all backgrounds, could benefit from chess.
Having lived in Atlanta for a number of years, Render returned to New Jersey in 2007 where she renewed her commitment to working with children. In 2009, she obtained her CDA Certification. In 2010, she taught chess for 3 years at a New Jersey counseling center for the treatment of children challenged with anxiety, depression, ADD/ADHD, Aspergers, Bi-Polar, and other emotional and mental disorders.
Render has recently returned to Atlanta and continues to be dedicated to engaging children in activities, like chess, that can raise a child’s expectation of what they can achieve.
John moved to Atlanta from NE Ohio in 2009. He joined Kid Chess in February of 2010. John is an American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Certified Personal Trainer, with a degree in Middle School Education. He has been a head coach in girls' volleyball, and boys' basketball. John loves the safe and stimulating environment Kid Chess creates for kids. In addition, he said, "Chess is the best game there is, for the social and cognitive development of children."
Jordan is a psychology major who has transferred from Georgia Perimeter College to Kennesaw State University in pursuant of his PHD. He wants to become a child psychologist and eventually start a non-profit program for lower income families to help with their education and have a sports introduction into this process as well. Jordan was President of his chess club at GA Perimeter and has also set up tournaments. He plays chess regularly with his friends and local clubs. Jordan is comfortable with children as he has taught his younger sister to play chess and enjoys time with his own young child. In the past, he has also refereed football, worked with high school, middle school and little league kids.
Jim was taught chess by his Father as a young child, and played occasionally with friends. Raised in Washington state, his family moved to California his senior year of high school. He was fortunate to wind up in a school with a chess team which played in a league competition and that had a USCF master playing board one. With the high level of play in school practices and the chess league competition, his play improved substantially. He played in his first rated tournament and won the class C prize. Jim graduated from the United States Military Academy and served in the Army for seven years. Upon leaving the Army he obtained a MBA from the University of Texas and started his business career. He retired from Lockheed Martin after serving as Director of Business Management on the F-22 and C-130 Programs among other assignments. Over the years he continued to play casually, but the demands of work and family ate up most free time. After a long absence from tournament chess, he recently decided to come back to the game he loves. Currently a USCF rated category A player, he has started participating in tournaments again. Jim is pleased to be able to pass on what he knows to the kids in class, and strongly believes that the skills taught in chess transfer directly and positively to those skills the kids will need to be successful in later life. In addition to his chess, Jim supports his wife’s accounting business by doing taxes part time for her clients, and spends a lot of time at the YMCA working out.
Doug is a practicing lawyer originally from Ohio. He is a graduate of both North Carolina Central University School of Law and North Carolina A & T State University where he was a linebacker on the football team. Doug demonstrates his law firm’s mantra of “Where Caring Meets Commitment” in every aspect of his life, especially as a chess instructor. He started playing chess as a teenager and believes it teaches essential life skills - research, imagination, and diligence through trial and error. Kid Chess enables Doug to combine his love of chess with his goal of being a role model and mentor to children.
Bill has been playing chess for over 50 years. Bill learned to play chess in the fourth grade, growing up in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He was very active with the Chess clubs in Junior High and High School. After High School graduation he volunteered for the U.S. Army and was an instructor at the U.S. Army Infantry School in Ft. Benning GA before serving as an infantry squad leader with the First Calvary Division in Vietnam. After three combat decorations and an honorable discharge Bill started at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga campus.
During college he took a part time job teaching Chess at a local community center where he could instill his love of the game to elementary age children. After graduating with a B. S. in Psychology he married his college sweetheart and moved to Dunwoody in 1978. Later that year Bill started a company which provided services to the Theatrical Film distribution industry. In 2006 he sold his business and became more active in the Dunwoody community, where he serves as a Planning Commissioner and sits on other City boards and committees.
Bill loves teaching chess to children and firmly believes that the skills taught in chess contribute to those concentration and analytical skills the kids will need to be successful in school.
Bob is a former Engineer with Masters in Education and Public Administration. He began USCF tournament play in the early 70's and won the Georgia Amateur Chess Championship in 1972. Bob was also President of the Georgia Southern University Chess Club for several years and an A player. Since then he has remained active in the chess community while raising a family and pursuing his career. His favorite hobbies are chess - of course - , tennis, running (he ran his first Peachtree Road Race at the age of 60) and photography. Bob has taught both youth and adults through out the years and he believes that teaching at Kid Chess will provide them an opportunity for continual learning and growth. His hope as a coach at Kid Chess is to instill a
love of learning in his students, as he shares his own passion for learning chess with them.
Emily Francis has been playing chess for over fifteen years and joined Kid Chess in 2009. She started playing chess with her brother, who helped her realize that chess is challenging and fun. Emily took lessons and played in Kid Chess tournaments in her childhood. She loves the competitive nature of chess and spent much of her youth traveling in order to play in tournaments across the country. Emily is a class “A” player and enjoys playing bughouse or “team chess” the most. She attended the University of Georgia where she received a B.A. in history. In her spare time, Emily likes to exercise, play basketball, take walks, and read history books.
Samantha Delia works in our Kid Chess office and also as coach at our schools. Currently, she is attending Kennesaw State University as an Organized Communication major and is expected to graduate in December 2015. She is eagerly learning chess and has a great amount of experience with children. From a young age herself she has babysat and worked as a camp counselor during the summer. During her free time she loves spending time with her large family, specifically her niece and nephews. When she is not working, she is most likely at home studying or working out. A favorite hobby of hers is antique shopping.
David was taught chess by his mother in 5th grade. He attended high school in Sandy Springs, GA, and has moved back to Georgia after living in Oregon for twenty years. He has a Masters of Education and a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature both from the University of Oregon. He taught high school English and math for ten years, and was the chess coach at the high school for eight of those years. He was also the sports announcer for the basketball, football and volleyball teams. In his spare time he enjoys playing guitar and ukulele for his aging parents.
Eugene Motz was born in Arad, Romania in 1957. He immigrated to the United States in 1978. He attended Los Angeles City College and UCLA. He began playing chess when he was 13 and has a USCF rating of 2076.
"I love chess with a passion - whether it's playing in a local club, competing in a major tournament, organizing a local event, or giving lessons to my students, chess is my life."
David is currently attending Kennesaw State University and is a Communications Media Studies major in hopes to become a sports writer/reporter. He is expected to graduate at the end of 2015. David has completed an internship with an elementary school teaching English. He is great with children and enjoys teaching. David's little brother has been in our chess program as well. He started working for Kid Chess because of his experience in the classroom and supervising large groups of kids.
Lia first learned chess in her elementary school gifted program. Since then, she has taken a great liking to the game and enjoys playing leisurely with friends. Secularly, Lia has experience in business management and healthcare. Also, as a lover of math, she enjoyed tutoring high school students in math while attending her early years of university. Lia loves people and volunteers in both a Hindi Bible education work and assists a Drywall building team. Following her passion for assisting people, she is currently attending Georgia State University seeking a degree in Nursing.
Nicole Simmonds is originally from Bronx, New York. She is now a student of Georgia Gwinnett College, majoring in Education. Since the age of 5, Nicole has always had the desire to become a teacher. She has a passionate aspiration to teach mathematics. Nicole developed a love for chess in elementary school where she first learned how to play the game. She enjoys playing chess casually with her friends and family, as well as, solving Sudoku puzzles.
My life looks like a patchwork. Born to a U.S. Foreign Service Officer family, I sampled various cultures from childhood. After nine years living in Madrid, Spain, I completed high school and flew to the U.S. to join my parents in Alexandria, VA. I studied for a while at the Peabody Conservatory in MD, and then enrolled at Georgetown University in DC, and received a B.S. in International Affairs. I lived and worked in Virginia for a number of years until I met my husband David, and together we moved to Georgia for David’s work, and there had our daughter, Raquel. Homemaking and homeschooling kept me busy until Raquel turned fifteen, when I enrolled at Kennesaw State University and there earned a B.A. in English, with a minor in Music, and also an M.A. in Professional Writing.
Chess has intersected my life at various points. I first learned the basics with a boyfriend in Baltimore, MD. We’d spend one fun-filled evening a week at the board. Years later, my ten-year-old daughter learned a few things on her own about the game and insisted that her father play with her. He did, for a while; then she turned to me to play. I hesitated but took the plunge—and good thing I did, because Raquel and I enjoyed many a session on the back porch, at the picnic table, sometimes laughing till the tears came. Years later, recuperating from foot surgery, I played a chess program on my laptop, and enjoyed hours of fun on my own--I even read library books on the game! At KSU I’d ask people to play, but most didn’t know how. Eventually I found two classmates who would meet me once a week to play after classes. We had fun, but that only lasted a few months. Now I’ve found a company to work in that not only promotes chess but introduces and teaches it to youngsters. I’m excited to work with children, teaching them to think and have fun at the same time.
Duvonte is a determined and charismatic person with a diligent work ethic. He has learned two languages and is fluent in Tagalog to English and understands Spanish. Duvonte is very outgoing and can easily get along with people. He is well rounded, multi talented, and cultured. Duvonte is a casual chess player and he looks forward to learning more about chess and working with children. He has attended Georgia Perimeter and Kennesaw State Colleges. Duvonte loves working with children thus making him a perfect fit for a Kid Chess coach!
Renee’ Joyner-Garrett is a native of Queens, New York, moving to Georgia with her family in 1994. While in New York she has acquired a B.S. in Human Service from Metropolitan College of New York formerly known as Audrey Cohen College. Renee’ has earned the standard for achievement of Summa Cum Laude and was listed in the 1993 Honor Society. In 2008, Renee’ completed her graduate studies at Argosy University – Atlanta in Community Counseling. She has worked extensively with children and adults for over sixteen years who were deemed “at-risk.” Her work has involved Program Development, Implementation, and Teaching within non-profit entities such as prisons, homeless shelters, and schools. She is currently employed as a Substitute Teacher within the Fulton County School system in elementary, middle and high schools mostly in classes involving students with behavioral disorders, special education needs, and Early Intervention.
Renee’ was taught to play chess by her husband, and enjoys the game because it teaches the necessary components for life’s skills involving discipline and concentration. She believes that Kid Chess is certainly integrating these components into the lives of these young players. Her hobbies lie within the creative arts inclusive of writing poetry, singing, painting, drawing and teaching.
Dionne received her Undergraduate Degree at Kean University in NJ and her Master’s Degree in Management from Southern Polytechnic University in Marietta GA. After 14 years at AT&T she expanded her horizon in the field of early childhood learning and received her Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential. She became a Director of an Early Learning Center for 6 years. While there, she taught two classes: American Sign Language, where she has been a church interpreter for the Deaf ; and “Confident Kids” a Bible based life skills curriculum created by Linda Sibley offering games, skits and small group discussions to help young children up to age 12 deal with the stresses of living in today's world.
Dionne is also a certified Laughter Yoga Leader - a new health movement in which anyone can learn to laugh for no reason without the use of jokes, humor or comedy. Dionne worked for Georgia Public Broadcasting for six years. She also worked as an after teacher for Primrose Schools in Dunwoody GA.
Understanding that chess improves your cognitive, analytical, abstract and logical thinking, Dionne insisted that her boys learn at an early age but thought it was “too complicated” for her to learn as an adult over age of 30. Since then, she has learned the game of chess and now considers herself as a “casual player” showing that life is for learning. Dionne is proud that she takes the time to give back, by donating to the RED CROSS up to 6 times a year. In her spare time, she plays chess with her husband. Her favorite quote is: If the student hasn't learned, the teacher hasn't taught.
Wendy is originally from New Orleans, Louisiana. She attended Louisiana State University and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education. She taught first grade for twelve years and working with children has always been her passion. She lives in Marietta with her husband and three sons. Wendy enjoys hiking, theater, movies, travel and spending time with her family. She loves teaching chess and seeing her students grow and flourish from all of the wonderful benefits chess provides!
Mike Gordon has played tournament chess for almost 40 years and in more than 30 states. He has achieved USCF expert ratings in both over the board and correspondence play. He also has served as editor of the Georgia Chess Magazine. Mike holds a BS in Economics from the University of Florida and an MBA in Finance from Florida State. He is recently retired from a 32 year career as Logistics Manager at the Atlanta Journal- Constitution and is enjoying teaching and playing chess. Mike likes working with kids and has been a volunteer with Big Brothers of Atlanta.
Rennie has been playing chess for over forty years, starting in high school in Jamaica. At 16, Rennie placed second in the national high school championships and had a FIDE rating of 1683. Since then, he has played in tournaments and simultaneous exhibitions with FIDE Masters. Rennie has a BS degree in Mathematics from St Augustine's College and a MS degree in Management Studies from Carleton University. Rennie enjoys teaching children: he has taught Math to students at all levels and is also a certified tennis and soccer coach.
Jim has been playing chess for over 50 years. He enjoys teaching kids how to play. Teaching chess reminds him of his days coaching his boy’s little league teams. Jim has a B.S. from Purdue University and a MBA from Loyola of Chicago. He is a Chicago native. He worked in Operations Management for Oscar Mayer/Kraft Foods for 25 years. Jim is now retired and enjoys golfing, reading, chess, cooking and working for Kid Chess.
Jordan is a current college student at Kennesaw State on break as he is working two jobs the other being at Publix Supermarkets. Jordan is the son of Tory Page a former trophy coach at Kid Chess. He taught Jordan how to play at an early age. Jordan became an avid player but stopped playing to be more involved in sports and other activities. Now he has became more enthusiastic about chess than ever. He enjoys reading chess books, he plays online, and he plans on entering upcoming tournaments. Jordan has had some experience working with kids. He was one of the counselors for a summer church camp in Forsyth, and he was a coach for a sports camp that was apart of a missions trip in New Orleans. In his spare time Jordan likes watching sports, going to the gym, and staying up to date in politics. He's also ventured in to realm of amateur standup comedy and "No" that is not the punchline.
Bill Noyes has been playing at chess since 1972 and started working with Kid Chess in 1998, when he created the company's first web site. Originally a MVS and OS/390 mainframe systems programmer, Bill designed, implemented, and continues to maintain the KidChess.com website, and brings over two decades worth of professional data processing experience, standards, and procedures to his work at Kid Chess. He is a former newsletter editor and Vice-President of the Georgia Chess Association, as well as former secretary and President of the Decatur Chess club. Bill was webmaster to the Georgia Chess Association's Website GeorgiaChess.org, which under his administration was named Best State Chess Website in 2004, 2005, and 2006 by the Chess Journalists of America. Bill is also a classical pianist, playing the works of composers such as Beethoven, J.S. Bach, Mozart, Chopin, Liszt, Grieg, Brahms, Rachmaninoff, Debussy, and Franck.