This chess teacher did not limit himself to being a school custodian and he made the school shine in chess.
The students at Weatherbee Elementary School in Hampden, Maine, are the new state chess champions. Their school custodian David Bishop was a chess lover as a kid. So, when years later, he was cleaning the Weatherbee chess club, he gravitated towards the game again. "And at the time I didn't really have any thought of how to teach," Bishop told CBS News. "I'd never done that before."
"I didn't really think he had a good background, like for doing it, but he obviously does," one student said. "His name is Mr. Bishop, which is pretty cool," another added.
The students at Weatherbee Elementary School in Hampden, Maine are the new state chess champions, and the only thing more unlikely than their success, is where they found it: in the broom closet. https://t.co/aEqBPPkBTy— CBS News (@CBSNews) April 8, 2023
But now, the chess club is a community of exceptionally focused little minds who play it like a real kingdom is about to fall. Although none of them is a chess master yet, Mr. Bishop has given them the self-belief that they have the potential for it. "What I tell them is, if you love it, you're going to be better than the top player we have," Bishop said. "They say, 'No, that can't be.' I say, 'Yes, if you love it, you'll never give up and you're going to get better and better as the months and years go by."
Many of us make the mistake of limiting our possibilities to a job description. Bishop has a different vision. He shared that when they told him to make the school shine, they didn't just have one way in their minds. "I found my purpose," Bishop said.
Besides, chess opens possibilities for many people, as another chess master has launched "Chess In Slums Africa." "From the onset, I already knew that this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I knew it was only going to be a matter of time—whether it was going to be 10 years, 15 or 20 years, I didn't know when, but I knew it was going to happen eventually," Tunde Onakoya, the chess master told Global Citizen.
My greatest ambition in life is now to build the biggest Chess academy in the world where children from the poorest places and orphans can have a home and get to learn important skills for the future of work— Tunde Onakoya (@Tunde_OD) January 11, 2022
We are going to re-imagine education in a way that includes all of them pic.twitter.com/np7jxjGcwV
"Anytime we start [working] with a child, we see them as pawns on a chessboard. But then, that is not all that there is to them; they have the power to become much more valuable, and the only difference is access. So we give them that access, we give them information, we give them education, so they can create the future that they want for themselves and become the queen, the most powerful piece on the board."
He added, "We put the children in our academy who cannot afford education in school. We sponsor their education and take a record of their academic performance in school. But children in our academy now understand the value of learning, so more of them stay in school. We have that system that also monitors their progress in school, and in our own program too—how they run through the levels, and how they progress over time. Because we have tests to evaluate their tournament participation and progress based on our curriculum, many children have won tournaments, scholarship opportunities, and more."
These teachers are really changing the lives of their students and they are real-life heroes!