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Feel Good Friday: Making moves across the board

Feel Good Friday: A look at a Toledo couple that created a chess club to teach children how to play.
Published: Apr. 8, 2022 at 5:38 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Nestled in the halls of Jones Leadership Academy of Business is a classroom better known as the “Chess Zone”.

This is where TPS students gather after school, five days per week, to learn how to navigate the game and life. It’s all done under the wise and loving guidance of Yolanda and Warren Woodberry.

“We’re not trying to produce chess champions. We’re trying to get the kids to understand that there’s more to life,” Mrs. Warren explained.

The idea for a chess club was born in 2012, when Mr. Woodberry would visit the Frederick Douglass Community Center, taking along his chess board. Kids would ask him what it was, so he began teaching them how to play.

TPS Superintendent Dr. Romulus Durant then invited the couple to bring their program to the district, and they jumped at the chance.

“The first thing we had to teach them was how to lose because some of the earlier kids we had, they lost, they cried, they wanted to quit. So we had to keep them, and they ended up being champions,” Mr. Woodberry recalls.

The students practice while smooth jazz plays in the background. As the lessons progress, the Woodberrys share lessons on Black History and social etiquette.

“With the snacks, it’s about ladies first, it’s about manners. When they come in, they have to say ‘good afternoon’. If they don’t, they go back out the door and have to come in and say it again,” Yolanda said.

The Woodberrys proudly celebrate their award-winning students; the club currently has about a dozen members from various schools. The walls of the classroom are plastered with accolades about their achievements. The couple says they see the growth in their students daily, and appreciate the opportunity to introduce them to the concepts of commitment and having an open mind.

“Chess will not work in the inner city. that’s what they told us,” Warren said with a smile. “Well, they didn’t know us. They know us now.”

If you’re interested learning more about the Jones Leadership Academy Chess Club, click here.

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