Wizard of the Month Spotlight - February 2023 - Kirby Kemp


Our employee of the month is Kirby Kemp from Chicago, Il. 



Kirby truly cares about the success of Chess Wizards, and goes the extra mile to make his classes fun. Kids love his classes and they keep coming back - and bring their friends, too! He is reliable, always on time, and has brought new schools and quality teachers to teach with us. We are so grateful to have Kirby on the Chess Wizards team!


Kirby, thank you for being such an outstanding employee and teacher!


To show our appreciation for your dedication and hard work – please check your email this week for a special gift from us.



Check out our interview with Kirby below:


1. Who are you, where do you come from, where are you going? 

My name’s Kirby and I’m from Chicago and will likely remain here.


2. How long have you been teaching with Chess Wizards? 

3 years


3. What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned since you started teaching?

To observe the kids’ verbal and non verbal signals and try to adapt a different style to reach everyone.


4. What is the most exciting experience you have had while playing or teaching chess?

One of my first classes was at a school where many kids didn’t have computers at home and didn’t have any family members who play chess. I had to start at the very beginning and at first had trouble getting kids to pay attention. At the end of the 3rd class a nun at the school came in and told everyone to leave. Two girls very curtly said “We’re not done!” From that point on many kids looked forward to chess class!


5.  How do you motivate your students to succeed?

I try to make chess fun and include variation games with teams.


6. What is your most memorable memory from your time as a Chess Wizard?

At the class mentioned above kids would start chanting my name when I’d arrive and get all excited. We had an end of session spring party and the school invited families. Two brothers were so proud to introduce me to their grandma, and one little girl shouted to everyone “I love chess!” 


7.  If you could retire tomorrow and never have to worry about money again, what would you do with your time?

I would miss the kids. Chess class is good for the mind and spirit so there’s no reason to retire.


8.  What’s your go-to technique for dealing with ‘handful students’?

For a kindergartner who wouldn’t stop crying I had the chess pieces introduce themselves to him and ask them to be his friend.


9. What is an unusual place you have been to? 

Saudi Arabia


10. Do you have a talent that not many people know about? 

Not really except I’m sort of a walking Wikipedia of useless information.


11. What’s your #1 teaching tip?

If I have a class that didn’t go as well as expected I try to make adjustments for the next class. Keep things fun!


12. What’s your favorite classroom Attention Getter? 

A kid came up with this and while it makes no sense it works. I clap 3 times and say 123 KFC. The kids respond “Hello Mr. Pizza man!”


13. What is something interesting that you’re involved in, outside of Chess Wizards?

I volunteer at my local food pantry.


14.  If you saw a kangaroo and a chimpanzee playing chess what would you do? Who do you think would win?

This is a very easy question. My lion friend and I would challenge them to Bughouse and of course we would win.


15.  Star Wars, Star Trek, or they’re both lame?

The original Star Trek


16. What do you like most about working with Chess Wizards? 

The kids. I teach a year round park district class where many kids keep returning session after session. I really enjoy getting to know them and their families.