Wizard of the Month Spotlight - January 2023 - Kenny Ide


Our employee of the month is Kenny Ide from Boston, MA. 



Kenny joined Chess Wizards seven years ago, and has taught in-person classes, online classes, and lots of camps. Kenny plays the harmonica, is a fire performer, has amazing nunchuck skills, and has previously spent time teaching juggling and hula hooping to kids. He is a super creative individual who really knows how to bring the magic to class! 


Kenny, 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 Kenny below:


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

My name is Kenny Ide. I was born in Boston, grew up in Newton and then moved to Framingham for school at Sudbury Valley when I was 10. I learned a lot about self motivation, organizing others for activities and a lot about my self. I grew to really love people, community and games that work the mind! My longer term goals involve the Expansion of my own Non profit/CDC Ecosystem Productions as we work towards our goal of being a sustainable land trust with a focus on community values and development.


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

About 7 years now.


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

That the nature of humans is somewhat selfish as a base mode of survival and it's our agreement to treat each other as we would like to be treated and a choice to be good that makes society function, as like good sportsmanship helps to keep a classroom functioning smoothly and everyone having fun. (Nature vs nurture) It's absolutely invaluable to teach kids the values of the golden rule, to instill respect of one another and the practice of being patient and persistent at the same time. 


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

I helped host a cross school tournament and got to see some of my students win trophies! =) 


5.  How do you motivate your students to succeed?

I teach them how learning chess will help them master the skills of patience, persistence, positivity and practicing and how mastering such skills will allow them to master anything else they want to be good at in life! Chess is push ups for the brain! I also emphasize that mastery is a never ending journey and you are only ever truly competing with your self. 


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

Well my most exciting memory would also work here so let's go with when the pandemic hit and my boss Sam came to me in a panic about how we were gonna make a living and I helped him calm down and approach the idea of working out an online platform. We then got it up and running together with the help of Tim and others. It ended up being one of my favorite ways to teach chess and quite frankly an extremely efficient and effective way to teach to the kids with all the quality online tools and the skill separation we had, kids were even regularly more well behaved and focused than in person class rooms before and since. Also, nice not having to commute to work. I wish we could still run the online program as well as our regular in school programs to help supplement more work hours or for those who want to teach but can't or don't want to commute, or even just for the kids who are extra dedicated to learning chess or more advanced students maybe who grow out of our regular curriculum… A wizard can dream… 


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

Spend my time trying to help those less fortunate and attempting to solve the world's biggest problems. 


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

Often times, one on one attention, playing games with them to help get them into the game more and bond with them. It depends on the type of handful they are though really and how persistently they are being a handful. But building a bond with them over a one on one game is the first go to move before other measures must be taken. 


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

Burning Man, or Yellow Stone National park. 


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

If I told you, then many people would know about it… I typically share my talents like my fire performance etc. And my secret talents must remain secrets. But I guess you could say, not many people know I'm pretty good at the harmonica and drums or that I'm pretty decent at beatboxing and singing but kinda shy with both also. I donno how deep the answer needs to be lol if I have to pick one simple answer, I think the least people know about my harmonica skills, and it's a fun one to mention that I'm secretly proud of.


11. What’s your #1 teaching tip?

Set the tone right on the first class! Teach the kids about the value of the golden rule and good sportsmanship! Discuss the concept of respect. Explain how class will be run each day, USE THE POINTS and tournament mode every day! Loom trophy scarcity over them just enough to feel like they gotta earn it still but earning it will be as easy as being a well behaved student basically. Show then how proud you are of their progress as often as possible! (Yes that's all one tip I swear - first class expectations)


12. What’s your favorite classroom Attention Getter? 

Whatever their school uses. But I do like "one two three eyes on me" and it seems very effective in most schools. I also think that just asking "can I get everyone's attention please" gets students to pay attention great, if not then I may resort to something else. If we are talking general attention, then it's all about theatrics and just being the most entertaining, enthusiastic and loudest person in class to keep their attention.


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

I'm a fire performer for events and a permaculture/sustainable gardener at times. I also help organize and run community events of sorts in various ways. 


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

I'd document it with my camera phone and be incredibly impressed the kangaroo is playing at all. I'd assume the chimp would have the best chance of winning, but I'd also assume neither would play by the rules at all, and that they would just be knocking over the pieces. Either way I'd take a video lol


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

They are both great in completely different ways. Love them both!


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

I have an amazing boss who has an amazing boss who has amazing bosses who all hire amazing employees and they are all extremely flexible, accommodating, supportive, understanding, and generally great to work for! They always know how to keep me around and motivated! I also love the impact I can have on the kids lives and how funny and inspiring the kids can be.