There are four pillars that need to come together in order for a school program to be successful:
2) Faculty Advisor
4) Student Ambassador
A program can start with the buy-in of one or two, but without the blessing of all four, it won’t truly kick off and get sufficient student participation to get members ready to represent school at tournaments.
It is important for principal and other administrators to be aware of program and present it to greater student body. In one of the schools in which we run Middle School and High School electives, there was an Elementary School after-school club for many years but the Headmaster didn’t even know about it when we first inquired about whether or not there was chess in the school!
If a faculty advisor or PTA approves of program, that is Okay in the beginning, but its important for the principal to be involved. In one school in Manhattan, we started with an after-school club after working with their Operations Manager but now we are talking about starting curriculum classes after being close with the principal.
The faculty advisor can be anyone in the school not on the administration- after-school director, teacher, college counselor, etc. At the Grace Church School, for example, there is a science teacher who talks up our high school club as he used to run an informal one himself.
Many of programs have originated because parents have requested us to administration. Sometimes they are on PTA; other times, they are not.
In addition to helping getting programs started, parents are important to help each encourage their parent friends to sign up their kids and take them to tournaments.
Students will listen to their fellow classmates more than anyone! If their peers are doing “it”, they want to do to the same! That’s why its important to find a student ambassador, who can help get other students to become involved in club and tournaments. At Torah Academy of Bergen County, we quickly expanded our club from 4-6 regular participants to 15+ weekly, once we got the chess team captain to spread the word about how our expert instructor could help them win their Yeshiva league competitions.
With all of these 4 fundamental assets, like the four sons on the Passover table, you can start a successful chess program. Within 2-3 months after starting one, students will generally know the rules and basic strategy to be able start playing in tournaments. After a year or two, the students will start and bringing back city, state and national titles for the school!