Provider Showcase Interview - C&O Chess Center
When you see a good move, look for a better one - Emanuel Lasker
The classic game of chess is a game of strategy, critical thinking, sportsmanship among others which can immensely contribute to a healthy mind and shape up the future of a child.
To that effect, Ross and Omar Pancoast of the C&O Chess Center, have worked hard to establish chess as a mainstream game in the Beltway area for over 20+ years, teaching hundreds of students each year and producing a US National Master, a Maryland State E.S. Chess Champion and over 33 students in the Maryland Chess Championship tournaments.
An amazing contribution to our community that should not go unnoticed and we at KeDazzle couldn't be more proud of, to partner with them. So we sat down with Omar & Ross to learn more about their school!
What type of classes do you provide?
We provide beginner and intermediate chess classes primarily to Elementary and Middle School students. Also, we offer private classes to kids of any age, parents and coaches as well!
Can you tell us briefly about when you started and why Chess?
Omar: I began in the early 1970s after being a VISTA volunteer, working with “at risk” youth in a depressed area of Michigan. Having some experience teaching, and working with art, drama, sports, and academic tutoring, I became convinced that the emerging field of teaching and coaching chess to young people had the greatest potential to affect long term changes in academic performance, discipline, creativity, and other areas of personal growth and development. Disappointment with the state of elementary and higher education at that time, as well as starting my own family, encouraged me to explore this direction for my life.
Ross: I joined the journey of teaching chess started over 15 years ago. My dad was the one that started the program and I joined his team to help him grow and expand the business. Also, owning my own company gave me the flexibility to spend time with my family and my newborn.
Why do you think Chess is relevant and important in today’s day & age? What are the benefits of learning this game?
“Chess is an inter generational, cross-cultural, lifelong activity, with the potential to unite individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds.”
Ross: Chess is a game about actions, and consequences. It is dynamic and constantly changing, and the results are always based on personal choices. The benefits are wide ranging. It teaches you to multi-task through the variety of pieces, how they move, and the use of time controls and the recording of moves (required in tournaments and for post-game study). It can teach you to think ahead and to anticipate both your own and your opponent’s moves. It teaches sportsmanship and responsibility on an individual basis, with the results (win, lose or draw) based on personal performance. It provides the opportunity to study on your own and to control your own progress.
Omar: To be successful requires the acceptance of personal responsibility. But, in addition, the cognitive, analytic, and character-building skills developed in chess may carry over to other aspects of one’s academic and personal (and eventually professional) life. Chess is an inter generational, cross-cultural, lifelong activity, with the potential to unite individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds.
What are the key ingredients of your teaching?
We have a unique approach to work with both individually and with a group of students at varying skill levels and ages. We make our activities both mentally stimulating through fun challenges and make sure each child is engaged in every lesson. Knowing that online gaming is one way to engage with a lot of the kids, we have partnered with one of the largest online playing chess sites where kids have 24/7 online access where they can practice and play with other members around the world. Many students have family members who play, both here and in other countries, who may be reached with this online site.
What is it about this game that is so interesting to your students? (Why do they love it)?
OR describe an event/time that made your feel really proud of teaching this game.
It’s an incredible feeling when your student comes to you filled with joy because they beat their parent in a chess game for the first time. More to that, the proud moments we will never forget is when we see our kids go to the tournament and play competitively in a national rated event. These are the moments always remember and reminds us why we do what we do. It makes it worthwhile!
“Our proud moment, seeing a student that I taught in Elementary School, becoming a National Master.” - Omar
Any fun fact that you want to share with us?
Ross : We had 33 students in the 2019 Maryland State Elementary School Championships, in Baltimore.
Omar: One of my pre-K students (5 yrs. old) recently went undefeated to win the 2019 MD State E.S. Championship, Under 600 K-5 Section (6 rounds, 89 players). His trophy was almost as big as he was. LOL :)
What is the most important piece of advice you have for parents?
Chess is a learning game that should be fun too! Give them time to practice on a regular basis and play with them!
“Students need role models as well as model games”
What makes your classes unique and why do kids love it?
Our ultimate goal is to help our students experience chess as a fun, challenging, and lifelong activity. Even though chess is thought of a quiet game - we focus on developing a lifelong love for the game through various tactics. We always have a mix of socialization between games and our style of teaching keeps the game fresh through variety of chess “variants”.
Any advice for other aspiring teachers?
When it comes to teaching, you must have a passion for teaching and be patient with kids progress. For the aspiring teachers or students who want to teach, we have a great “Coach In Training” (CIT) program that can qualify to teach and you can earn SSL (Student Service Learning) hours.
The most important thing is the skills that are being taught through this game go far from the board, and prepare the person for life difficulties, and problems, teach them how to solve those obstacles in a creative way. Teaching your children how to play chess, can be one of the greatest things that you will do for them.
KeDazzle is so excited to partner with C&O chess center to help them utilize our amazing activities management platform. We will help them to streamline their daily business through our platform to manage emails, scheduling, payments, communication, and so much more.
To find out more about C&O family Center, please visit their website:
"The will to win" means nothing without "the will to prepare!"