Thursday, June 22, 2017

Dreaming bigger than the county line

Today's crumb is submitted by a faithful reader in Plymouth, Indiana, who learned about it on the CBS television program "60 Minutes." Briefly, it concerns children in Franklin County, Mississippi, which has only two stoplights and one elementary school. In 2015, chess teacher Dr. Jeff Burlington was hired by a wealthy benefactor to join the school staff and teach chess. No students had ever played it, but "Dr. B" captured their imagination. He expected a dozen chess students. Today he has about 200. Dr. B teaches history, geography, science and math using a chess board. Last year, only seven of the 93 graduates from Franklin High School went to college. But nearly all Dr. B's chess players expect to attend college. They are thinking beyond the county line. Why?

                                                                                                                                     CBS News
Last spring, Franklin County's chess team went to Starkville for the state finals, where they competed against high school students. Dr. B's team dominated. Did his kids feel bad beating older students? "I don't mean to sound mean," said one of his young players, "but I'm really OK with crushing people's spirits." Last December 33 of Dr. B's young chess masters rode a bus to Nashville, Tennessee, where they played in the national finals against 644 schools. In a contest where the best teams come from the best schools in New York City, Franklin County Upper Elementary made its debut. After studying chess for only 18 months, two of Dr. B's grades placed in the top ten in the nation. According to one of his students, "One thing that I don't think I say enough is 'thank you.'"

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