The Torres Chess and Music Academy brings chess instruction to the twenty-first century classroom.
Parents in Lathrop, California are growing accustomed to seeing their kindergartener’s eyes glued to the screen of an iPad. Often times their child isn’t watching a movie or playing a kid’s game. Instead, kindergarteners around town are turning to the iPad to improve their cognitive function or as they like to say, “Play chess.” Since playing chess also improves academic performance, these lucky parents couldn’t be happier.
Currently, Chris Torres, the President of the Torres Chess and Music Academy, is teaching nearly sixty kindergarteners at River Islands Technology Academy the game of chess using a combination of the traditional methods he has used to train several National Champions as well as high tech devices that allow his students to grasp concepts at a much faster pace. The results of his new method have astounded the parents of his kindergartener students as well as captured the attention of chess instructors worldwide.
Of course, fundamentally changing the way chess is taught to children took years of planning and many partnerships. The first step for Chris Torres was finding a suitable school where children were already exposed to technology in the classroom on a daily basis. An obvious choice was River Islands Technology Academy in Lathrop, California. Founded in the fall of 2013, River Islands Technology Academy is the result of Central Valley visionary Susan Dell’Osso’s desire to create a state of the art technology academy in her home town. Soon after River Islands Technology Academy opened its doors for the first time, Chris Torres approached Principal Brenda Scholl with his plan to bring chess into her classrooms. Brenda became first principal in San Joaquin County to accept Chris’ offer for an after-school chess club. Brenda Scholl also Ok’d a chess period to be a part of every kindergartener’s Friday class schedule. Around the same time, the Torres Chess and Music Academy received a generous donation from Palantir Technologies co-founder Joe Lonsdale that made it possible to bring a first rate chess education to schools in San Joaquin County without any funding from the cash strapped schools or parents. Chris Torres attributes the early success of the chess club to forming a committed team of adults who want to help children in California gain a world class education.
“The state-of-the-art chess program at River Islands Technology Academy is the result of teamwork by parents, partnerships with educators and collaboration with generous patrons. Without this framework, establishing any chess club would be difficult and especially so for a club which aspires to be the leading edge of chess education in the twenty-first century.”-Chris Torres
This is not Chris’s first attempt at teaching chess. Through the Torres Chess and Music Academy, Chris Torres has brought world class instruction to California’s most talented young chess minds. Some of his accomplishments included running a “Chess Study” with the Kern County Superintendent of the Schools and U.C. Berkeley from 2006-2008. In addition to the study, Chris was able to educate the children in Kern County’s migrant farm worker community in chess and even coach them to prestigious Southern California regional chess titles. In the Bay Area, Chris was able to instruct several individual National Chess Champions as well as coach for the Mission San Jose Elementary School chess team, which in 2009 and 2013 took first place at the USCF Super Nationals Chess Championship.
Chris Torres hopes that the River Islands Technology Academy’s chess club will not only raise the bar for how chess is taught in schools but also serve as a model that other prospective chess educators can follow. To this end, Chris Torres regularly advises parents and teachers on the necessary steps to establishing a successful school chess program. In addition to these free consultations, Chris Torres also uses the Torres Chess and Music Academy as a vehicle to bring chess to thousands of children in Northern California.