Dr Jeff Bulington Teaches Chess To Elementary Children in Mississippi

Franklin County in a remote corner of Mississippi has two stoplights, one elementary school, and long ago lost its only train stop.  Could kids learn chess here?  Would they even want to?  Dr. Jeff Bulington took on the challenge, accepted a contract from an anonymous benefactor, left his home city of Memphis, and moved to Franklin.  Predictions were that Bulington could perhaps find a dozen interested kids.  He found hundreds!

Bobby Poole, Bulington’s assistant chess coach, put it: “All the statistics, everything you look at, Mississippi is the poorest.  It’s the dumbest.  It’s the fattest.  We know that the rest of the nation has that conception of us....  People said that country kids couldn’t learn chess.  We showed ‘em different....  We teach history.  We teach geography.  We teach science.  We teach math.  We teach it all using the chess board….”

Last spring Bulington’s team of mostly elementary school kids from Franklin County faced off against much older high school players at the Mississippi state championships, and they held their own!  Braden, one of the Franklin kids, put it: “They were basically, like, trying to say we were a joke cause we were kids.  But after the game, we usually beat ‘em and they were like very shocked.”

Then, a year-and-a-half after Jeff Bulington first showed up to introduce chess to a small county in Mississippi, 33 of Franklin County’s chess wonders and their parents traveled to the national school championships.  They faced more than 1,500 players from 644 schools, many from wealthy suburban school districts.  The surprising result: Franklin’s fifth graders came in 8th among all the fifth grades and their sixth graders came in 10th among all the sixth grades.  As one Franklin parent put it: “What happened is a bunch of hillbillies beat the snot out of a bunch of really highly educated, sophisticated people.  So that’s what happened…”

 Chess has helped the Franklin kids see there’s more to themselves than they’ve seen before:

 Parker: “Chess is, like, something that like I’m like really good at for once.”

 Donovan: “All my grades used to be like low, medium low Bs.  Now, they’re A’s and high B’s.”

 Rebekah: “I feel like chess could take us anywhere.  But it’s not about where it takes us, it’s about how far it takes us.”

 The year before chess arrived, seven of the 93 graduates from Franklin County High School went on to a four-year college, but every chess player at Franklin says he or she plans to attend college some day.

 It’s often said that to teach is to touch a life forever.   Through chess, these Franklin children’s lives have been forever changed with hope and a brighter future.  The cost of such a chess program is minuscule compared to almost all other educational programs.  Hopefully other school districts, especially less advantaged districts, can take notice.


Good News Counts,




Sports for social change: School's revolutionary curriculum helps at risk kids

At this new charter school the students play seasonal sports (as well as weight training, cardio, yoga and core strengthening) for the first three hours each day!  The goal of this very unique high school is to use sports as an academic-engagement tool to drag the highest of the high-risk students back from the precipice of scholastic failure.  The school week is six days long, and all students participate in a mandatory summer program.

Urban Dove Team Charter School in Bedford-Stuyvesant is open to students who are “over-age and under-credited.”  (In New York City, there are nearly 140,000 young people between the ages of 15-21 who have either dropped out of high school or are lacking the course credits necessary for graduation.)  This charter school has three special ed teachers and a social worker, but the critical role is played by the coaches.  Students are divided into “teams”, but their coaches also play the role of adult mentors who travel with the teams through every class during the entire school day, starting with a homework period (all “homework” is done in the morning with the team), and who motivate, guide, and counsel the students.  Coaches promote communication, teamwork, and leadership to help improve students’ confidence and self-esteem, ability to focus, managing of emotions, and consideration of others.

The school’s founder, Jai Nanda, coached basketball in an urban school in the 1990s and noticed that the boys on his team did much better academically during the basketball season and would often drop out completely when the season ended.  Jai began to understand the academic and social power of sports to energize, engage, and educate, which eventually led to this academically successful charter school which uses sports to provide a structured, disciplined environment.   Jai has worked with young people his entire life, and has dedicated his career to improving and enriching their lives.

Research has long shown the health and social benefits of physical activity for young people, but there are growing studies showing that students can better focus their attention and perform better on academic tests after exercise.  Especially morning sports increases kids’ school engagement and cuts way down on truancy.



The Good World News


Student sinks half court shot to win free tuition

  • Published in Sports

With College tuition going up every year, any kind of financial support is greatly appreciated.  Ball State University offers one Freshman every year a chance to win free tuition for their first year…The only catch is that they have to make a near-impossible half-court basketball shot!  The University has been doing this for a few years now, but nobody has successfully made the shot.  Markus Burden now has 11,084 (which is how much his tuition is) reasons to be excited now after he became the first student to sink the half-court shot!  An emotional Burton called his mother to tell her the exciting news, as she was equally pleased.  The whole crowd went crazy when he sunk the shot…take a look! J



Have a great day, and let the good news be yours,



Reference: http://gma.yahoo.com/blogs/abc-blogs/ball-state-freshman-sinks-half-court-shot-free-155533237.html?vp=1

Subscribe to this RSS feed