Founder and Director
Light has been teaching young chess players for fifteen years. In addition to the Educational Light School of Chess , Light has taught in both school and after school programs, including the Princeton Day School, LREI, the Browning School, and currently, St. Bernard's School and the Buckley School. He grew up in Rome, and now lives in NYC with his wife Monica and their son Luca. While Light has led many students to win state and national championships, his true joy is in sharing the wonder of chess .
A filmmaker and chess aficionado, Donari Braxton has lived in France and traveled the world in pursuit of his film subjects. He has been teaching chess for over ten years and actively works to reach underserved communities so he can share the magic of chess with all young people. Over the years, Donari has worked with very successful students and teams including National champs Trinity.
"I enjoy helping kids learn to hone their analytical thinking, judgement and intuition."
Maurice Ashley, 2004's US Chess Federation Grandmaster of the Year, now brings his talents and passion to Educational Light! A world-renowned teacher, Ashley coached his teams to win the national championships three times, authored acclaimed chess books and apps, and gave lively play-by-play analysis of high profile chess matches including Man vs. Machine (IBM vs. Kasparov) and World Championship events as the ESPN chess commentator.
In addition to teaching at Educational Light, Maurice serves as a Joint Fellow at Harvard and MIT expanding the world of chess through innovative use of technology. Ashley views chess as a powerful character-building vehicle for all children and especially at-risk youth. He travels internationally to inspire and to teach.
Cuban Grandmaster Aryam Abreu has been teaching chess to children and top players in every age group for 15 years. His top flight students include Grandmaster Lenier Dominguez who is rated a whopping 2739 FIDE! As the official Cuban team trainer at two Olympiads and one World Cup, Aryam specializes in preparing students to compete in all levels of tournaments and has a unique approach to teaching endgames. A father of two wonderful girls, Grandmaster Abreu loves working with children, guiding them to experience the joy chess can inspire.
Grandmaster Sandro Pozo has been an official trainer of the Cuban Youth team at world class tournaments and has expertly guided a lot of students to reach master strength. Now in the US, Grandmaster Pozo is eager to share his enthusiasm and time-tested training techniques with Educational Light Students. With his good humor, experience and and enthusiasm, Pozo brings an extraordinary approach to students and classes.
"I enjoy watching children grow as thinkers and learn to navigate the chessboard and all of life's challenges with confidence and energy."
FIDE Woman Grandmaster
WGM Martha Fierro is a superb chess player and an incredible teacher. Among her many accolades, she is a six time Women Pan-American Champion and she has won two silver medals at the Chess Olympiad. Martha says that through chess she has improved upon many valuable skills, such as concentration, memory, decision making and planning.
"I love teaching chess because I can give those same opportunities to my students and I love to see my students having fun while learning and improving."
Jairo Moreira is an International Chess FIDE Master (World Chess Federation), as well as a Certified FIDE Trainer, and international Tournament Director. Moreira has been coaching students since 2004, both privately and in groups in his charming soft spoken manner. Among his private students are two National Champions, along with numerous state and local champions. Jairo says, "I love passing on my love of chess and helping kids to see the beauty of it."
Tatiana Duarte Brea
Woman International Master
Tatiana Duarte Brea is a distinguished Woman International Master and has taught chess in schools and afterschool programs sine 2002. A Brazilian native, she boasts a long list of achievements, including Female Chess Champion of Brazil, 5-time Pan-American Chess Champion, 9-time winner of the Brazilian Junior Championships, and Brazilian contender for the World Chess Championships. Tatiana takes great care with her students and loves teaching math and chess to children of all ages.
James Mann De Toledo
Brazilian International Master and chess author James Mann Toledo has been teaching chess for over thirty years and has helped guide countless young players to elite scholastic success. James’s students have taken first place at National Championships, represented their countries in national Olympiads (including Japan’s 2020 Olympiad team), and several have earned chess’s highest titular honor: that of International Grandmaster. Most recently, one of James’s students was accepted into the Saint Louis University Chess Team with a Full Scholarship for Medical School. Outside of chess coaching, James is also a world-class Shogi player (Japanese chess), and has recently won Shogi Championships in both the U.S. and in Brazil.
Woman International Master
Visiting Zambian WIM Epah Tombo Jere is an active competitor and has been teaching young players for nearly a decade. While she has coached national teams to compete in major international competitions including the Chess Olympiads in Istanbul , Epah is also committed to teaching children from all walks of life and experience levels. She is the founder of Epah's Legacy Chess Club which works directly with underprivileged youth in Zambia.
Fide Master and three time Ecuadorian National Champion Raul Marquez has been teaching chess to both children and adults for over twenty years. Raul is not only a master on the board, he is also a masterful guide who has coached teams as well as his private students to victory in many top tournaments including first place at the national championships in 2010, 2011 and 2013.
"Chess is an extraordinary tool children can harness to become masters of their own destiny"
Woman International Master
WIM Viktorija Ni was born in Latvia and has studied and played competitive chess for 20 years. She played in her first World Youth Championship at the age of nine and has won numerous championships in Europe and the U.S., and twice finished fourth in the U.S. Women's Championships in 2012 and 2015. She has played in two Chess Olympiads for her native Latvia and two Women's World Team Championships for the U.S. Viktoria has enjoyed teaching chess to children since 2010 in classrooms, summer camps as well as private lessons. She believes that chess positively shaped her thought process and ability to focus on complex problems, and hopes to impart those benefits on her students.
Rudolf Van Dommele
Rudolf has been playing since he was a child growing up in the Netherlands. A father of three, he embraces both the challenges and rewards of teaching young learners. Rudolf is a photographer who has worked in Paris, Milan and New York and now lives in Cold Spring where, in addition to his photography, he runs the Cold Springs Chess program and coaches his son's soccer team.
Rishad Mistri has been an avid chess player since his early teens. He is also a classically trained violinist, an acclaimed songwriter and an internationally published photographer. Mistri loves teaching chess to young learners because, as he says, "Chess teaches children that perseverance translates into excellence, and, above all, that learning can be cool and fun."
Born in Beirut to Indian parents, Rishad lived in Europe and South East Asia before coming to New York when he was 12. He attended Boston University and The New School for Social Research.
Sari Glickstein has been teaching chess in NYC schools since she was 13. Sari loves the art of teaching chess to children. She says, "I love seeing the effects of chess on the choices children make in life, how they grow to understand about consequences coming from actions, the importance of thinking before you act, and planning ahead." Sari has taught at numerous public and independent schools, including The Harlem Children's Zone, Grace Church School, Packer Collegiate School, Friends Seminary, Brooklyn Friends School, St. Luke's School, St. Hilda's and St. Hugh's, and the Dwight School. Currently, Sari is teaching at St. Bernard’s, the City and Country School and Gillen Brewer.
A graduate of Duke University and Thompson Hunter Honors program, David has spent the past two decades immersed in chess and chess teaching. "Seeing improvement over the chessboard is always rewarding, but the growth that is possible through chess extends to life lessons: winning and losing with grace, goal-oriented planning, and perseverance in the face of challenges.” David specializes in getting newcomers passionate about the game of chess, and helping beginners leap forward to the next level. As a classically trained actor, his creative approach to teaching has helped countless young players develop and grow through the game of chess.
Amanda has been teaching students of all ages for over 13 years. She is a chess enthusiast and her passion is watching students begin to acknowledge their own growth and take pride in their achievements. Amanda was a tutor for a program called Safekey in her hometown through which she tutored many children in a variety of subjects, including math and science. Her approach to teaching, whether chess or math, is to engage students with games or puzzles and challenge them ways that are fun. Amanda also enjoys teaching ballet, modern dance, and swimming. She has worked at The Dalton School Summer Camp, Ballet Academy East, and the NY Health and Racquet and Sports Clubs.
Kelvin has been a devoted chess player since he was six and is well acquainted with the trials and travails of scholastic chess as a regular competitor at the nationals. After graduating from Providence College, Kelvin has been an active chess teacher in classrooms, camps and private lessons. He is thrilled to be part of the Educational
Kelvin says “I look forward to both inspiring and being inspired by my young students."
Jay Ben Markson
Jay Ben has been teaching since 2006, in topics as varied as Shakespearean textual interpretation and polynomial algebra. He has a BA in Theater and Creative Writing from Dartmouth College and an MFA in Acting from Case Western Reserve University/Cleveland Play House. Though acting is his primary passion, Jay Ben has loved games and puzzles his whole life -- especially chess, which combines elegant complexities with an extraordinarily rich history. He is excited to share with young people his fascination with "the game of kings."
Alan Markley is a native of the Inland Northwest, and has been an avid chess player since his childhood and was a "mathlete" in school. He says that the best part of teaching is helping children find excitement and pleasure in the process of mastering new ideas and skills. Alan studied math and music throughout his college career and earned a Masters degree in music. He has been teaching children for over a decade and in addition to being a chess coach, enjoys building circuits and is an active musician. Alan lives with his wife in Brooklyn and is thrilled to be joining the Educational Light team.
Coach Joseph Reiver has been an avid chess player since he was a child. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he has played chess throughout New York City and has taught chess in many classroom settings. Joe is an actor, writer, and photographer. Joe also works with Zara Aina, a non-profit organization that helps at-risk children expand their capacity for achievement through theatrical performance and storytelling. He finds it very rewarding to be able to teach and reach young learners through his own passions and interests.
Shamah Devonish is a recent college graduate from Seton Hall University where he majored in Communication and minored in Musical Theater. He loves to write music and dance but his other passion in life is chess. He has been an avid chess player from the age of 8 and has continued to pursue chess through playing and teaching. Shamah was born and raised in Brooklyn and loves teaching chess in New York City where the chess culture is thriving.