Light Buggiani

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 .


Donari Braxton

Associate Director

Donari has been involved in chess learning and education for over ten years. He’s helped cultivate championship scholastic programs at a number of New York City’s leading schools, including Trinity, IS 318, St. Bernard’s and Buckley. He’s a lover of film, photography and books, and especially enjoys finding rare, beautiful games from chess history to study and annotate. Donari believes in chess as a tool for children to build self-confidence, develop analytical thinking and to explore and challenge their sense of character and of self.


Maurice Ashley

International Grandmaster
Grandmaster Instructor

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.


Martha Fierro

FIDE Woman Grandmaster
Grandmaster Instructor

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."


Aryam Abreu

International Grandmaster
Grandmaster Instructor

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.


Sandro Pozo

International Grandmaster
Grandmaster Instructor

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." 


Jairo Moreira

International Master
Master Instructor

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."


James Mann De Toledo  

International Master
Master Instructor

Brazilian International Master and chess author James Mann Toledo has been teaching chess in schools for over thirty years.  His love of teaching chess is compelling!  Thirteen of his students have won first place at national championships and two of them have since become Grandmasters.  When he is not teaching and playing chess, James plays and teaches Shogi (Japanese Chess) and has recently won Shogi Championships in the U.S. and Brazil.


Epah Tembo

Woman International Master
Master Instructor

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.


David Rigo


A graduate of Duke University and Thompson Hunter Honors program, David has been immersed in chess and teaching for over a decade with children of all ages. As David says "Seeing improvement over the chessboard is always rewarding, but the growth that is possible through chess extends to life lessons like: winning and losing with grace, goal oriented planning, and perseverance in the face of challenges." He is very excited to be a part of the Educational Light team.


Kelvin Oppong


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
Light team.

Kelvin says “I look forward to both inspiring and being inspired by my young students."


Joseph Reiver


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


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. 

Max Hasse


"Life imitates chess!" Coach Max is a lifelong aficionado of chess and chess history, with a special interest in programming and the advancement of computer chess science. Becoming an Expert chess player while still in high school in Texas, he developed his teaching talents working with children at the Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, and later by teaching English to children abroad in Madrid, Spain. Max takes great pride in watching his students grow through their achievements with the game of chess, and carry that confidence to other areas of their lives. Balancing out his busy teaching schedule, he's also currently completing studies at NYU, with a major in Economics and minor in Computer Science.


Joan Fernando


Joan Fernando, from the Dominican Republic, has been an avid chess player since an early age. Going through tournaments at a scholastic and club level, his passion for chess as a competitor has also translated into teaching it. He believes that chess is a fun and competitive way to help children develop their critical thinking, logic, and creativity. He has experience teaching children and teenagers in his native country and is eager to share his knowledge and experience to help the younger generation through chess.