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For schools or communities looking to build a thriving program like this, what's the most important first step they can take?
I think the emphasis on afterschool and enrichment activities during the school day and after the school day at I.S. 318 is an excellent example for other schools to follow. Afterschool programs at I.S. 318 are not seen as "extras," but as a critical to educating the whole child. I.S. 318's late principal, Mr. Rubino, would hire teachers that also had a special talent they could channel into an afterschool program, like music, art, guitar or dance.
[...]There's this kind of seamlessness to the school day, where a student can take a chess class during the day and then also be part of the chess team after school. And the kids are happy to be at school and to stay at school past 3 p.m., because they know they are going to get to participate in the activity that they've chosen, and that they're starting to build a passion for.
So, do you play chess now?
I wasn’t a chess player before we made the film and I still don’t consider myself a chess player after finishing the film, either. But I did learn the fundamentals of the game, which is much more than I had when I started. I think I was under the delusion that I was actually learning some strategy by spending so much time in the classroom, but my husband still enjoys kicking my butt every opportunity he gets. And I’m proud to say I finally got the nerve to play my first game against one of the kids last weekend. It was against [I.S. 318 team member] Pobo, and he said I actually didn’t play so bad — so I’m pretty proud of that!