I’m looking forward to meeting the kids, the community, all the parents, all the teachers – we’ve already had some opportunities to meet with a few teachers and still have some more coming up now. It’s really just being able to create a vision that’s around students and helping them grow and be successful – and not just here, but putting things in place for them to be successful when they get to high school. I think it helps that I have the high school experience and know what the expectations are to be able to implement that here.
The teachers that I’ve met and all the stories that have been told, everyone is all hands on deck – “What do you need me to do” – and everybody is willing to do what’s needed for kids, which is awesome. It makes it exciting.
Do you have a favorite memory from your own school years?
I graduated from Bayside. I went to Luxford for a year when I came to Virginia Beach, and then I went to Bettie F. Williams, Bayside Middle School and Bayside High School. I’ve been a big guy for a long time. I’ve been six-foot-whatever since…I don’t know how long. Everybody said, “Oh, you want to play football? Oh, you want to play basketball?” When I got into high school, I played football and I didn’t really enjoy it that much. I didn’t really enjoy going to study hall, and down the hall was the chess club. I learned how to play chess when I was in elementary school. There was a guy in our neighborhood. He had computerized chess boards. It was cool because when you had to move, it would tell you where to move the piece and that’s just what you had to do. I learned how to play from him and we’d go over there and he would let us use the chess boards – my brothers and I would play. I didn’t really take it too seriously. I just knew how to play.
So, I’m this big guy walking in (to play chess) and people just think, “Oh.” And I’m like, “Oh no, I’m good!” That was the best thing. We went to a lot of tournaments. Mark Bland was the German teacher and he was the chess coach. We went to the World Open in Philadelphia. We went to the nationals. We went to the state championships every year. We did a lot of chess tournaments, and I used to love walking in – parents are always there because of their kids and stuff, and here’s this big guy walking in, sitting at table 1 in the front. That was the greatest because I love to do things that people think I can’t do. I love a challenge. I’m super competitive. That was fun. I think, because of my size, people automatically think I’m involved in athletics.
You said you didn’t enjoy football?
I played my sophomore year. I started out at JV and at the end of the year they asked me to move up to varsity. I just didn’t want to. It wasn’t exciting.
But chess is exciting.
Chess is exciting.
I have an app on my phone that I play. I don’t get a chance to play in tournaments anymore because it requires a lot of travel because there are not that many here in the area.
I also enjoy playing volleyball almost more than chess – or about equally. I love volleyball. I played my senior year at Bayside. In fact, Coach Cunningham, I saw him recently at Planet Fitness. He really got me interested in volleyball. It was fun.
Is there anything else people should know about you?
I enjoy my job. I enjoy the work that we do. I enjoy my family. I enjoy my kids and other people’s kids and I try to treat them like they’re mine.