Making a difference for one kid at a time


Duncanville bus driver also teaches students to play chess
Originally published January 7, 2018 at 10:02 pm

The Associated Press

DUNCANVILLE, Texas (AP) — Donald Harris isn’t a professional educator, but he’s about to teach somebody a lesson as he calls out like a carnival barker during a lunchtime chess session at Duncanville High School.

“Come on over!” he shouts to a passing student. “I’ll get you!”

The Dallas Morning News reports the Duncanville bus driver sets up shop in the cafeteria two or three days a week, spreading out an array of chess boards along a table. The table quickly fills with competitors — some taking on Harris, others playing against their friends.

“I was just going to teach one kid,” Harris said. “But then the principal came over and started taking pictures, and it just blew up.”

Harris, who has driven a bus for the school district for nearly six years, likes to teach the cerebral game, all the while understanding that he’s just a novice himself. His chess education started only a month ago, when a student on his morning route caught his attention.

“This kid, he always made eye contact with me,” said Harris, 67. “So one day I just looked at him and asked, ‘Do you play chess?'”

Harris didn’t know how to play, either, but he decided that day that he would take up the game.

His first pupil got pretty good in a hurry, Harris said.

“He had beaten me three out of four times, but I got him today,” he said.

Principal Tia Simmons had an immediate reaction when she was on cafeteria duty one day and saw an older man with a school badge hunched over a chess board with another student.

“I said, ‘Oh, this is great!’ I snapped a photo and tweeted it out, saying something like, ‘Look at what our bus drivers do on their time off,’ and it got quite a bit of response,” Simmons said.

Once the crowds grew, Harris quickly realized he’d need some more chess boards. Now he purchases them regularly for $7 and gives them away to students.

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