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Putting His ‘Hart’ In It


Board member Tim Gearhart gets involved through youth chess

Tim Gearhart

To many, Tim Gearhart is a board member, long-standing local presence, and a former teacher of thirty-six years. But to over thirty-eight children attending Paso Robles elementary and middle schools, he is a coach, and not the traditional sort either: Gearhart worked in our district for twenty-one years and since his second year here, he has dedicated hours of his free time each week to teaching chess to the youth of our community, and the results are as cute as one would imagine. 

Though he also has a history in Kiwanis, Paso Cares, and youth soccer, Gearhart has especially committed himself to instilling a love of chess in adolescents all throughout his career: When he first transferred to Lewis, he helped raise money for chess sets by collecting illumination cans, talking to ASB, and lending own personal sets. 

Currently, Gearhart helps at Winifred Pifer Elementary School and Daniel Lewis Middle School on Mondays after school and Wednesdays during lunch, respectively. 

“The kids were up and running right away,” Gearhart said. “What’s really exciting too is all the types of kids in (particularly) the Pifer club… We have kids in special ed and regular ed. Girls and boys. All talents levels through grades… (For example,) there’s a second grader who’ll just knock your socks off.”

And, as with most things, skill plays a factor in how one teaches so Gearhart accommodates for that as he guides his mentees along, employing key learning methods with all students.

“When they want to learn something new, we play and then address any weakness. Or, take one of their strengths and show them different ways of using that kind of attack. (With this approach) everything is modified to fit the needs of the student.” Gearhart said, “It’s really easy in chess to use differentiation instruction.” 

When asked about why he has continued on this path for so long, Gearhart didn’t have to think for long. “I’ve been doing this for quite a few years now… one of the reasons why is, not only do I enjoy the game of chess itself, but you can (also) see the chess players grow, change, and expand, with their math score going up (as well.)”

This idea is also supported by the study “Mathematical Problem-Solving Abilities and Chess: An Experimental Study on Young Pupils” by PhD student Giovanni Sala, researcher Alessandra Gorini, and professor Gabriella Pravettoni. This study finds that there is a strong correlation between chess-playing and mathematical abilities through a series of experiments on young people. 

Looking to the future, Gearhart has plans of developing a chess program that includes pay for the teachers that volunteer to coach after school. 

“I’’m still going to have my groups, but at the same time, I want to support more chess clubs throughout the district. So that’s what I’m doing now,” Gearhart said, ensuring that this game that has been such a staple in his life helps guide others’ intellectual and personal journeys as well. 

Photo via PRHS website
Photo via PRHS Daily News
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About the Contributor
Kalani Gaviola
Kalani Gaviola, Editor-in-Chief
Kalani Gaviola, senior, is one of the Editor-in-Chiefs of Crimson Newsmagazine, as well as co-InDepth Director. This is her second year as Editor-in-Chief and InDepth Director, and her third year in Crimson. Outside of Crimson, she is a varsity Cross Country and Track athlete, ASB Staff and Student Director, and an enjoyer of creative writing, reading, and drawing.
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