Kathy Kuhlmann left behind an educational legacy when she died of pancreatic cancer in April 2014, said Nicole Foster, a gifted science teacher at Woodlawn Middle School.
The school’s sizable chess team — about 30 members this year — was a big part of that legacy, said Foster, who manned the T-shirt station at May 2’s Chess Classic, the annual parish-wide chess tournament.
“When she came (to Woodlawn Middle) as assistant principal, I followed her,” Foster said. “She always encouraged teachers and students to try different things and to be the best we can be,” Foster said, and the chess club was a natural extension of that.
Nothing she did was coincidental, Foster said. Chess became not just an extracurricular activity, but also a means to teach concepts of logic, strategy and planning.
This year’s tournament was held in Kuhlmann’s memory, in part because of that legacy, and in part because her funeral was on the same day as last year’s Chess Classic.
She would have been proud to see the 100 students from middle to high schools across the parish spending their Saturday afternoon honing their competitive chess skills in tournament play, Foster said.
A portion of the proceeds from Saturday’s concessions and T-shirt sales will go to the American Cancer Society in Kuhlmann’s memory.
This was also the first year that the tournament, sponsored by the Foundation for East Baton Rouge Schools was organized in house, said Janet Pace with the foundation.
“We’ve hired out the tournament to contractors in years past, and this is our first year to do it on our own,” Pace said.
IBM provided coaches for the event, and City Year volunteers provided logistical support.