The Sunrise Center for Excellence in Chess offers teacher training and community chess programs led by acclaimed instructors with long careers in the classroom and in after school.
FIDE Master Sunil Weeramantry is a pioneer in the field of curricular chess instruction and a nationally acclaimed educator with more than four decades’ experience teaching and developing award-winning chess programs. Beginning in 1979, Sunil developed a comprehensive chess program at Manhattan’s Hunter College Campus Schools, a leading laboratory school for talented and gifted students, where chess is a required subject for all students in kindergarten through fourth grade. Founder and Executive Director of the National Scholastic Chess Foundation, Sunil directs programs at over one hundred other schools and community programs in New York and Florida and, through a series of workshops presented across the United States, instructs classroom teachers on how to teach chess.
Sunil served as Chairman of the Chess in Education Committee of US Chess for 10 years. He currently serves on the Scholastic Council and is a vocal advocate for the broader benefits of chess. A two-time New York State Champion, Sunil is better known these days as the stepfather of GM Hikaru Nakamura, one of the world’s elite grandmasters. Sunil is coauthor, along with Alan Abrams and Robert McLellan, of Great Moves: Learning Chess Through History (Mongoose, 2017), a blended learning text that teaches chess and social studies, and, along with Ed Eusebi, of Best Lessons of a Chess Coach (Extended Edition, Mongoose, 2020).
Chris Goldthorpe has been producing top performing chess stars since 1997. While at a scholastic chess tournament, Chris was approached to teach children he was helping between rounds. People continued to request his services as a chess instructor, and he would draw crowds wherever he taught. Now with more than 20 years as a full-time chess instructor, Chris founded several South Florida chess clubs and has authored books on chess for scholastic instruction, classroom training, and self-study and evaluation. Among his programs, Chris was the long-time chess teacher at University School in Davie which has produced many national championship players and teams.
Chris' gift for teaching began at an early age. While attending college, he tutored other students in math, and was the most requested tutor at his college, even above faculty, though he charged more money for his services. His gift for teaching is evident during the first minutes you see him work with a new student, adult or child. People who have learned chess from Chris report improvement in their everyday thinking skills, work habits, time management, and school grades. As a trained electronics engineer with a B.S.E.E., Chris brings a mathematical perspective and precision to everthing he does, including teaching and playing the game of chess.
National Master Nicholas Rosenthal has been playing chess since the age of 9 and has been teaching chess, privately and in groups, for the last 7 years. Nicholas won numerous Florida State and National Championships throughout his scholastic career and has valuable tournament experience that will help students to improve. A graduate of South Plantation High School, Nicholas attended Lindenwood University on a chess scholarship, where he served as the chess team captain during his final two years. Nicholas returned to South Florida after earning his degree in sports management and joined the NSCF/Sunrise team in 2020. He has been teaching at our programs throughout South Florida.
Robert McKenzie was born and raised in South Florida and is a product of Broward County Public Schools. He graduated from Boyd Anderson High (Lauderdale Lakes, FL) in 1990 where he was a stand-out basketball player. He did not get into chess until years later in college at the suggestion of his older brother. His brother had picked up the game on road trips while playing in the NFL. Robert's drive to finally beat his brother at something drove him to read a book on chess so he could improve and he soon accomplished his goal, then went on to play in local tournaments and continue his personal chess education.
Upon graduating college, Robert began his teaching career at Castle Hill Elementary School in Lauderhill, Florida as a second grade teacher. He started teaching chess to the many boys that would come to his door to see, at that time, the only male teacher in the school. He was soon teaching boys from 2nd through 5th grades along with some girls. Though a Title I school with little funding for his extracurricular endeavor, Robert was able to develop a chess club that thrived with as many as 20 children coming regularly and influencing hundreds more by the presence of a chess club at their school and the pride that engenders. His philosophy for chess is to use the game as a vehicle to help young people develop a framework for higher thinking so they can make better decisions in life and school. The first team he trained, a group of three boys from Castle Hill, won 1st place at a regional tournament to the surprise of Mr. McKenzie and he says this gave him true hope that these children could indeed accomplish anything they set their minds to.
After earning his Master's degree in Math Education from Nova Southeastern University, Robert became the Math Specialist and began teaching the whole school chess through his innovative math special. Castle Hill received its first school grade of B during this time. In 2014, after 17 years of teaching chess to boys and girls at his elementary school and now back in the classroom, Mr. McKenzie embarked on his most successful year as a chess coach in a small portable classroom with limited resources. He trained a small team of 8 boys and girls and won a number of prestigious local tournaments as a team and individually. But his most audacious move on the chessboard was yet to come. He felt he had the strongest girl players of their age in the country. He approached his principal with the idea of taking a girls team to a national competition, The National All-Girls Championship which was to be held in Chicago; she was supportive as were the girls' parents. Mr. McKenzie was able to maneuver the pieces into place for his girls to compete. In their most challenging battle to date, and facing competition from all over the country, his team placed 2nd in the nation. Winning this was a great accomplishment for a small Title 1 school. His team received a proclamation from the Honorable Mayor Richard Kaplan of Lauderhill and several stories appeared in the media locally and nationally.
Robert is currently teaching intensive math at Lauderdale Lakes Middle School in Lauderdale Lakes, Florida. He continues to teach chess and share his vision for the game. This year, he has been teaching chess to over 180 students in his Friday classes as well as running an after-school chess club.
Robert McKenzie holds a B.S. in Elementary Education from Bethune-Cookman University and a M.S. in Math Education from Nova Southeastern University. He is a Certified Chess Coach and Tournament Director of the United States Chess Federation and Certified Senior Instructor of the National Scholastic Chess Foundation.