Lerner Award

Chess in the Schools Announces:
The Andy Lerner Award
for Excellence in Chess Education

This nationwide annual award recognizes exceptional work in chess education by administrators and chess educators serving public schools or non-commercial children’s chess clubs. 

This year, there will be two Lerner Award recipients and four finalists decided upon by a committee of educators and members of the chess community. The two winners will each receive a $10,000 award. The award will be divided between the educator and their affiliated organization, each receiving $5,000. Awards of $2,000 will be given to finalists.

The award recognizes educators’ impact on the chess community and students, with alignment to CIS’s mission and the values of youth enrichment through chess education. The committee will take into account innovation and dynamism in teaching and programming (such as tournaments or other events), and awards, recognition, or other outcomes of the students, clubs, and communities served.

“It is my hope that this award will highlight the invaluable work that chess educators are doing in underserved communities across the US” –  Andy Lerner, Award Supporter and Board Member

2024 Lerner Award Finalists/Winners


  • Eliot Weiss, Coach of the Murrow High School Chess Club, NY, was announced as the winner in the Best Chess Coordinator category of the Andy Lerner Award for Excellence in Chess Education. 


  • Elizabeth Spiegel, Chess Teacher at I.S. 318, Brooklyn NY, was announced as the winner in the Best Chess Educator category of the Andy Lerner Award for Excellence in Chess Education. 

Finalists in the Coordinator Category:

  • Abel Talamantez, Chess Program Manager, Rise Hamilton Chess, Novato, California

  • Judy Viertel, Teacher Librarian/ Chess Coordinator, Marshall Elementary School, San Francisco, California

Finalists in the Educator Category:

  • Keyron Jarvis, Chess Lead, Bold Charter School, Bronx, NY

  • Lauren Jahn, English Teacher/ Chess Club Advisor, Sturgis Brown High School, Sturgis, South Dakota

In addition to selecting the winners and the finalists, the Award Committee presented Lifetime Achievement Awards to 

    • Margaret Russo, Principal at P.S. 160K, Brooklyn, NY, and 
    • David MacEnulty, legendary chess coach and author. 

The winners received a monetary prize of $10,000 that included a $5,000 award to the educator and $5,000 to the affiliated organization. Four finalists each received a $2,000 award, split between them and their chess programs. 

Questions may be directed to Elena Ryabova, CIS Director of Development: (646) 688-0724, eryabova@chessintheschools.org