Our Teachers
 Seun Bisiriyu-Salam (FIDE Certified Instructor)

I have a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. I’ve developed myself to become an International Trade, Logistics and Supply Chain Management professional but I have always had a strong passion for chess. After over 20 years of tournament play and close to 10 years of teaching, I have become a professional chess coach with a

Fide Instructor title. My Fide rating is 2089 (2188 - highest) and my current USCF is 2114 (2238 highest). 

I started teaching chess at the university, as a prominent member of the chess team, where I won the Overall Best Male Athlete Award for 2002/2004. I started working with kids after I graduated from the university. At Pedachess, we used chess to help kids with challenges in mathematics and the result was very impressive with all the kids having measurable improvements. Since immigrating to the United States, I’ve had the opportunity of working and volunteering at different chess programs. I’ve taught at curriculum classes, after-school lessons, private lessons and chess camps.  

Teaching kids how to play chess is what I really enjoying doing but I’m also working to get a Fide title and become a Fide Arbiter. I also have a Fide Organizer norm.  Apart from chess, I love to read, soccer and I spend time at the gym regularly.

Lamel McBryde (National Chess Master)

Lamel Mc Bryde is a National Chess Master and has been playing chess for 17 years. He has been teaching chess for the past 9 years and is very passionate about his craft. Learning the game without a coach and not much resources, Lamel still found a way to become one of the top players in NYC. He has won big money prizes in a lot of the biggest chess tournaments on

the chess circuit. In his spare time Lamel likes to go to the gym, play basketball, and play blitz chess with close friends. He believes in the sayings "teamwork makes the dream work", " you can do anything you put your mind to", " it's all about mind over matter"!

Majur Juac (National Chess Master)

Majur Juac is a Chess Master by way of Sudan. He was 19 and living in a displaced persons camp in Kenya when he first came across the game of chess.  He quickly mastered the rules, showing an immense natural aptitude and ability.


After he moved to the United States,

Majur began to study chess any chance  he got, and in 2005, he won his first major tournament.  Soon he broke the 2100 rating and earned the title of National Master in 2011. 


While he continues to play chess in major tournaments, Majur has also established a reputation of a sought after chess teacher.  He can be best described as a brilliant, thoughtful, kind soul with a surprising wit. His passion and love for the game clearly comes through when he teaches his young students, from Beginners to Tournament level players, and many of his students have achieved significant results in chess by becoming rated players. 


To learn more about Majur’s unique story and his difficult journey to freedom and success, please read an article published about him in the Washington Post in 2015:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/sports/wp/2015/03/24/after-surviving-horrors-in-sudan-pondering-what-his-next-move-will-be/?utm_term=.f612ee106133

Tamar Chanadiri

I, Tamar Chanadiri was born in Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia. I’ve been playing chess since I was 5 years old. My father was in love with the game and he taught me how to play and made me fall in love with chess, as well.  He hired   a chess teacher for me, and I’ve been playing professionally since. I came in US in 1999 and even though I came to a new country, that did not stopped me from

participating in the tournaments. When I was in high school, I participated in a NJ scholastics High School Championship Tournament where I got 1st place in individual competition and 2nd place, as a team. I have also participated in a US amateur east (NJ) U1800 tournament where I got 1st place. At the moment my USCF rating is 1893. I continue actively participate in chess tournaments.

I love playing chess, and especially, I love teaching it. It makes me proud and happy that I am passing my knowledge to the younger generation, some of whom, I know will compete in the tournaments in the future, but mostly they will all enjoy the playing chess throughout their lives. Chess gives a lot of opportunities. It teaches kids to make logical and smart choices on the board and in life. And besides that, they meet and make new friends when they play chess.!

Martin Kenny 

Martin Kenny has been teaching chess for more than 30 years both, locally, and nationally.
Prior to joining AlphaMinds Academy as a chess coach, he has taught chess at the Elizabeth Morrow Grammar School in  Englewood,  the  Elenor Van Gelda Grammar School in Edgewater, and several others.  On a national level, he has directed and taught Summer Chess Camps at some of the most prestigious prep schools throughout the country and at various recreation departments programs throughout New Jersey. Mr Kenny also worked as a monitor for USCF Scholastic 1500 and under chess tournaments at the Bergen County Academies.

Anthony Kozikowsky 

Twenty seven years ago at the age of four, my late and beautiful father taught me how to play chess. By the time I was eight, he couldn't beat me anymore. Within the next few years he began paying me for lessons. For my fourteenth birthday he bought me a 

Grandmaster tutorial and my understanding of the game grew exponentially. Within three years, I began giving lessons to both friends and clients. Over the last fourteen years I have accrued the skills to teach multiple levels of chess players. I offer detailed analysis ranging from the rules of the game to simple and advanced tactical training, which eventually leads to complex positional awareness.

My life as a chess player and teacher has lead me to be an avid member of the New York chess circuit; and to give back to my community as a volunteer instructor for The Boys and Girls Club of Hudson County. Chess has played a major role in my understanding of the abstract and complex patterns of existence as a whole. It is the motivation that has driven me to pursue a Bachelor's degree in Philosophy causing me to reach levels of peace in life far beyond the chess board!

Arrik Lehman

In the County College of Morris Library, there are always two chess sets placed in a group study area for students. Those plastic Bishops and Knights rarely sit still for long and it was there where I was introduced to the basics of positional chess 2 years ago. I was immediately fascinated by the art involved in converting a well nurtured position into a win. I transferred to NJIT for Electrical Engineering in 2017 and have become a much stronger chess player thanks to the help of the NJIT Chess Club. My mornings start with tactics and in the evenings, I go over endgame studies and analysis. My other activities include tutoring math and I was very involved in memory sport for a few years. The memory skills I developed over that period have been very useful for teaching since I can recall exact analysis from instructive grandmaster games that show the chess principles in action. Chess teaches children important life skills like creativity, planning, work ethic and the ability to be remain calm and objective in difficult situations. I look forward to seeing our students grow in these areas as well as in their play throughout the upcoming year!   

Maria Mozlin

My name is Maria but many people call me Masha. I'm from a country in Eastern Europe called Latvia. I've been playing chess for 15 years. It started as just a board game and became the center of my life. I graduated from Riga chess school with the title of National Master Candidate in 2013 after taking classes for 10 years. My coaches, GM Arturs Neiksans and IM

Vladimir gave me a strong foundation and most importantly sparked a passion in me for chess. I've played in numerous national and international tournaments throughout my chess career. Several times I came 1st in Latvian chess championship for my age group which led me to participate in many European and World youth chess championships. My current USCF rating is 2068.  Besides being an active chess player I've been working as a chess coach for 5 years now. Chess is something I'm truly passionate about whether it is teaching a beginner the names of chess pieces or analyzing a grandmaster game or playing at chess.com on Friday night. For me chess is far more that just art or sport, I believe when you do something for as long as 15 years it simply becomes part of you.

Lauren Berger 

Writing and teaching are my passions. I'm a professional writer for a digital marketing company, and I have been tutoring students at all levels for more than nine years. My teaching experience ranges from basic grammar lessons to entrance exams to graduate school thesis writing. No matter the topic or assignment, writing can always be fun!

I classify writing as a creative science. My goal is to teach students how to channel their creativity, while following the formulas of writing and grammar. With the notion that if one can think, one can write, I help students articulate their thoughts and insights and turn them into dynamic written words. 

I earned my Bachelor of Arts in communication with a concentration in public relations from University of Maryland, College Park.


Jeffrey Train has a BA in Philosophy & English and MA in School Counseling.

Jeffrey Train has been an educator, coach, and mentor for two decades.  He has been nominated for the Governor’s Award, and he has been a finalist for the Princeton University Distinguished Secondary School Teacher Award.  He currently operates the adolescent coaching service.  In addition to teaching Positive Psychology and communication skills, Jeff is an avid birder who has led numerous bird walks that include journeys in Central Park. 

Jeffrey Train

Jessica Bajno is a dual certificated Childhood and Special Education teacher.  She received a B.S. in Political Science from CUNY Hunter College and a dual Master’s degree in Elementary Education and Literacy from Long Island University/C.W. Post.  Jessica has been in education for over ten years working with students from Pre-K to 6th grade in various subject areas.

Jessica Banjo
Diana Golubeva

I have MS degree in Pedagogy from the State Pedagogical University of Penza, Russian and BS in Teaching of Mathematics and Informatics. I started my teaching career as a Math Teacher in Middle and High Schools in Russia. I also worked as a private math tutor for all ages for the past 10 years, both in Russian and in the US.               

I am an advocate of the Learner-Focused Approach to teaching mathematics. In this approach, learning is a process of constructing understanding of mathemeatics using the methods of questioning, listening, probing, challenging and encouraging the student.

Those who see mathematics as a way of thinking, rather than a mere record of knowledge, value this approach because it provides an opportunity for the student to "do" mathematics. I love teaching as it is fascinating to observe a student master a new concept and come up with innovative ideas. I look forward to working with my AlphaMinds' students!

Matthew Rydell

I am a lifetime teacher and learner, born and raised in Staten Island, NY.  I earned my Bachelors Degree from Cornell University in 1998, and spent the next few years working in the entertainment industry in Manhattan. 

Since 2005 I have worked as a private tutor for High School and College Entrance Exams. 

My approach to math education is to keep it fun, and focus on clear, precise language. 


I presently teach 4th, 5th and 8th grade math at the Southfield Institute in Staten Island. I continue to offer private one-on-one Math instruction to both gifted and struggling students. My Masters Degree in Education from CUNY / College of Staten Island is in Special Education for Grades 1-6. 

Natalia Kamenetskaya 

I graduated from Nizhny Novgorod State Pedagogical University in Russia with combined Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Math Education. I also hold Masters Degree in child psychology.

I have been working as a math teacher at different enrichment programs in NJ. I teach mathematics to school students of various ages who are interested in learning math beyond the school program, enrolling in math and science honors classes and participating in math competitions.

I teach my students to take a broader view, think out of box and use their imagination for solving non-standard and complicated problems. At the same time, I am a strong believer in systematic approach in education and make sure that the students know the basics thoroughly before moving to advanced topics. 

I look forward to work with students at AlphaMind Academy

Diana Sher (Logic for Pre-Schoolers)

 I am a teacher by profession and by vocation. I graduated from Moscow State Teachers’ Training University with honors diploma as a teacher of English as a foreign language. I am very interested in linguistics and culture in general. I love Russian culture and literature. Also, since my teen years, I have been fascinated by Japan’s culture and the Japanese language. I  studied Japanese at the Russian Diplomatic Academy, having passed the Japanese Language Proficiency test by Tokyo Department of Education in 2000. Now I speak fluent Japanese as well as read and write it.  

I have a lot of experience in teaching, translation and interpretation. After coming to the United States, I was also professionally trained as a medical interpreter at the New York University (NYU). 

I love teaching and, especially, I enjoy working with children. Their smiles and happy faces are my real reward. Developing logical thinking is very important, as Logics is the language of mind. My motto is “Learning should be always exciting and fun.” I always use creative approach in my lessons. I love helping kids to explore the world and develop creativity.

Tatiana Sapronova (Logic for Pre-Schoolers)
Portia Morrell 
George Gawargi

My name is Portia Morrell and my teaching background is in computer science education. I was first exposed to computer science in 7th grade, back in 2001, using a language called Logo. That one class is how I fell in love with computer science and decided to pursue it years later. For about 5 years now, I've gained knowledge through teaching and building innovative S.T.E.M curriculum for various after-school

and summer camp programs in NYC and New Jersey. Currently, I am a Computer Science Teacher at Lycée Francais, where I teach grades 8-10. The greatest joy in teaching Computer Science to my young students is seeing the spark and wheels turning in their heads of the infinite possibilities that can be created with code. I look forward to an exciting year of teaching the students at Alpha Minds Academy!


Russian Language Teachers
Svetlana Artemieva (Music and Drama)

Teaching music is my passion; to see my students learning and growing is amazing!  As a children psychologist, I use my music and art skills as one of the best instrument for early education for children from a really young age.  As a teacher, and as a mother of two wonderful kids, ages 1.5 and 3.5 years old, I use my music & art methodology

both with my young students and at home and I love the

result of happiness, mental and creative improvement of my children.

I moved from Moscow to New Jersey 4 years ago, first working at Marlboro Montessori Academy, and currently working in Genius Kids Academy as a full time pre-school Art and Music Teacher. I received 2 Masters degrees there, a degree in Children Psychology from Moscow State Academy (Plekhanov) and in Music Education (Accordion and Piano).

Upon arriving to the US, I also studied English language and Pedagogical Science at Rutgers University of New Jersey. 

I love my job! Music and Art is not what I do, it's who I am, and I am looking forward to instill my passion into my young students.

Tatiana Petrova (Russian Language)

Я родилась в Санкт-Петербурге. Мне посчастливилось вырасти в обстановке, где книги были основной темой для разговоров, среди стеллажей, уставленных шедеврами мировой литературы.

Каждая веха моей жизни совпадает с какой-то книгой или писателем.

Мое формальное образование тоже сосредоточено на языке и литературе:


- Два года на кафедре языкознания Санкт-Петербургского государственного факультета.

- Двойной диплом Stony Brook University, по английскому языку/литературе и лингвистике.

- Магистерская степень по литературе в Pennstate University.

- Два года на кафедре лингвистики в Cornell University.

Моя любовь к литературе неизменно сопровождается интересом к лингвистике. В своей работе как с детьми, так и со взрослыми я с одинаковым энтузиазмом уделяю внимание синтаксису и его поэтическому применению.

Последние 8 лет мой основной интерес составляет детская литература. Моя страсть - находить хороший литературный материал для своих детей. В своих поисках я руководствуюсь следующими критериями: издание, иллюстрации, язык/перевод. К счастью, мы живем в необыкновенно богатое литературой время. Море новых художников, авторов, переводчиков... Но в этом же изобилии таится и опасность: не весь этот материал годен для полки, которая будет формировать сознание ребенка. Чтобы пролистать сотни томов и пробраться через бесконечные ряды виртуальных стеллажей необходимо море времени и терпения. Но поскольку внеклассное чтение было основой моего образования, я не задумываясь трачу силы и ресурсы на составление библиотеки для своих детей. И я готова делиться накопленным богатством.

Внимание к литературе и языку - это не только средство развить грамотную и красивую речь и расширить кругозор, но и возможность открыть детям мир человеческих отношений и эмоций. Поэтому мой курс включает в себя интенсивное изучение грамматики и исключительно разнообразный литературный материал.


Inga Gvenzadze (Russian Language)

Образование получила в Тбилиси- закончила Грузинский политехнический университет. Долгое время жила в Грузии, очень люблю эту страну и её язык, но именно русский язык и русская литература стали главными в моей жизни.

Преподаю русский язык, 

литературу и историю в США 

уже более двенадцати лет. Моими учениками были дети и взрослые, 

разного возраста и разного уровня знаний языка. Естественно, опиралась на богатый опыт лучших русских педагогов, но индивидуальный подход порой требовал разработки своих, специальных программ обучения.

Для себя определила основные принципы преподавания:

  • уроки должны быть интересными, должны увлечь учеников

  • каждый урок должен включать обучение языку (расширение словарного запаса) и грамматике (грамматика даётся в виде наглядных таблиц и графических рисунков). Обязательная составляющая урока - знакомство с литературой, русскими писателями

  • изучение языка должно происходить во взаимосвязи с узнаванием русской культуры и истории

Ekaterina Kalmanson (Russian Language)

 Я закончила Московский Педагогический  институт, начала работать еще студенткой, и вот уже 25 лет я очень сильно увлечена преподаванием русского языка и литературы. В России я преподавала русский язык и литературу в школе, с пятого по одиннадцатый классы, готовила старшеклассников к единым государственным экзаменам, вела литературный кружок, преподавала

русский язык как иностранный студентам и взрослым и готовила сотрудников посольства США в Москве  к квалификационным экзаменам по русскому языку.


В Америке я преподаю русский язык детям дошкольного и школьного возрастов.Мои двух- и трехлетние ученики выучат со мной все буквы, будут знать много стихов и песен и играть в развивающие  игры. Если Вашему ребенку уже 3-4 года, то я  могу научить его читать по слогам и писать печатными буквами. Ну а мои ученики постарше будут читать, размышлять, проводить аналогии, писать, изучать грамматику и обогащать свои знания по русскому языку. Обещаю, что будет нескучно и результативно. Мои уроки свободны от назидательства и носят положительную эмоциональную окраску. Главный комплимент, который я часто получаю от своих учеников: “Как быстро пролетел урок!” 

Svetlana Podmogilnaya (Russian for Pre-Schoolers)

I am a primary school teacher holding a M.A. degree from Samara State Pedagogical University (Russia). 
I enjoy working with toddlers, preschoolers and primary school students.


I have a wonderful family with two preschoolers. We moved to the United States 2.5 years ago and I currently work at Apple Montessori Schools.In my pedagogical career I follow the idea that all children are kind and talented. And my main goal as a teacher is to find the right approach for each child individually.
Teaching inspires me to disclose kids' potential through the game during the learning process. I always enjoy working with children: their open eyes and hearts, sincerity make me happy.
I am looking forward to start working with my AlphaMinds Academy students.

Diana Sher (Logic for Pre-Schoolers)

 I am a teacher by profession and by vocation. I graduated from Moscow State Teachers’ Training University with honors diploma as a teacher of English as a foreign language. I am very interested in linguistics and culture in general. I love Russian culture and literature. Also, since my teen years, I have been fascinated by Japan’s culture and the Japanese language. I  studied Japanese at the Russian Diplomatic Academy, having passed the Japanese Language Proficiency test by Tokyo Department of Education in 2000. Now I speak fluent Japanese as well as read and write it.  

I have a lot of experience in teaching, translation and interpretation. After coming to the United States, I was also professionally trained as a medical interpreter at the New York University (NYU). 

I love teaching and, especially, I enjoy working with children. Their smiles and happy faces are my real reward. Developing logical thinking is very important, as Logics is the language of mind. My motto is “Learning should be always exciting and fun.” I always use creative approach in my lessons. I love helping kids to explore the world and develop creativity.

Marina Shiyanova (Russian for Pre-Schoolers)

I'm a native speaker Russian Language Teacher holding a M.A. from Kuban State University(City of Krasnodar, Russia) and B.A. degree from New Jersey City University.

I work with toddlers and preschoolers for one of Jersey City's prominent Child Development Centers, and I was very happy to be invited to participate in the Russian

Immersion Program in AlphaMinds Academy. 

In my spare time, I love to walk my labrador Misha through different parts of town photographing historical brownstone houses, the Hudson River waterfront, and cityscapes. I also have a daughter who is a museum educator and is earning her MBA in Management. 

I have taught French and Russian to children of different age groups and backgrounds, and am very excited to introduce Russian Language and Culture to AlphaMinds Academy's youngest scholars.

Currently I am working on my TRFL certificate from Pushkin Institute in Moscow, and I will be using many of the modern pedagogical methods  as well as traditional, time-proven techniques of language acquisition. Behind these long words is the joy of your child developing new knowledge and his or her pride in improving communication skills in Russian. Russian poems, songs and rhymes will be a significant part of our classes. We will be learning while having lots of fun!

Oksana Zaish (Russian Language)

I have a combined Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in English Language and Literature, Russian Language and Literature and Education. I graduated from the Zaporozhye State University (Ukraine), the Department of Foreign Languages. I have been teaching English, German and

Russian from the first to eleventh grades for almost fourteen years in the prestigious school-gymnasium in Zaporozhye and worked in the United States as Russian and English tutor.

Working with the children from all backgrounds, I offer the unique knowledge in this particular field presented in exciting manner. I am fond of teaching children and really passionate about their success in the process of learning. My personality is naturally creative and I enjoy exploring possibilities. I have an interest in modern methods of teaching and try to use them in everyday work. Having experience of school assistant principal, I have a certain psychological approach to students and their parents. Personal experience includes raising a son, who is 18 years old now and studying at Hunter College. My primary goals are to encourage kids to improve their knowledge of Russian Language, develop their imagination and expand their horizons. I will put all my efforts into raising intelligent young people using diligence, patience and motivation. 

Natalya Leshkova (Russian Language)

Родилась в Москве, но сознательная жизнь связана с Украиной. Закончила Донецкий  государствен-ный университет, преподавала русский в средних и старших классах,  была редактором в газетах Донецка. После переезда в США работала воспитателем в детском саду, и уже 14 лет успешно обучаю детей русскому языку и литературе.  

Любимый возраст: дети 4–7 лет. 


Учиться - это очень интересно, поэтому на каждом уроке мы будем:

  • повышать интеллект и эрудицию

  • развивать устную речь

  • пополнять словарный запас

  • знакомиться с русской литературой

  • решать ребусы, кроссворды

  • заниматься грамматикой

  • развивать внимание, мышление, память

  • играть в лингвистические игры

  • придумывать свои сказки, рассказы по картинкам

  • проводить тесты, диктанты, олимпиады…


Дети думают, что они играют, а мы знаем, что они учатся, и им нравится! 

Marina Shtapura (Russian Language)

Марина Штапура- филолог, выпускница Харьковского университета. Ее увлечение - режиссура и документалистика.

Она преподавала русский язык как иностранный в Харьковском университете, затем была одним из организаторв русскоязычной академии 

в Израиле.

Ее методика основана на применении заданий и развивающих игр, которые не только обучают, но, в первую очередь, вызывают интерес к получению знаний. Марина ставит своей задачей передать ученикам любовь к чтению и свободу владения языком через интерактивные задания и творческие проекты. 

My name is George Gawargi and I am originally from Egypt. I have been living in the US for over 10 years.  I have been teaching and tutoring computer programming, or “coding”, and engineering classes for several years, working with kids of various ages and levels of knowledge. I am very passionate about my work with young programmers: I help them enhance their creativity, expand their imagination, and improve their knowledge. I encourage them because I believe that learning should be always exciting and fun. In my spare time, I usually like to play soccer or go to the gym. I am currently studying Elementary Education at New Jersey City University (graduating in 2020), where I lear every day how to be a more effective teacher. 

June 22 - July 24
July 26 - August 28


We have suspended all in-person classes until further notice.

We have transitioned all our classes onto a distance learning platform.

Stay home, stay healthy!

News and Upcoming Events

Congratulations to the participants and winners of our previous chess tournaments!

Photos from past tournaments


For Current Students


The Hudson School
601 Park Avenue
Hoboken, NJ 07030


Jersey City (Sept-June)

Boys and Girls Club

225 Morris Boulevard
Jersey City, NJ 07302


Summer 2020 Online Session

Click here

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