AGazine, September 2019

The Online Magazine of the Academic Games Leagues of America

Calendar of Events Outstanding Educator Outstanding Senior Down Memory Lane Past AGazines


Calendar of Events

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Outstanding Educator: Maggie Grindstaff

Congratulations to Maggie Grindstaff of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, for winning an Outstanding Educator Award at the 2019 AGLOA National Tournament. In her six years of involvement with Academic Games, Maggie has attended four national tournaments. She coaches Equations, On-Sets, LinguiSHTIK, Propaganda, and Presidents at Patrick F. Taylor Science and Technology Academy. Her teams and players have won dozens of awards at the last five national tournaments. Here are excerpts from her nomination by her principal, Jaime Zapico.

Under Ms. Grindstaff’s leadership the Academic Games team has grown in numbers due to the fact that she welcomes students who are new to the program and encourages them to be full participants. From fifteen members the first year, the team has grown to 75 members this past year. More than 10% of our students compete in Academic Games. She makes sure students are committed to the program since there are two weekly practices after school to improve their abilities for tournaments. She builds collaboration and leadership skills in her teams by having the upperclassmen coach the middle school students during their weekly practices. The problem-solving skills she teaches have helped our students to score higher on their standardized tests and have increased the number of National Merit Finalists for our school.

Ms. Grindstaff was named Patrick Taylor’s teacher of the year in the 2016-2017 school year and was a finalist for the parish award. She took over the Academic Games program due to a teacher taking leave for a family medical event. She wanted to make sure the program continued for the students at Taylor and the administration was elated when she became the advisor.

In addition to coaching our team, Ms. Grindstaff is responsible for the scorekeeping at both the local and national tournaments. She assists with coaching the Jefferson Parish team for the national competition and transports students to the parish practices.

Ms. Grindstaff makes every effort to make sure that the students who want to compete in Academic Games are able to do so. At the beginning of the year, she actively recruits students to join the team and works with those students so that they feel confident at the tournaments regardless of previous experience. She often stays hours after the scheduled practice for students who need help or with students whose parents cannot pick them up. She spends Saturday mornings attending clinics with her students, and takes the students to local, state, and national tournaments. Ms. Grindstaff also spends most of spring break practicing with her team so that they are prepared for the national tournament.

Even though she is primarily a middle school teacher, all of our students love her and rely on her for guidance. Two years ago, the senior class requested her as the guest speaker at their graduation.


Outstanding Senior: Suraj Zaveri

Suraj Zaveri of Haynes Academy for Advanced Studies in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, capped his ninth year of Academic Games competition with an Outstanding Senior Award at the 2019 AGLOA National Tournament. Here are excerpts from the nomination letter from an opposing coach, Maggie Grindstaff.

Suraj is on the AGLOA Wall of Fame. His local awards are too numerous to name. As a team member, he was won a total of three national sweepstakes awards (2016, 2018, 2019) as well as individual first places in On-Sets, Equations, Propaganda, and Presidents.

Suraj arrives early for every tournament and helps set up. He stays late to clean up. Moreover, he does it all with a smile on his face. He helps student across all grade levels and all of Jefferson Parish and Orleans Parish. Suraj is a main instructor in the “Thinking Kids” camp every summer and for two weeks he coaches any student who would like to improve. This past year, he has gone even further and teaches students in monthly Saturday Clinics. These clinics teach Elementary, Middle, and High school students who have all varieties of experience levels how to better play Academic Games. In addition to teaching the students, Suraj has also been teaching new coaches how to coach by offering Coaches clinics.

I first met Suraj six years ago. I had become the “emergency” coach of the Academic Games team when the previous coach took a family emergency leave. I was new to Louisiana and had never even heard of Academic Games, so although I did my best, my kids were very unprepared for the first tournament of the year. My kids returned from the tournament and kept talking about “Surj” and how he had beaten them handily and then had taken time to teach them HOW he had beaten them, so they could use the strategy against someone else. Although my students have never been able to beat Suraj at the local level, he has gone out of his way to make sure that they are ready to compete against their next opponent.

Although Suraj has been the thorn in my side for the six years that I have been coaching, he is also the reason why many of my students have been able to compete at Nationals.


Down Memory Lane: General Demands 1974

Which one of these cities has never hosted an AGLOA National Tournament?

(A) Baton Rouge, LA
(B) Charlotte, NC
(C) Cincinnati, OH
(D) Knoxville, TN
(E) New Orleans, LA
(F) Wheeling, WV

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