• IDRA Newsletter • October 2016 • 


Editor’s Note: IDRA sponsored a national essay competition among participants in the IDRA Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program, a nationally-recognized cross-age tutoring program of IDRA. Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program tutors wrote about how the program helps them do better in school and how they help their tutees to do better. Six students received prizes. Below is one of the winning essays. Others are posted on the IDRA website.


High School First Place: Stefan García

12th grade, Odessa High School, Ector County ISD, Texas

First of all, I’d like to take this time to thank the school district and my teachers for giving me this wonderful opportunity. Not only have I seen a glimpse of what it’s like to be a teacher, I also have been given the chance to help shape a new generation of our nation’s youth. Teachers are our nation’s backbone. I know the average salary of a teacher is not nearly as much as it should be. This tells me something important, something all students should know. No teacher is in it for the money. The reason they are teachers is because they know the importance of leadership. It takes patience and dedication to be a teacher. Most students do not know this.

The Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program has been mainly about being a leader. To be a leader you must guide, care and nurture for the people you are leading. The characteristics of a leader are that of a mother or father. Not only do you have to care for the people you are leading, you must create a bond with each and every one of them. With some people, you will find out you might need a little bit more patience. Some people just understand that being lost is so close to being found. The night is darkest just before the dawn. So when everything seems hopeless, faith is an essence. The level of faith in a leader will show just how much they are willing to do for the people they are guiding. For an example at the beginning of the year, my tutees would always complain and say how they were going to fail their STAAR exams. On a daily basis, the teacher and I would remind the tutees that everything we do in class will be on the STAAR exam. As their progress improved throughout the year, I noticed they were complaining less and less. The feeling a teacher or tutor gets when they get through to a student and they understand a problem fully is best explained as happiness and a brief feeling of accomplishment.

This past month, my tutee asked the teacher how many questions are on the STAAR exam. She said that there are 50 questions on the exam. Some students, as expected, said how that was too many questions and that they might fail. Then one of my tutees looked at me, then to the teacher and said, “I’m going to pass, because [my tutor] taught me how to do everything.”

Another point I wanted to make about being a great leader is that you not only help others with problems, you help build their courage, confidence, intelligence, and as a human being overall. The Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program opened my mind to better thinking. Also the program reminded me every day that time is limited, not only in class, but in life. I have been given a higher sense of purpose, to that I cannot ignore. I do not know what I want to major for in college, but I do know one thing, whatever I choose, I will help better the world.

The IDRA Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program is an internationally-recognized cross-age tutoring program. Since its inception in 1984, the program has kept more than 33,600 students in school, young people who were previously at risk of dropping out. According to the Valued Youth creed, all students are valuable none is expendable. The lives of more than 646,000 children, families and educators have been positively impacted by the program. Contact IDRA for more information.


Learn more about the IDRA Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program

White House names the program a Hispanic Ed “Bright Spot” 

The program was featured as an “American Graduate Champion” by PBS KLRN-SA 

See a video about how the program works  

See the program brochure


[©2016, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the October 2016 IDRA Newsletter by the Intercultural Development Research Association. Permission to reproduce this article is granted provided the article is reprinted in its entirety and proper credit is given to IDRA and the author.]

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