• by Kwame’ Weatherall and Phylicia Molette • IDRA Newsletter • October 2010 •
Editor’s Note: IDRA sponsored a national essay competition among participants in the 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 had helped them do better in school and how they had helped their tutees to do better. Six students received prizes. Below are two of the winning essays. Others are posted on the IDRA website.
High School First Place
Ninth grade, Lee High School, Houston ISD
The Best Decision of My Life
Have you ever experienced a childhood without a father figure around? As you get older, you get into more trouble. You begin running from the law and from home, getting into gangs, carrying unnecessary weapons, and acting poorly in school. Until one change makes you a better person inside and out.
When my mother and I took one step and moved to Houston and I discovered the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program, things began to change for me. Since then, I gave up possession of unnecessary weapons, and I finally started listening to my parents. For the first time ever, I am proud to show people my grades and tell people what I worked hard for.
Ever since I joined this program, my attitude has changed toward helping people who are in need or struggling. What I love about the program is that it kept me on my toes as a role model, because how can someone be a second grader’s role model and still out on the streets doing drugs or violence?
I take pride in working with my tutees very seriously because I don’t want them to goof off in school like I did as a child. When I see a smile from my tutees, it gives me the sign that I am a great person as a role model and as a growing man. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I didn’t make this best decision of my life.
Middle School Second Place
Eighth Grade, Kennedy Middle School, Atlanta Public Schools
When I look into the big, bold, bright and beautiful eyes of my tutee, I think of all the opportunities I gained from being a tutor. Experiences I shared with my tutee helped me to look at the world from all angles. I no longer only look at the world from my perspective but also strive to look at it from everyone’s perspective. Since I became a tutor, I understand younger children better, appreciate teachers more, and have become a wiser, mature, confident student and role model.
Understanding younger children plays a huge role when you are a tutor. Having the ability to know your tutee’s personality can really benefit you. When I first started tutoring, I didn’t get some of the techniques my tutee used to comprehend lessons. As months grew older, I realized that children have different ways of understanding things, and it all depends on your learning style. Another issue I came upon when I first started tutoring is the attention span of many students in the class. I learned that if you want to have an everlasting, powerful effect on a student’s lesson, you must allow some fun to be involved to get the student captivated while still learning. Traveling to Bethune Elementary to tutor has helped me to be both sympathetic and caring to the needs of younger children!
Teaching students in hectic classrooms that are sometimes similar to mine taught me to appreciate teachers more. In the past, I didn’t really cherish my teachers as much as I needed to. Now, I acknowledge teachers’ feelings and encourage children in my tutee’s class to not talk so much and to listen more attentively. In the future, I plan to continue to respect teachers and become a role model for my tutee, so someday he can inspire someone else just as he inspired me! The Coca‑Cola Valued Youth Program has widened my eyes and made me see the significance of all teachers.
Maturing and becoming wiser and confident is destined to come once you become a tutor for the
Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program. Once I stepped in the classroom filled with commotion and raucous little kids being hyper and active, I knew I had to get rid of childish habits I owned. I had learned that I was tutoring young children, which meant I wasn’t a child anymore. I was so much more. I was a young adult! The
Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program has taught me so many values, I can’t name them all. But one value I really appreciate is me finally maturing!
I can truly say I’ve learned a lot from tutoring so far that made me the person I longed to be, an inspiring one. The next step for me is to climb all the way up the ladder of success then climb back down to spread my word of advice to the other kids my age wanting to get to the top but who are not sure of themselves like I myself have also felt before!
Our attitudes control our lives. Attitudes are a secret power working 24 hours a day, for good or bad. It is of paramount importance that we know how to harness and control this great force.
Comments and questions may be directed to IDRA via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[©2010, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the October 2010 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.]