Valued Youth Partnership

Alina Lozano – 2023 Third Place High School Essay Winner

Alina LozanaAlina Lozano

10th Grade, Odessa High School, Odessa, Texas My Experience in IDRA VYP

When I first started in the program, I knew absolutely nothing about it. I remember walking into the classroom wondering what I had gotten myself into. As the days went by, I was told what the program was and a basic rundown of how it worked. It combined my two most favorite things: helping and kids.

I love and enjoy working with kids, especially little kids. What people don’t understand – and I wish everyone could see it from my point of view – is that the little kids you get assigned aren’t just little kids, they become a family. You form a special bond with the littles throughout the year of working with them. It’s not just simply working and helping them but creating special memories that years from now you can go back down memory lane and remember the things you did with your littles.

My first year in the program was my freshman year. I remember having my little tutees. I say “little” but they weren’t so little. They were my little second and third graders. When I first started going into their classroom, they were very skeptical asking many questions. As the days went by, they started getting used to me going into their classrooms, and we established a routine.

Their teacher had commented that they struggled to read at a higher level. Based on that, every Monday and Tuesday, they would read to me their book of the week. After they finished, we would take some time and talk about their book and what their book was about. On Wednesdays, we would work on their math folder, and on Thursdays I would choose a book and read to them, and we would talk about the book. I would go to the public library and take books out to read to them on Thursdays. Tutoring them wasn’t a job to me, it was more like a reward to me and them.

Now this is my second year in the program, and I’ve gotten the opportunity to meet new little kids who I love and adore. The first semester, I had two third graders. Now in the current semester, I have two little kindergarteners who can sometimes be a handful, but I still love and adore them. As I was walking out of the building from working with my kindergarteners, one of my third graders was in line to go into the library. He saw me and came up to me and gave me the biggest hug. It’s the little things of going and tutoring a little one that, no matter what, they will always have a memory of you in them.

I will forever cherish many memories of me and my littles. Whether it be the pictures they would draw me or us talking about their books, their little faces when they would see me, or just simply rewarding them with a sticker after doing a good job that day. It’s not a job to me but a reward.

Getting into the program has made me realize that I want to continue working with kids in the future. I am so glad and thankful that I was introduced to the program, because it has shown me a different perspective of how teachers actually deal with us. I’m very grateful for all of the good memories I have created with my littles and hope to continue to make more with them as well as meet new littles.

See color highlights flier for 2023 (pdf).

See the booklet with all the winning essays from 2023 (pdf).

The IDRA Valued Youth Partnership is an internationally-recognized cross-age tutoring program. According to the Valued Youth creed, all students are valuable, none is expendable. The lives of more than 725,000 children, families and educators have been positively impacted by the program.