Valued Youth Partnership

Anahi Ortiz – 2019 First Place High School Essay Winner

IDRA Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program – 2019 Essay Contest

Anahi Ortiz

12th Grade, Odessa High School, Ector County ISD

I was supposed to be in child development, but when my counselor told me the next level was a parenting class, I lost interest. I didn’t want to do it, and not because I didn’t like it or didn’t like the teacher. I didn’t want to take the fake baby home and deal with the fake crying. My counselor gave me another great option. He told me that our school had a program that would pay for being in class and tutor little kids. I didn’t have to think about it twice. I just nodded my head up and down desperately saying, “Yes!” At first, I didn’t have a clue about what I had to do. All I heard was that I was going to get paid just for going to class. Who wouldn’t love that?

Honestly, I thank my school counselor because, even though I saw it as easy money, I learned valuable lessons. The Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program is one of the least recognizable but one of the most important programs in my school.

I learned to see other people’s perspectives and to make connections with my tutees. I learned how teachers struggle to find new techniques to teach their students every day. I learned how to make a bond and communicate with little kids. The kids share their state of mind, and I love it. They have taught me more than I’ve taught them. I love my tutee and I really have fun teaching and learning about him.

I now see education in a different way. My tutees’ teacher developed a way to let her kiddos know where they stand in their reading, and it helped me know where my student stands. She decorated her door as a race track, and the goal is to get to the finish line. Some students are very close to the goal. The closer they are, the easier second grade will be. My tutee started the year at the back of the race track, and his car never moved. Though the year, we have worked on reading and recognizing words. Each week, as he gets better and his car moves, the more confidence he has. While his reading car is not at the head of the pack, it has moved even with some of the other kids in his class. My tutee is excited to keep reading and makes progress every week. I am so proud of him and the hard work he has put in.

I’ve experienced a lot with my tutee while in the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program. I would leave the classroom with a headache. I found this weird because I loved kids. Why did this one give me headaches? At first, I didn’t know how to teach him because he moved too much. Once I even thought he was too hyper for me, but then I realized that I’m the same way. Even though nobody told me, I know I have a lot of energy and to get rid of it I start to move and talk a lot. It seemed like I traveled back in time and was teaching myself. When I was little, I loved to have everyone’s full attention and to make eye contact with my teacher because it made me feel more secure. While I worked with my tutee, I realized that he was my exact reflection. I found that crazy because he ended up with me, someone who has been through the same thing he’s going through. Is this destiny or just God’s plan? We might never know. But what I do know is that the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program has helped me impact another’s person’s life by helping him improve his reading skills. Honestly, I couldn’t be happier.

See color highlights flier for 2019 (pdf).

See the booklet with all the winning essays from 2019 (pdf).

The IDRA Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program 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.