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Valued Youth Partnership

Heather Perez

Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program – 2013 Essay Contest

Winner: High School Third Place

View printable PDF version of her winning essay 

Heather Perez
11th Grade, South San Antonio High School, San Antonio

What tutoring means to me

Since I became a tutor in the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program things started to change for myself. Things were not just about me, but it was now about my tutees and me. Just the feeling of seeing them every day was such an inspiration, because not only was I glad to see them but they were also glad to see me. Just getting the chance to tutor the children strengthens me in every perspective.

When I first started to tutor, my teacher asked each and every one for us what class we wanted to teach at Kindred Elementary School , I quickly said first grade, but I didn’t get the privilege of getting that grade; instead I got second grade. At first I was not sure about teaching second grade, but it turned out to be great. My tutees were Johnny, Christina and Lawson*. They were a bit out of line but in the end they turned out to be such amazing tutees. My bond with them had increased over the year. Their vocabulary words started to get better; they started to be more diligent.

My tutees have inspired me to reach for my goal in becoming a lawyer, because I want to show them that staying in school can lead to a great career. They are not the only ones who inspire me, but my classmates and teacher do as well. We have created a bond with each other that no one would have ever expected. Not even I expected to create such an incredible bond with my classmates. But I truly am glad to be in this year’s Coca-Cola Value Youth Program.

*name changed for privacy


The Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program, created by IDRA, is an internationally-recognized cross-age tutoring program. Since its inception in 1984, the program has kept more than 33,000 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 787,000 children, families and educators have been positively impacted by the program. Contact IDRA for more information or see the program website.