Valued Youth Partnership

Jade Hernandez – 2022 High School Second Place Winner

Jade Hernandez

11th Grade, Odessa High School, Odessa, Texas My Tutees and Me

I have come to appreciate the opportunity IDRA has given me. I have been able to connect with my tutees in a way that brings joy to my life. I love seeing the kids have a blast while working with me. I feel proud that I am actually doing something good. Being a tutor has taught me so much about children and how they learn. Seeing this in action has inspired me to be a teacher.

There were many times I did not quite know what I wanted to do with my life. I always thought I was going to have to end up like my parents. No not in a bad way, they are a major part of this journey I recently stepped into. My parents always had big dreams as well, but they didn’t have the support at home to help guide them in the right direction. That’s why when I got the opportunity to be in the Valued Youth Partnership and work with students, I thought to myself that quite possibly I might have a chance to do what my parents didn’t get to. They taught me that even though they didn’t have the help, they are proud that I found a passion for teaching and are overwhelmed with joy that I get to participate in an amazingly good program.

On the first day, my teacher told me who my little tutees were. I was so excited to get started with them. I’ve always wanted to work with younger kids, and I’m so glad I have had the opportunity to do so. I was very anxious to meet my kids. I planned to work with fifth graders because I felt I could communicate better with them. But after observing different classes, I spoke with my teacher, and we agreed that first graders would be a better fit. I am so glad that I went with first graders because it’s always a different day with them. They say the funniest things.

The first kid I tutor is Liam*. Liam is an outstanding first grader. He is ahead in reading and mathematics. Learning comes very easy to him. He grasps new concepts easily. I love to challenge him because he enjoys it. I challenge him by encouraging him to try difficult things on his own before asking for help. When he figures it out on his own, he gets excited and feels good about the accomplishment. When he gets excited, he does a little dance afterward; he wiggles his shoulders and smiles. Then I give him a high-five to help build his confidence even more about his work.

The second kid I tutor is Daniela*. Daniela is such an amazing little girl. She is outgoing and will share the first thing that comes to mind. When I first met, her she used very short sentences. Now she has expanded her vocabulary and storytelling abilities. Her “no-filter” stories have become more detailed, and she is fun to listen to. Daniela is great at multiplication. She still needs help here and there but can do a lot on her own now. I taught her how to do her nines with her hands, and she was so excited each time we did them. She loves to be independent and does it by herself now.

The last kid I tutor is Corey*. Corey is a magnificent kid, and he is a fast learner. I love working with him especially because he’s always laughing and giggling. He loves to do sight words. When I first met him he was only doing about 20 to 30 sight words. His fluency has increased so much, he now knows more than 100 to 125 sight words. He’s improved so much at sounding out larger words than what he was able to do at the beginning of the year.

Overall, I’ve had such a great time working with my students. Every day is an adventure with these three. If it weren’t for these kids, I think I wouldn’t have considered continuing a career in early education. They inspired me to be a teacher and have shown me the importance of building a good relationship with my students. By working with them, I have learned that not only should learning be fun, you should also connect with the students beyond the lessons in the classroom.

The Valued Youth Partnership has given me so much more than a chance to work with kids and discover my passion for teaching. It has given me a remarkable teacher and a chance to be somewhat financially independent. My teacher, Mrs. Granado, has helped me every step of the way. She was excited to find out that our program was getting us personal laptops. I have never had my own laptop before, and it is the best gift I have ever received from the school. IDRA has also helped with some financial independence. I’ve gotten to open my own bank account and learn all about how to manage money. I even got to take my siblings to the movies for the very first time. I am so grateful for the opportunity that IDRA has given me. This is an experience that I will continue to cherish and value.

See color highlights flier for 2022 (pdf).

See the booklet with all the winning essays from 2022 (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.