Valued Youth Partnership

Lizbeth Rodríguez – 2022 First Place High School Essay Winner

Lizbeth Rodríguez

12th Grade, Odessa High School, Odessa, Texas

Life Impact: IDRA

The impact that a single student can have on another is amazing. Being a senior and being able to teach and watch my first-grade tutees grow and learn has given me an enormous sense of accomplishment. They have shown me that my career path is teaching, and they have been the ones teaching me also. Not only that but also, I have been trying to get into this program since I was a first-year student in high school, I always wanted to be able to start my dream of teaching, but the program was always full. Finally, in my senior year, that dream came true, and I was genuinely excited.

The IDRA program has impacted lots of lives because of the opportunities they give students like me. The amazing opportunity of giving us a salary to help us out and the free laptops to be used for college is an amazing gift, and I am super grateful for it. However, not only does the IDRA Valued Youth Partnership program impact us by giving us tools and resources but also allows us the opportunity to be able to follow our career path, do what we love and figure ourselves out. I have always struggled to find my passion and find a career that I would love for the rest of my life. Being able to sit down with tutees and help them and teach them has assured me of my path. The impact I am having on their lives is as big as the impact they are having on mine. Every time I walk into their classroom and see their excitement to come with me, to read or work on math brings me so much joy. It shows me that they are happy to learn with me and that I am doing my best to help them and motivate them.

My first tutee to meet was Sophia.* She is a very bright little girl. She loves math and works hard to get her spelling right. She is outgoing and always tries to be the leader of the group. My second tutee was Emily*. She always wants to be called Emi. She is a girly girl that also loves math and is a big talker. She is a social butterfly, but she is incredibly open to learning anything. If she has a difficult day, she openly tells me how she feels, and we try to work through it. My last tutee is Remi*. She is also a big talker, but she is not a huge fan of math, and she does love reading. She is always adding a new name that she finds beautiful to her name.

All my little girls are so unique in their own way which just makes everything more exciting to me. Knowing that every time we meet, they will have a new story to tell me. I am overly blessed to have these beautiful little girls to start with. Everything in this program has been so amazing and full of memories.

My teacher for VYP has also guided me through every step and any question I have. If sometimes I was stuck on how to correctly keep a connection with my tutees, she has helped me because she has a connection with us. So, it just makes the program for me one hundred percent more comfortable to be around.

On the first day of school walking into her class and being her only student was nerve-racking because how did no one know about this program. From my experience, I have been trying to find a spot since my first year of high school. I knew this program was going to help me find my career path. I have always feared making the wrong decision on a career and having the pressure of my parents on always being an A student and not making mistakes. Also, we are not a wealthy family, and that is another reason I was extremely thankful for the computer. But everyone knows college is not cheap and wasting my parents’ money over me making a mistake about my career is something I can prevent.

Being able to take this class in my last year of high school was the best decision I ever made. It amazed me to see my growth from when I just started this class until now. All the impacts in my life it has made me proud to say I am a part of the IDRA Valued Youth Partnership. It is going to be a sad day to have to let go of my tutees because they were my first students, but I made a promise to them to come back to teach them in high school and keep seeing them grow. From all the laughs we had, to me bringing them small gifts just to see the smiles on their faces brightens up my day. Even on their bad days, with them being able to trust me, I was able to help them through the tough times.

The VYP program has been a wonderful experience. My tutees have been angels to help me grow as a future teacher and bring a smile to my face, to even my teacher being helpful and guiding me to my future of being a teacher and shaping me to be one. Overall, the impact it has been on my life is amazing, and I have no idea what I would do without this program and my tutees from the laughter, the stress, and the good days and bad days will always have an impact and a place in my heart.

*name changed for privacy

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.