Valued Youth Partnership

Michelle Ramos – 2023 First Place Middle School Essay Winner

Michelle RamosMichelle Ramos

8th Grade, Abraham Kazen Middle School, San Antonio  How tutoring has helped me…

This year, I have been honored to be a part of the IDRA Valued Youth Partnership (VYP). This program has helped me in so many ways from motivating me to come to school to helping me become a better speaker in every way possible. Before I started tutoring, I didn’t have a reason to come to school. I had no motivation to be here, but tutoring has given me a reason.

This program has not only made this school year more memorable, but it has also helped me make friends that will last a lifetime. It has helped me realize that there is so much more to life than just being alone, this program has helped me. Let me explain how.

When I first started this school year, I thought it was going to be the same as last year. I thought I would have the same friends and classmates. Little did I know that it was going to be far from that. This school year started off as any other year would, but what I didn’t know was that one class would change my life forever.

This class was my third period, also known as the period where I would become a tutor for one of the best programs at my school, the IDRA Valued Youth Partnership (VYP) program. At the time I heard about this program, I was confused, simply because I didn’t know such a program existed. I was also honored when I found out what this program was about. I was honored that the people in charge of this program chose me to be one of the biggest influences on a child’s life.

Upon entering Palo Alto Elementary for the first time, I was greeted with warm, kind-hearted smiles. I took a moment to look around and realize that every moment I spent in that class or simply with the incredible students there would change my life. However, I also wanted to change the lives of the children there. I knew right away how wonderful my tutees would be when I first started working with them. I saw their potential and was motivated to make a difference in their lives.

The potential these children possess is well beyond what words can express. Ever since we started working together, my objective has been to make a difference in my tutees’ lives, even if it is only a small one. I wanted my students to understand that they have potential and that I was willing to work with them to reach it. Even though it might have appeared impossible, I wanted them to realize that everything was possible.

Despite the fact that I was meant to be the one to change their perspective on the world, they also assisted me. When I began working one-on-one with my tutees, I realized I would have to leave my comfort zone because remaining closed off wouldn’t aid either myself or my tutees in this learning process.

This learning process taught me and my students that speaking up was necessary if we wanted something known. For instance, when we had to introduce ourselves on the first day I worked with them, I could see right away who was hesitant and who wasn’t, so I began by introducing myself and sharing a few things I enjoy doing. As I did this, I could tell that they had a little more faith in me, which also gave them the confidence to speak up. The tutees became more confident as time went on and so did I.

When I started encouraging my tutees, I saw their confidence level rise each time. As an example, I can proudly say that one day in class my tutees were doing a quiz. This quiz was on the identification of letters and the sounds they make. I was grading their papers when I realized that all my tutees got 100. This was an amazing accomplishment for them because at the very beginning they couldn’t identify which sounds went with each letter. When I passed their papers back, they all looked at me in disbelief. They couldn’t believe that they had accomplished such a thing. After they realized that it wasn’t a joke, their faces lit up and they were as happy as they could be. Seeing this on their face made me unbelievably happy. It made me happy because when I think back at my younger self, I didn’t have anyone who congratulated me for my accomplishments. No one was happy for me. And now I realize that me being their tutor and congratulating them will help them feel better about themselves and will help them be even more confident.

My tutees are nothing less than incredible, these kids are amazing in a way that words cannot explain. I can proudly say that I have not only been honored to be a part of this program but that I have also been honored with the opportunity to be around these kids and change their lives for the better.

I want to give one last thanks to those who have believed in me and given me the opportunity to change not only my life but my tutees’ lives for the better.

This program will forever be one of the most meaningful parts of my life, and I am grateful to have been able to be a part of it. It has changed my life in plenty of positive ways, and I know that I have changed my tutees’ lives too. At last, I can very proudly say that I have accomplished my goal of changing their lives and becoming a big influence to them. My tutees now know that they have a friend for life and that I am willing to help them accomplish their goal and, as long as they know that, my goal has been accomplished.

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.