Valued Youth Partnership

Monica Pando

Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program – 2015 Essay Contest

Winner: High School Third Place

View printable PDF version of this winning essay    


Mónica Pando
11th Grade, Odessa High School, Ector County ISD, Texas

Many people struggle in school because they do not understand what the teacher is explaining to them. I have always received good grades, but most of the time I did not pass because I knew the material. Everyone in class would want to sit next to me when we would take test because I was “the smart girl.” But honestly, the only reason I would pass is because the teachers would help me on the assignments. But I did not truly understand the information on the paper.

When I joined the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program, I thought it was going to be the only class I can really understand what was going on. But what I did not realize is that it was going to help me obtain strategies that will later help me absorb and retain the information my teachers are telling me.

The first semester when I walked into that fifth grade class and attempted to help my tutees with their schoolwork, it was hard! I would explain things to them, but the next day they would forget what I taught them. Then I realized they had the same problem I had. They were receiving the information, but instead of absorbing the information they would lose it. So I decided that night to research ways to help them grasp and keep the information. I would try different methods each day but nothing seemed to be helping. I got on this one website that seemed like it should help my tutees. When they were doing math, I noticed they were struggling with long division problems, so I showed them “Dead Monsters Smell Bad,” which is the steps for long division: divide, multiply, subtract, and bring down. I did not think it would help, but surprisingly it did. So I kept researching different ways to help them. One night I stayed up late making flashcards for them. It seemed to help them, so I decided to try it for myself. I made flashcards for most of my classes, and it helped me. I not only just received the information but I also knew the information that the teachers were teaching me. Since I joined the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program, I learned a new method of learning that helps me.