Valued Youth Partnership

Isaac Mata 2011

Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program – 2011 Essay Contest

Winner: Middle School First Place

Isaac Mata
7th grade, Ann W. Richards Middle School, La Joya, Texas

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How the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program Has Helped Me

It all began five months ago. I was sitting in my class doing what I usually do. All of a sudden, Mrs. Moreno said, “Isaac one of your electives is now V.Y.P.” Then I asked, “What’s that?” Mrs. Moreno told me, “You will be working with little kids at the elementary.” I said, “No.” I have two nephews, and they bother me. Mrs. Moreno insisted by saying, “Give it a try.” “Ok, Mrs. Moreno,” I said. When I got home, I began to think about it some more, and this is when I decided to join it. I could not sleep that night, I was so excited! I could not wait to start my new experience.

As I was sitting on the bus on my way to the elementary school, I began to feel super nervous because I didn’t know anyone, and I have only been in the United States for two years and was afraid my English wasn’t that good. As soon as we got to the elementary school, I asked Mrs. Cuevas what I needed to do. She told me, “You need to help the students and work super hard.” “Ok,” I said. When I entered in the classroom, all the pre-kinder students looked at me like I was an alien. This made me feel even more nervous. I was thinking, “Crazy kids!” This is going to be boring!

Then, the Mrs. Cuevas assigned a little tiny guy as my student for the year. His name is Josue*. Mrs. Cuevas started talking with the student, then I started working with my student. At first, he misbehaved a lot! I got upset often because the little guy didn’t want to do his work. Then, it was time to go back to the school. When I got to my house, my nephew started to remind me of the little student. I went to bed early because I was getting upset with my nephew and was exhausted from school.

I went to school the next day feeling very worried because I was thinking about what might happen with the little student that day.

When, I went to the elementary school, I told my student that, if he did his work, everything was going to be easy. My student asked me, “Is that true?” “Yea,” I said, “If only you do your work.” “Hmm, Ok,” he said. I started feeling better because my student seemed to understand, and he started behaving. Every day, the little guy got better at his schoolwork and began to look forward for me to go to help him. I also began to like teaching him. I even took him a present for Christmas and missed helping him with his schoolwork during the vacation.

As the days passed by, my nephews didn’t bother me as much anymore. I was learning to control my temper. I started looking forward to going to the elementary school to help the little guy. I no longer felt nervous or upset. I know I could help this student be a better student.

Payday arrived! I was feeling excited to get my first paycheck! The money helped me tremendously because I could now buy the things that I needed, for example school materials and shoes, and, more importantly, I could finally buy my glasses to see better. Having my glasses now is going to help me do better in my classes. I could also help my family with money. Yes, I enjoy the money, but the money is not the most important thing. The future of my student is more important than anything else. I want my student be the number one in everything. Now, my student is better at school than before. I feel so excited every day when I go to school because my student is learning a lot, and I learned how to be calmer with kids, my family and my friends. I feel I have grown in many ways. I am very grateful to the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program for giving me this opportunity. I am now more helpful, understanding, responsible and patient.

I know now that I can help my family and others who need money. I don’t want to go back to the way things were before. I only want to become even better at helping others. I signed up to help a student with his schoolwork, but in the end he helped me become a better person.

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 32,000 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 721,000 children, families and educators have been positively impacted by the program. Contact IDRA for more information or see the program website.