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Valued Youth Partnership

Vince Alindogan – 2019 First Place Middle School Essay Winner

IDRA Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program – 2019 Essay Contest

Vince Alindogan

7th Grade, New Open World Academy, Los Angeles USD, California

Since I Became a Tutor

When I was first introduced to the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program and heard that it involved tutoring elementary students, I was nervous and doubtful since I was terrible with working with younger kids. I couldn’t even help my 9-year-old sister, Sondra*, with her homework without getting impatient or frustrated. I was hesitant until I was told that there was a semesterly stipend. After hearing that, I was eager to tutor. Little did I know, there’s more than the money that I’d obtain from this program. Since I became a tutor in the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program, I’ve become a better person and learned a few things along the way.

The Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program showed me a glimpse of how challenging it is to be on the other side of education and become the teacher. Teachers deserve substantially more appreciation and respect than they get, since they’re building our future. I know first-hand that it can be difficult to teach. Their income isn’t high for everything they do for us. From this program, I’ve learned that teachers and mentors aren’t in it for the money. Instead, they’re passionate and dedicated people who care about us, the students, and our future. And this is exactly how I feel about my tutees, Amy and Jordan*.

It’s a great feeling when my tutees say “Ohhh” as it shows me that they were listening and care about their work. Their attention and diligence of their classwork is the most rewarding part of tutoring and is why I continue to tutor. Before I started tutoring, I already had tons of respect for teachers. But after tutoring for a few months, my respect for them increased even more, and I try to be the best student I can be since I now know teachers are here to help us and want us to return the favor by listening attentively and respecting them.

Before the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program, I was an impatient person. I was always annoyed whenever my sister didn’t understand her homework the first time I explained it to her. This program gave me a chance to practice my patience. At first, it was frustrating trying to teach the math concepts in a way my tutees would understand without giving them the answers. It took me several weeks to be able to tutor them without giving up and just saying the answers without any explanation. Now, after a few months of tutoring and practicing my patience, I’m able to help my tutees and give them a better understanding of their assignments. I can now help my sister with her homework without feeling annoyed or frustrated. Thanks to this program, I’ve become a much more patient person. Having patience is not only necessary in teaching young students, but in everyday life. The Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program has made me an exponentially more patient person.

Before tutoring, I was never interested in a career in education. I thought that teaching would be a terrible experience of disobedient children crying, screaming and yelling. This program opened my eyes and showed me that it’s so much more rewarding and enjoyable. My tutees are curious and intelligent students, and I always look forward to working with them. It was a great experience watching them grow and learn new things. And because of how outstanding my overall experience has been, I may even consider a career in education. It’s fascinating how only a few months in the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program drastically shifted my views on education and teaching.

Although I’m sad that I might not be able to see my tutees after the end of this school year, I’m glad that I got the amazing opportunity to be in this program. It’s made me a better person and taught me valuable things that will help me later on in life.

* names changed for privacy


See color highlights flier for 2019 (pdf).

See the booklet with all the winning essays from 2019 (pdf).

The IDRA Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program 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.