Six Teens Win National Essay Contest Awards
IDRA Valued Youth Partnership Program Tutors Share Stories of the Program's Impact on Their Lives
San Antonio • July 13, 2022
Six students received prizes in a national competition among participants in the IDRA Valued Youth Partnership program, a nationally-recognized cross-age tutoring program. The VYP tutors wrote about how the program helped them do better in school and how they had helped their tutees to do better.

  • First Place High School Winner - Lizbeth Rodríguez, 12th Grade, Odessa High School, Ector County ISD, Texas
  • Second Place High School Winner - Jade Hernández, 11th Grade, Odessa High School, Ector County ISD, Texas
  • Third Place High School Winner - Roslynne Ortiz, 9th Grade, Odessa High School, Ector County ISD, Texas
  • First Place Middle School Winner - Selena Tavera, 8th Grade, Dwight Middle School, South San Antonio ISD
  • Second Place Middle School Winner - Elizabeth Sauceda, 8th Grade, Dwight Middle School, South San Antonio ISD
  • Third Place Middle School Winner - Matthew Hernández, 8th Grade, Dwight Middle School, South San Antonio ISD

There were competitions at both the middle school and high school levels in the United States. Winners from each competition are being awarded $200 for first place, $150 for second place and $100 for third place along with commemorative certificates and trophies. 
Meet the VYP Essay Contest Winners 2021-22
12th Grade 
Odessa High School
Ector County ISD, Texas
Lizbeth Rodríguez
High School First Place
“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.”

11th Grade 
Odessa High School
Ector County ISD, Texas
Jade Hernández
High School Second Place
“I have come to appreciate the opportunity IDRA has given me. I have been able to connect with my tutees in a way that brings joy to my life. I love seeing the kids have a blast while working with me. I feel proud that I am actually doing something good. Being a tutor has taught me so much about children and how they learn. Seeing this in action has inspired me to be a teacher.”

9th Grade 
Odessa High School
Ector County ISD, Texas
Roslynne Ortiz
High School Third Place
“Since I became a tutor, I have grown a lot myself which is something I did not think would happen. I learned to sympathize with others’ struggles in learning and focusing on things since I now know how hard it really is. There is also this proud feeling I get from being in the IDRA Valued Youth Partnership, there is that feeling of knowing I am helping the younger generation to grow and succeed in their education and knowing that I am actively making a difference for my tutee’s education.” See Roslynne's full essay.
8th Grade
Dwight Middle School
South San Antonio ISD, Texas
Selena Tavera
Middle School First Place
“Once I joined the program and I started tutoring those little kids, it made me realize and remember why I started working hard in the first place. When I tutor them, they get so excited to see me, and they run to me with books or letter games to do with them. They are so eager to learn, and it has made me eager to learn now too, again.”

8th Grade
Dwight Middle School
South San Antonio ISD, Texas
Elizabeth Sauceda
Middle School Second Place
“I used to wake up exhausted, wanting to skip school – which I actually did out of being burnt out – and falling asleep in some of my classes, like math or English language arts. When I went to Athens to tutor, I wanted to be a role model for the students at Athens. So, I started to sleep earlier, pay attention to class, actually do some more work and started to think more positively. I even started to be happier at home and nicer to my siblings, which led to me helping them more often with homework or in little projects for school.”
8th Grade
Dwight Middle School
South San Antonio ISD, Texas
Matthew Hernández
Middle School Third Place
“What tutoring means to me is a lot more than some job that I have been hired to do. It is more special than that. It provides me with the opportunity to bond and help children who do not understand subjects like math and/or reading. Even if I was not being paid, I would still volunteer to help because I like to see the tutees grow and learn to finally understand what did not make sense before.”

Valued Youth Partnership helps students
build their socio-emotional skills
The IDRA Valued Youth Partnership has provided leadership experiences for students all over the country. It increases students’ connectedness, academic achievement, self-efficacy and self-esteem by placing students in leadership positions.  

The Valued Youth Partnership’s key philosophy of valuing youth’s gifts and developing social skills can provide leadership experiences for students who most need engagement. 

The IDRA Valued Youth Partnership has demonstrated tremendous success helping students focus on their education and increasing the school's holding power by concentrating on students with the highest need of support. For almost four decades, VYP has kept 35,000 students in school and positively impacted the lives of 750,000 children, families and educators!
The IDRA Valued Youth Partnership directly addresses socio-emotional factors that are essential to reconnecting and re-engaging with students.

In unprecedented times such as these, schools and districts need a partner with a record of proven success, because all children are valuable, none is expendable.

Join the VYP school-family-community partnership.
When you do, every student can go beyond 
See our video overview of how the IDRA Valued Youth Partnership Program impacts students and schools. 
Learn more about the Valued Youth Partnership
Ready to bring the VYP experience to your school?
Contact IDRA today to learn how to get started!
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IDRA is an independent, non-profit organization. Our mission is to achieve equal educational opportunity for every child through strong public schools that prepare all students to access and succeed in college.