An Artist in the Making

Alexa Lawrence has been volunteering with SDRT for over 5 years. She has made a beautiful connection with the very first students she tutored at SDRT ever–three Karen sisters. In her story below, Alexa recalls a moment at tutoring when she realized that the eldest of the three sisters was an artist, writer, and aesthete. We love this story because it reveals the powerful potential within our students. They are artists, writers, chemists, dreamers, mathematicians, programmers, biologists, athletes, linguists, and beyond...

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In 9th-grade, my English teacher told the class about a tutoring program that he was involved with. As a freshman, I had thought about education as a possible career path and figured that volunteering at SDRT would be a good opportunity to gain experience with children and complete some mandatory volunteer hours. I had no idea that this organization would become such an important piece of my life.

Three Karen sisters have been my students since the first day I joined tutoring alongside my mom. Over the past 5 years, these girls have become more than just my students. They’ve become a consistent part of my life, and I am proud to be their mentor and friend. I’ve been so fortunate to have seen them develop academically and socially over time. This experience has taught me so much about the influence of educators on their students, and how much a student can actually teach their tutor.

I initially joined SDRT to meet new people and gain some valuable teaching
experience; I continue to participate in SDRT because of the close connections and genuine fun I have at each tutoring session. It’s hard to believe that if I hadn’t showed up to Ibarra Elementary 5 years ago, I would not have these wonderful little souls in my life. Needless to say, I am extremely glad I did.

Almost every session with SDRT is a special one. I constantly find myself learning something new about the students and tutors around me. On one particular day, the eldest of the three sisters and I had sat down to complete some homework for her 8th-grade English class. Her assignment was to analyze an article about a scholarship awarded to esteemed astrophysicists. She then had to write a fictional story based around this scholarship. What she had written blew me away. I felt like I was reading a New York Times Best-Selling Young Adult novel! Page after page, her characters impressively followed a planned narrative arc. After ten pages, she had even included a shocking plot twist that took me by surprise. After I finished reading her work, she gave me a look of nervousness and shyly asked if I thought it was good. I had no words, other than, “What? Is it good? It’s more than JUST good! It’s incredible!” If I had to hire anyone to write the story of my life, she would be the one.

And just to say, “I called it,” she is an up-and-coming writer and artist.

About Mimi Lee

Mimi started volunteering for SDRT in 2016 and currently serves as its Middle & High School Director. She met her husband at SDRT, and they live together in City Heights. She has her Master's in Education and teaching credential in English Language Arts.

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