Josh Nelson and Sabrina Padilla have been meeting once a week at Sammamish High School for the past year and a half.  Their focus has been helping Sabrina gain a better understanding of American literature and Social Studies, two of Josh’s favorite subjects.

Josh, a retiree, wanted an opportunity to give back.  He remembers great teachers in his life who mentored him – “they make a big impact on you…their caring becomes a part of who you are and the way you react to the world…I just wanted to be able to contribute to that process for anyone who needs it or wants it.”  Sabrina, a graduating senior now, decided last year that she needed a tutor because she was “struggling beyond struggling”.

In her junior year, Sabrina enrolled in an American Literature and Junior English block class.  During the whole first semester “I didn’t understand anything that was going on…I never raised my hand, I never contributed in class”.  It was too intimidating for Sabrina.  After talking with her school counselor and asking for help, she decided to start working with VIBES mentor, Josh Nelson.

Initially Josh and Sabrina met twice a week after school in the school library to help her catch up.  Together they would break down the literature and talk about it.  Sabrina says “…these discussions gave me a much deeper understanding and more confidence to participate in class…a better understanding made me braver in class…even other students started noticing”.

When asked what these sessions look like Josh says that “Sabrina comes in with something she needs help with…could be a paper or project that she’s working on, or some research she has to do, or something she has read that she needs to write a paper or commentary on..…Sabrina sets the agenda, and I help her in whatever way she wants.”

Sabrina says the one on one support has been key.  “Knowing I have someone outside of the classroom with a different perspective, with a different way of saying it, gives me a broader view of what we are actually learning.  I really love the one on one work….I can discuss my ideas and practice talking about them before going into the bigger classroom setting……these sessions have helped me develop skills that I’m probably going to take into college and beyond – breaking things down and then analyzing it for better understanding.”

Sabrina thinks students should take full advantage of tutoring opportunities.  “Don’t be afraid to ask for help, because at the end of the day, it’s just going to make things better for you.”  Josh says “…it’s been a real pleasure working with Sabrina and I admire her dedication and her discipline….she is going to do very well”.  Josh finds the work “…enormously satisfying and likes connecting with the younger people…..coming to the high school, talking with Sabrina, you realize how wonderful our youth are and it gives me a good feeling about our future.”

Did you love tutoring others in high school or college?  Do you have a passion for a specific subject and would like to share your skills and knowledge?  Are you bi-lingual and would like to help an English Language Learner acquire the skills they will need to succeed in school and later in college?

If you answered YES, to any of these questions, join the VIBES Mentor Tutor Program and make a difference in the lives of today’s youth and tomorrow’s workforce!

The VIBES Mentor Tutor Program recruits, screens and trains community volunteers to work in BSD schools supporting students and classrooms.  Volunteers work during the school day, on school campus, under staff supervision.  VIBES asks all community volunteers to commit to at least one hour per week for the duration of the school year.  Want to do more than an hour a week?  GREAT!

For more details see our website:

The Bellevue School District acknowledges that we learn, work, live and gather on the Indigenous Land of the Coast Salish peoples, specifically the Duwamish and Snoqualmie Tribes. We thank these caretakers of this land, who have lived and continue to live here, since time immemorial.