New Tutorial Center Coordinator Esmeralda Paredes welcomes everyone with open arms


Nayeon Kim

New Tutorial Center Coordinator Esmeralda Paredes sits at her desk as she supervises students.

Esmeralda Paredes, the new Los Altos High School tutorial center coordinator, started her tutoring career like the peer tutors she now works with — as a high school student.

Paredes’s introduction to tutoring came early, when her mother told her how she was struggling in an English as a Second Language (ESL) class she was taking at a local adult school. Hearing about their limited access to teachers, Paredes visited the school and started working with the students to help them earn their high school diplomas. After seeing the way tutoring could change someone’s situation, it has become integral to Paredes’s life.

“I was really raised with the idea that education is important,” Paredes said. “So that’s why I think I became so passionate about it, and that’s why I’m here.”

Since high school, her passion for tutoring has only grown, pushing her to be the first in her family to go to college and tutor for the San Diego State University athletic department. However, Parades initially found it hard to adapt to university life, struggling with statistics in particular.

“I failed my first quarter and I was overwhelmed,” Paredes said. “I went to tutoring and I got it once a week and it completely changed the game. So I’ve seen the difference it can make.”

The pandemic struck while Parades was finishing her senior year of college, forcing her and the rest of the class of 2020 to graduate online. While quarantining, Parades was able to continue helping her peers by working on a project called the Retention Support Project. She worked with the Latinx Resource Center at SDSU to connect students with resources on campus during the pandemic. Most recently, she worked in the education department of a nonprofit organization in Pescadero, California.

When she saw the job opening at Los Altos High School for a position that fit her goals and work experience, she had to apply.

“I felt like it just encapsulated all of my experiences,” Paredes said. “Everything I’ve done felt like it had led me up to this position in a way.”

Her mother supported her through it all, encouraging her to apply for the tutorial center coordinator position.

“My mom is probably my biggest fan,” she said. “I remember when I found this job posting, I told her I think this really fits into my values and goals, and she was super supportive — I love my mom.”

As the new tutorial center coordinator, Paredes is looking to get more students coming through the doors. Peer tutors are still being sent to classrooms, but Paredes also wants to focus on making the tutorial center a more open and welcoming space for students.

“I’m trying to get more students to come in and get the help they need or even just relax, do their homework here,” Paredes said. “I want as many students to come in as possible.”

But the tutorial center starts with the tutors first. Paredes has been training the tutors, using her previous experience to guide the strategies and tutoring scenarios they work through.

“I think because I’ve been a tutor myself, it’s helped me plan out how I want to train the tutors,” Paredes said. “I’m just trying to give them as much information and training to make them feel comfortable. I keep reminding them it’s going to be okay because I wish someone would have told me that.”

The tutorial center is open to any student that needs help, and Paredes has been working to develop a detailed schedule so that students know when tutors for different subjects are available. Meanwhile, she hopes that students will check out the tutorial center and make it come alive.

“This space is for students,” Paredes said. “Come in. You’re welcome here. We want you here and that’s what we’re here for.”