Special Photo. Alexander Lopez, center, an 18-year-old graduate of Peachtree Ridge High School, was recently named a regional Kohl's Cares scholarship winner for his efforts in teaching English to non-native speakers.
LAWRENCEVILLE -- If you ask Alexander Lopez, there's no cookie-cutter approach to teaching English to non-native speakers.
The 18-year-old's methods depend heavily on the needs of the individual.
"One of my former students wanted to be a waitress," Lopez said. "She wanted to learn to ask people how they were doing, how their food was ... I'll often tailor my teaching approach to their individual needs."
The young man recently was named a regional scholarship winner for his volunteer teaching efforts with a Christian organization, which have spanned the past four years.
He won a $1,000 Kohl's Cares Regional Scholarship, and he will be eligible to compete as a national finalist in the department store's program.
A recent graduate of Peachtree Ridge High School, Lopez will attend Dartmouth in Hanover, N.H., beginning in September, where he hopes to learn more in his path of teaching the English language.
Mom, Scarlett Lopez, couldn't be prouder of her son.
"He works real hard," she said. "He's very committed to what he does."
For four years, the young man has met with a group of 15 to 20 non-native English speakers at Duluth First Baptist Church.
Organized through World Changers, a Christian youth group, the program gives Lopez a chance to connect every Wednesday night with the people who are in need of his help.
Lopez said people in the group range in age from 30 to 50 years old, but he's taught the English language to people in attendance as old as 90.
In a college recommendation letter written by Lopez's language arts teacher, she said she spotted the young man "as a standout from the very first day."
"Though Alex is a fantastic student, his true place is not in a desk but at the front of the room," Peachtree Ridge High School teacher Erin Lace wrote.
Lopez sees things the same way.
"It's been rewarding to teach," he said. "I've had so many students come back to me who have passed their citizenship exams and gone on to their dream jobs ... all because they were able to learn the basic skills they needed to communicate."
"It means a lot when you hear from them ... when they tell you those things."
According to its website, the Kohl's Cares Scholarship Program "recognizes and rewards young volunteers who help make their communities a better place to live."