Month: September 2015

Sep 29

Ask A Tutor Tuesday! – 9/29/2015

Question: Dear Ask a Tutor,

I’ve been tutoring a 3rd grade student for about 2 months now. We meet at 6:00pm on Wednesdays. Every session she seems to be really tired, and it’s challenging to get her engaged. I’m not sure what to do, so any help would be appreciated.

Thank you,


In my whole duration of being a tutor at School On Wheels, I’ve often tutored during those same hours or even a bit later. There are a few things you want to keep in mind:

  1. The student may have just come home from school. This can be a tiring ordeal. It was for some of my students, who were still attending their former schools to give them a sense of comfort and normalcy through a tough situation. These schools tended to be further away, and students could only reach school via public transit. Sometimes students might be splitting time between family members or parents, etc. For many reasons, their days–even after school–can be demanding and tiring. Oftentimes, the parents have to take their children everywhere with them, and students run many important and timely errands with their parents. The parents have a lot to worry about as well, and their children have to endure that too.
  2. The student’s meal times are either limited or strictly scheduled. Ever since I’ve noticed this fact, I’ve tried my best to cater to this. If they are in a shelter, most likely the shelter strictly observes when meals are served and other matters concerning food. I make sure that my tutoring hour never coincides with whenever the shelter serves lunch or dinner. I also try to make sure that the student has a break, maybe 30 minutes to relax, before I arrive. I want to give them some time to unwind and eat.

Sometimes, I may bring a snack for my students, but only with the parent’s permission. That usually wakes them up. Nonetheless, I strongly suggest that you politely bring up your concerns with the parent(s) and see if you can work out a new time or day that works for both of you. You can start by saying “S/he looks very tired around this time…Should we change the time/day to _____?” I It’s always good to be a little flexible in those matters and with time. I found that when I made my arrival time a bit later, the student had eaten and had enough time to relax, and they seemed well-energized during our session.

However, if your time is fixed around a busy schedule, maybe think of fun tasks for the student in the beginning to wake them up? You could try talking about something your student finds fun or interesting. If my student is talkative, we usually begin with a chat before work. Good luck, I hope this helped.


About the tutor: Timesia Garcia is a dedicated volunteer, passionate about helping others. She studies sociology at a local community college and has been tutoring with School on Wheels for almost two years.

Have a question for our Ask a Tutor feature?
Email askatutor [at] or use the #AskATutor hashtag on any of our social media sites.

Sep 28


v2vimage w sow logo

School on Wheels has been chosen to participate in the CBS “Volunteering with the Stars” Initiative and will be featured on the new “Viewers to Volunteers” App which gives the public the chance to support the causes and nonprofits they love best, without spending their own money.


v2v logoFor more information on the many benefits of the app and how to download it click here!


Sep 25

Charles Evans, Regional Director

charlesWhy/When/Where did you start working with volunteers?

Volunteers are the heart and soul of School on Wheels. School on Wheels volunteers work throughout Southern California to remove the barriers that stand between homeless children and their education. Our tutoring program stands at the center of our work: our volunteers come from all backgrounds and professions to teach, mentor, and assist the educational life of a homeless child. Once they have been through their online orientation and our additional training (designed to maximize the impact of their time with the children), volunteers are carefully matched with a homeless child with whom they meet at least once per week. This one-on-one time provides the highest impact of all our work; it constitutes the core of our focus.  Last year, these amazing volunteers provided more than 95,000 hours of focused educational support to 3,129 homeless children. Approximately 300 of these students met their tutors at our Skid Row Learning Center, some 2,800 more had their tutors come to where they live in a service area that, while concentrated in Los Angeles County, spans more than 2,500 square miles.

What do you enjoy most about working with volunteers?

Volunteer tutors are positive role models who provide consistency and educational assistance to a homeless child through weekly one-on-one tutoring. School on Wheels is a volunteer based organization that seeks out committed people who are passionate about social justice and equality for all. A person engaged in volunteering with School on Wheels will benefits from increased self-confidence in their power as an individual to influence change and inspire others. Our volunteers act as a bridge between organizations and the communities that we serve and can inspire change in behavior and attitude in a wider group. They encourage the collective responsibility that enables solid outcomes, such as stability and consistency for the homeless students that we serve.

How has VolunteerMatch helped you to recruit volunteers?

It takes an enormous amount of work to attract, train, manage and retain more than 1,800 tutors and supervise more than 95,000 volunteer hours over the course of a year! Volunteer Match gave us an opportunity to have continuous recruiting of new volunteers throughout Southern California, while allowing us the time to focus our efforts on volunteer management, retention and support.


School on Wheels began in 1993 when Agnes Stevens, a recent retiree who had spent 30 years of her life as a schoolteacher, read a book that changed her life.  The book was about homeless families in the U.S.  Agnes was shocked to learn that hundreds of thousands of children were homeless (a figure that has since surged to 1.6 million) and that many of them did not attend school.  She learned that there were many other barriers that stood between these children and their education and that they needed a wide range of specialized services to remove those barriers – they needed help getting back into school, they needed help in catching up on the subjects they missed, they needed help accessing uniforms and supplies.  Unfortunately, because of their circumstances, homeless children often have no one in their lives who can help them access these services (at a time when a family’s focus is on basic needs like shelter and food, it can be difficult to pay attention to things that don’t seem to ensure survival – like a child’s  education and future).  Agnes began teaching homeless children in a park in Santa Monica, encouraging them to stay in school and keep up with their grades and school activities – and recruiting others to join her.


Sep 22

Yom Kippur – Joyful Thanks

Yom Kippur is the holiest day in the Jewish Calendar. We thought it would be fitting to give special thanks to all our donors, supporters, volunteers, staff, and friends that observe this special day.

Every year we receive thousands of backpacks and school supplies that are sorted and filled by congregations throughout Southern California.  Many temples, day schools and social action committees organize fundraising events for School on Wheels and the homeless children that we serve or offer their time and talents as volunteers for School on Wheels.

This day is the most solemn of the year for Jewish people; yet there is an undertone of joy that suffuses it, a joy that revels in the spirituality of the day. We are so thankful and filled with joy that we can consider the following among our wonderful donors and friends:

Temple Judea
Heschel Day School
Congregation Shir Amir
The Haupt Group
Kehillat Israel Early Childhood Center
Temple Isaiah Preschool
Congregation Tikvat Jacob
Burbank Temple Emanu El
Temple Ramat Zion
Temple Etz Chaim
Temple Beth Hillel
Congregation B’nai B’nai
Temple Isaiah (Golden Sun Kids)
Temple Aliyah
Hehillay Israel (Early Childhood Center)


Sep 22

Ask A Tutor Tuesday! – 9/22/2015

Question: My question is about student behavior and if you frequently come across destructive behavior or behavior that shows students don’t want to be there. How do you deal with that, especially with the older kids?


Hi Jonathan,

Great question. There are definitely times when students, especially older students, might appear uninterested in tutoring. Actual physically destructive behavior is very uncommon. The best thing to do with an unengaged student is to find out what they want to learn. This way, they are helping to lead the tutoring session rather than being just a passive participant. Students who are engaged are also much less likely to act out.

First, simply ask them what they want to learn. My student wanted to learn cursive even though Common Core says no. We worked on it together, and now she has very nice handwriting. She also wanted to learn about elephants, so we wrote to the elephant rescue in Hohenwald, Tennessee. Writing topics can be anything. Think outside the box and bring interesting lessons to your sessions. For example, teach your student to count in Chinese or another language. We all like to feel smart and learn something most people do not know. If your student says everything at school is boring, that is just because they are not getting to the good stuff in the subject. For example, no one ever said ‘foot-binding’ is boring. Take them out of their comfort zone. From foot-binding it is not a far stretch to teach them about the Silk Road. You might also try trivia to set an interesting tone for the session, e.g. ” What very fat American president got stuck in a bathtub in the White House?”

Last, if you would like tips on tutoring older students or students in a group home, School on Wheels has some great resources in their workshops, for example, this one on Tackling Teens. The most important thing you can do is build a bond with your student, no matter their age, so that they trust and respect you from the beginning.

Hope this helped.


About the tutor: Pat Bayha has been tutoring with School on Wheels for over a year, and also tutors at Tuba City Boarding School on the Navajo Reservation. She is a former teacher with the Montebello Unified School District and has many years of experience teaching in inner city high schools, including advanced placement students and bilingual learners.

Have a question for our Ask a Tutor feature?
Email askatutor [at] or use the #AskATutor hashtag on any of our social media sites.

Sep 17

Bringing EdTech to Your Tutoring Sessions

(Note: there is an echo for the first few minutes, but the audio is clear following this)

Curious about using technology in your tutoring but aren’t sure where to start? In this workshop, School on Wheels digital learning staff shows you how to integrate technology into your tutoring sessions to enhance your student’s learning experience. First, get started with one of the easiest ways to help your student by using our list of 20+ apps, which target specific skill areas by grade and subject. Next, learn how to use our adaptive learning program to track your student’s progress, find personalized worksheets to use during your tutoring sessions, and improve your student’s academic performance by a whole grade level. Finally, learn about online tutoring and how you can utilize it to connect with your student wherever you are, so that your schedule or location never gets in the way of helping your student.

Digital Learning Program Guide (PDF)

About the Presenters:

Sarah Ikemoto, Digital Learning Center Specialist; Ian Chan, Digital Learning Coordinator; Alisa Lemke, Digital Learning Support; Matt Raab, Program Director