Month: November 2015

Nov 2

Trick-or-Treating on Skid Row

On Friday, October 30, the boys and girls of the Skid Row Learning Center dressed as princesses and super heroes alongside many other characters to trick-or-treat around the center. School on Wheels partnered with local businesses surrounding the Learning Center who handed out candy to our students. 110 staff and volunteers dressed in colorful clothing including 72 students. In the Skid Row community where most children don’t get the chance to participate in the activities most kids love, our students were given the opportunity to join in the festivities of Halloween like any other child.

Check out the news coverage showing photos from the event!

•Reuters Skid Row Halloween

•The Guardian Halloween celebrations around the world–in pictures

•The Tribune Watch the dead come alive

•CBS News Scary, silly Halloween costumes 2015

•NBC News Halloween Costumes Get Creative from a Papal Pup to a Surfing Lobster

•MSN News Skid Row Halloween

Nov 2

November 2015 Newsletter

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”
Albert Schweitzer

I have always loved the Thanksgiving holiday, but never truly appreciated it until I became a volunteer for School on Wheels. Like most people, I thought of Thanksgiving as filled with food, family, and friends. Now when I think of Thanksgiving, I reflect on the words…thanks and giving. I never felt the true power of gratitude and giving until I saw what your support, encouragement and generosity have done for thousands of homeless children in our communities. Because of you, a kindergartner can learn to read; because of you, a fifth grader will be able to go to school because she has a uniform and a brand new backpack; because of you, a high school student can solve a complex problem with his very own tutor.

We celebrate this time of giving thanks and are grateful that we have friends like you whose compassion and generosity allow us to reach out to the ever-increasing number of homeless students in our communities.  Please know how much we value your continued support. Thank you most of all for the hope you have given to our homeless students so that they too can have a chance for success through education.

With gratitude and admiration,

Catherine signature
Catherine Meek
Executive Director

Click here to see more from our November Newsletter

Nov 2

Tutors of the Month – November 2015

Region 2 – South LA

– Jon Hammond-Hagan. Jon made a video describing his tutoring experience with School on Wheels. In the video, Jon says that he can honestly say that he can see the positive impact that School on Wheels has on all of the students he has worked with. Thank you for your dedication, Jon!

Region 4 – South Bay, Long Beach

Sara Chisholm, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Sara Chisholm. I originally joined School on Wheels in February 2014 to fulfill my New Year’s resolution which was to start volunteering on a regular basis. I came across School on Wheels in a Google search and thought it had a great mission, carried out by dedicated people. My first session, which was group tutoring at a shelter, was chaotic (in a good way), fun and inspiring. I was nervous about my capabilities and how students would respond to me, but they were so excited to have some individual help and attention that my apprehensions dissipated. I enjoyed working with the little kids on their coloring and with middle schoolers on their algebra. I saw glimpses of progress even though I never knew who would be at the shelter that evening or when the families would be gone. Since those first sessions, I’ve become more confident as a tutor, and I’ve been inspired by the students’ perseverance and determination to learn despite their stark disadvantages. I feel lucky to be part of this group of tutors and students fighting against the cycle of poverty for a brighter future.

Louis Mena, Regional Coordinator

Region 5 – Hollywood, Silver Lake, Highland Park

Olivia Scott, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Olivia Scott. Olivia has been with School on Wheels for a year now and she has definitely been a joy to have on our team! I absolutely love her enthusiasm and dedication. She is now working with her third student and has definitely had a positive impact in each of her students’ lives. When she is not busy tutoring, she dances, models and acts. A HUGE thank you to you, Olivia, for being a part of School on Wheels! We really can’t exist without great tutors like you!

In her words: Having grown up with a mother who is a grade school teacher, I appreciate the importance of education in relation to a person’s success in life. My mother always tries to build children’s self esteem by being respectful and by keeping things light. After living in LA for a few years, I realized that I needed to get more involved in the community. What better way than working with children? I have fun and learn something every week that I work with Chris. I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to work as a School On Wheels tutor.

Lancella Hunter, Regional Coordinator

Region 7 – San Fernando Valley

Sam Miller, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Sam Miller. Sam is an amazing tutor! He is energetic, enthusiastic and quickly bonds with his students. Since Sam started tutoring, he has taken on more responsibilities. As a tutor he meets consistently with his student, always logs his hours and improves his student’s education! Over time Sam has volunteered more and is now a Tutor Coordinator who helps me make tutor/student matches, facilitates first sessions and works with the database. Needless to say, Sam is a fantastic volunteer and I am so happy he started tutoring with School on Wheels!

In his words: I migrated to North Hollywood from the frozen and deserted land of South Dakota three years ago. I spend most of my day chasing around my six month old Lhasa/Terrier dog named Addison. With the time that’s left, I manage musicians, play in a band, and try to write novels. I got involved with School on Wheels six months ago when I found the organization online, and since have tutored two awesome students in Pacoima named Steven and Dominic.

Brianna Grothe, Regional Coordinator

Region 8 – Ventura County

Amanda Evans, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Amanda Evans. I knew Amanda was going to be an awesome tutor when she showed up to her first session with a tote bag full of materials, crayons, books, and assessments! Amanda heard about School On Wheels through her supervisor at Ventura County Credit Union, who has also been a volunteer tutor for three years. While participating in Ventura County Leadership Academy, Amanda began to explore social issues facing Ventura County. As Amanda researched the issue of homelessness within our county, she was reminded of the volunteer tutor opportunities her supervisor had shared with her. Before becoming a School on Wheels tutor, Amanda, along with the marketing department at Ventura County Credit Union, helped organize a school supplies drive two years in a row. After applying to become a volunteer tutor, Amanda says, “I was nervous because I didn’t know what to expect. After going through the tutor training, I felt more confident about it, but I was still anxious to know what tutoring was going to be like. I was nervous and excited at the same time! I really wanted to do a great job.” I admire Amanda’s enthusiasm for making tutoring fun and engaging for Joshua by incorporating art and educational apps, which are his favorite! Amanda says that Joshua does his homework on the bus, just so they can spend the hour focusing on fun tutoring activities.

Amanda, from the beginning, you have put Joshua’s needs at the forefront. You have gone above and beyond and I want to thank you for giving 100% to being a tutor!

Terrie Soto, Regional Coordinator

Region 12 – North Orange County

Ryan Hsieh, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Ryan Hsieh. Ryan has been a tutor with School On Wheels for six months. He brings passion, understanding, fun, and patience to each of his sessions. But not only does he go above and beyond for his student every week, he has recruited new tutors from his high school for School On Wheels. Thanks to Ryan, there are many more tutors supporting homeless children’s education throughout Orange County.

In his words: As a little kid, I really enjoyed helping my peers in school. It brought me a sense of achievement when everything suddenly made sense for the other person. Throughout my high school career and experience in Key Club, I have been fortunate enough to interact with homeless people on several occasions. I have learned that they are intelligent and loving people, just like everyone else, but without opportunities that many take for granted. Schools On Wheels [has been a] perfect opportunity to give back to the community while also allowing me to love the experience.

Laura Schickling, Regional Coordinator

Online Tutoring

Manasvi Pinnamaneni, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Manasvi Pinnamaneni. Manasvi currently tutors four students online. Her commitment to her students as well as the amount of detail and care she pours into preparing for and teaching her lessons are inspiring. We are truly fortunate to have Manasvi on our team, and her students are lucky to learn from her each week.

In her words: I wanted to tutor to become engaged in my community and to use my education to help others pursue theirs. Online tutoring allowed me to accommodate this into my irregular schedule. I am currently working with four students, each learning different topics and requiring unique lesson plans. In every session, we try to approach learning in a way that incites curiosity and critical thinking, skills that will last them throughout their lives. One of my goals is to establish a comfortable and stable learning environment. While this is a more difficult task over the distance of the internet, I feel that it is a crucial part of making education rewarding. One of my students, Cassie at a shelter for youth, really helped me feel that my efforts were worthwhile. When she let me know that her tutoring session was one of the highlights of her week, I felt incredibly lucky to be able to provide this kind of academic setting. Every day that I work with my students, I am grateful to be a part of their education. Tutoring has never felt like an obligation to me, rather something to look forward to. I learn a lot from my students, and they help me broaden my worldview and challenge me to be better.

Ian, the Digital Learning Coordinator at School on Wheels does an excellent job of supporting the online tutors with important updates, tutoring tips and strategies, learning resources, and just being available to us for support. Also, the online tutoring platform is very easy to use.

Ian Chan, Digital Learning Coordinator

Nov 2

Students of the Month – November 2015

Region 2 – South LA

– Briana. In Part 2 of Jon’s video, he talks about tutoring Briana, who is always excited and waiting patiently for her sessions to begin. It’s match-ups like this that makes us all proud to be part of School on Wheels.

Region 4 – South Bay, Long Beach

Jeremiah, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Jeremiah, 6th Grade. Jeremiah would be any teacher’s ideal pupil. Though relatively quiet and serious, his witticisms and bursts of silliness always make me laugh. The first thing I noticed about him was his ease with doing calculations in his head. He loves math and could spend the whole hour on Khan Academy if I let him. When we met, Jeremiah was already a straight-A student! Since he doesn’t seem as challenged by his school work as he could be, we do activities that exercise his imagination. At first, when I gave him some out-of-the-box thinking to do, I took his quiet staring into space as frustration or disinterest. Now, I just wait for inspiration to hit him and for him to crack a smile before he says, “Ooh, I know!” His high-achieving ways have taught me to be more creative with our sessions, and I have also learned from him that there is never just one right answer.

Sara Chisholm, Tutor

Region 5 – Hollywood, Silver Lake, Highland Park

Chris, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Chris, 5th grade. Chris and I have been working together for two school years. He is an absolute joy to work with and is always prepared to do his work. Chris is a very intelligent young man with great listening skills. Some of my favorite moments with him have been after his homework is complete. He loves to draw comic book characters and then he tells me the entire life story of the character. Chris is a talented artist with a wonderful imagination. I have learned to appreciate the thought and creativity that goes into creating comics thanks to Chris!

Olivia Scott, Tutor

Region 7 – San Fernando Valley

Dominic, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Dominic, Kindergarten. Dominic is a lively, happy, playful kindergartner living in Reseda. He’s five years old and just started school a few months ago, but has taken to it like a fish takes to water. When he’s not pouring over his reading materials, he’s outside, skateboarding, scootering, or playing soccer. He’s a great learner, a hard worker, and, as of this month, a big brother!

Sam Miller, Tutor

Region 8 – Ventura County

Joshua, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Joshua, 2nd Grade. Joshua is a smart, artistic and fun second grader who brightens up my day each week during our tutoring sessions. Right before school started, Joshua had to face some pretty big obstacles for someone so young. After having undergone a corrective surgery on both of his legs, he remained positive and never let a wheelchair or casts on each leg slow him down. Despite these challenges, Joshua has shown great improvement in his reading, vocabulary, and grammar skills that we worked on using the Summer Program. He recently took his post assessment, completely turning his score around and passed with flying colors. I am so proud of Joshua and the work he has accomplished so far this year. Joshua has shown me what a positive attitude and willingness to learn can achieve. Joshua truly is a Superstar in my book!

Amanda Evans, Tutor

Region 12 – North Orange County

Jason, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Jason, 6th Grade. When I first met Jason, there was no doubt that his intellectual capability and drive to learn was already there. His aspirations were huge, to become a scientist in the future. With each session, week after week, he grew more confident and experienced. I remember reading articles aloud with him the first couple weeks, and he would be quiet and timid. Today, however, he can project his voice easily. He can confidently and loudly read anything thrown his way, even if there are words he has not yet learned. Academically, his performances on the electronic testing assessments have also improved! We always have a good conversation for about ten minutes each week where we can really discuss about our perspectives and opinions on absolutely anything. I’ve enjoyed working with Jason so much. I feel like in many ways, his growing energy while learning has rubbed off on me, and I look forward to each week as another adventure!

Ryan Hsieh, Tutor

Online Tutoring

Cassiex, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Cassie, 8th Grade. When I first started online tutoring at a shelter for children and youth, Cassie took the initiative to ask to be included in this effort. Her motivation to reinforce her knowledge and expand her skill set is a testament to her love for learning. While she lacked focus during our first sessions, Cassie is definitely improving. She has picked a subject that she wants to focus on and she comes to our sessions with her own set of problems, eager and ready to learn. We work hard to meet her goals, and I can see Cassie’s improvement with every subsequent session.

Cassie has also shared that tutoring is one of the highlights of her week, and she feels comfortable enough to treat our sessions as a friendly space where she can share what is going on in her life. She even explained her soccer game to me! I feel grateful to be given the chance to support Cassie in multiple ways and I am proud of the energy and zeal that she brings to each session.

Manasvi Pinnamaneni, Online Tutor