Month: April 2017

Apr 30

We Appreciate Our Volunteers

April is National Volunteer Appreciation Month and every year School on Wheels hosts appreciation events throughout Southern California.  We invite our volunteer tutors and staff and get together to celebrate. It is a great opportunity for volunteers to meet each other and share stories about our students and their successes. School on Wheels volunteers are the best! They dedicate their time to tutoring homeless students and ask nothing in return. During these annual appreciation events, each Regional Coordinator awards volunteers who spend 100 or more hours volunteering with a Presidential Volunteer Service Award.  This year we awarded 250 volunteers with this prestigious award.  To see the full list of volunteers you can click here.

Above are photos from events hosted in Ventura, Los Angeles, Long Beach and Inland Empire.

School on Wheels is always in need of volunteers ages 12 and older that want to make a positive difference in the life of a homeless student. We work with school age children that are living in temporary or homeless situations and provide them with one-on-one tutoring, backpacks, school supplies and all the tools they need to succeed in school. If you have one hour a week or more to spare and would like to join our amazing volunteer team please consider applying to become a volunteer tutor with our organization today! You can go to our volunteer page here to find out more and apply.

Apr 28

Former Teacher Becomes Volunteer Tutor

Chris Kuritzkes is a pre-K teacher and recently moved to California from Philadelphia. She read a flyer about School on Wheels and was intrigued to find out more. She trained as a tutor and was recently matched with Giselle (10). Chris says that Giselle is a very hard worker and enjoys learning. Since Giselle loves to learn, she is excited to review and further explore the concepts she is learning about in the classroom.
Chris said that she was completely humbled by the outpouring of resources and the positive impacts School on Wheels has on its students and families. “I am honored to be a tutor with a program that offers hope and makes a difference in the lives of so many.”

If you would like to make a difference like Chris, click below!

Apr 28

Dwight, The Math Guy

“I enjoy tutoring math. When I first applied, math tutors were in short supply. Agnes Stevens (Founder of School on Wheels) referred to me as the math guy.”

Dwight Liu has been a School on Wheels tutor for 15 years! He maintains his one-hour-a-week commitment and continues to volunteer because he finds it rewarding and feels better about himself when he is making a difference. And what a difference. We estimate that he has tutored over 100 students in his time with us!

“I tutored one student for around three years until he graduated high school. He had a heart of gold and a wonderful attitude. I was so glad when his family finally found permanent housing…So many of my other students have been brief encounters, but that is the nature of tutoring homeless kids.”

Dwight credits tutoring for School on Wheels for making him a much better tutor to his daughter – increasing his patience with her and giving him new teaching tools to help explain things. Many of the students he has worked with lack basic skills and have very difficult lives. While he still sometimes finds it hard to get his students to focus or understand concepts, he gets the support he needs from the School on Wheels online workshops and staff.

Dwight tutors at a shelter only a few minutes from his work. His company, Covington Capital Management, supports volunteer activities with donations to their employees’ favorite nonprofits.  Thank you, Dwight, for your years of service!

Are you Mathematically minded like Dwight?

Apr 27

Rachel & Ryleigh

Ryleigh is 12 ¼ years old, and her favorite flavor ice-cream is birthday cake! She would like to be a nurse, like her mom, because “Being a nurse is the best thing because you get to help people.”

Rachel Bravo, Ryleigh’s tutor’s favorite ice cream is pistachio. Ryleigh says Rachel is “funny, nice and kind.”
Rachel has been a volunteer tutor for 4 years. “I tell people about School on Wheels all the time! I even managed to persuade one of my coworkers at Ventura County Credit Union to tutor, and she loves it.”
Rachel and Ryleigh have worked together, mostly on math, for about a year. Although they meet at a kitchen table in a busy shelter, they still manage to focus on school and studies.
When Rachel wanted to do more in her community, she discovered School on Wheels online and knew she was able to commit to an hour-a-week schedule. She loves her 10-minute commute and that Ryleigh is always ready and waiting for her.
“It is hard enough to help a child succeed in school and navigate getting into college when there are two parents, with two incomes, living in their own home. Once a child falls behind, the obstacles just multiply. I also understand that no matter how prevalent texting and social media is – mastering good grammar, spelling and reading comprehension will never be obsolete!”

Click below to become a School on Wheels tutor like Rachel!


Apr 26

Southern California All-American lends big hand to young yoga students

Zach Banner poses with students during Trojan Zen. (Photo by Ben Wong)

LOS ANGELES — Later this month, Zach Banner’s name will be called at the NFL Draft, whereupon he’ll leave the college comforts of Southern California and begin a life of professional size and skill.

Banner is a 6-foot-9, 340-pound offensive tackle on the USC football team, is a mountain of a man that will make his living standing in front of some of the world’s largest athletes.

But in his last days as a Trojan, Banner and his teammate volunteers stood, not in the face of helmeted behemoths, but on yoga mats, twisted into poses alongside impoverished youth inside USC’s private athletic facility.

When the tiniest hands in the room reached for the sky, so did the biggest. When it was time to stand on one foot, players helped buoy their neighbors.

During the downward dog pose, an instructor encouraged the participants to make their best “dog bark.” Her students for the day, elementary school students and football players Nico Falah and Jackson Boyer, howled together before breaking into grins.

To conclude the session, kids from Los Angeles’ After-School All-Stars and Skid Row’s School On Wheels laid on their backs, closed their eyes and found their point of serenity. The players did the same, and with their breaths synced to the little lungs around them, they resembled boulders in a pebble garden.

Wide receiver Jackson Boyer and offensive tackle Nico Falah engage in “warrior pose” with kids from School On Wheels’ Skid Row Learning Center. (Photo by Ben Wong)

The kids, including those that instructors say are frequently hyper or violent, were stone-still.

This rare moment of peace with a future that has similar calm in it, is the goal of Trojan Zen, a yoga event that is the product of Trojan Outreach, Uprising Yoga and Banner, recipient of the USC Community Service Football Award.

Trojan Outreach is the community outreach branch of USC Athletics and Uprising Yoga is a non-profit that sponsors yoga life-skills programs for incarcerated youth and underserved communities.

The outreach program wanted to give an experience, and self-control tools nobody can rob from them, to those that have “so very little,” as Banner put it.

“A lot of our families come from domestic violence, eviction, being laid off,” said Allison Maldonado, an instructor at School On Wheels’ Skid Row Learning Center.

“We deal with students that are being uprooted, they’ve lost their home. Toys, anything they had before, is now taken away. It’s very difficult because they have a give-up mentality or a learned helplessness where they don’t have that grit to try,” she said. “They just have a fear that things are going to be taken away or messed up.”

McCall Hall, director of community outreach for USC Athletics, said youth in the program can get a semblance of normalcy from it.

“(They’re) trying to make something of themselves,” Hall said. “They go to school every day and don’t know what they’re going to return to. What is homework to a kid that doesn’t have a home?”

Faculty at the Skid Row Learning Center frequently chaperone their students on the afternoon walk to the Union Rescue Mission, a half-mile away. Sometimes the mission is full or closed, at which point the students, many of whom don’t have a functioning parent, have to find somewhere else to lay their heads for the night.

Yoga may not be four physical walls and a roof, but according to Gordon Ogden, a yoga teacher and event planner for Phoenix-based Walter Yoga, the practice can provide the structure for development and progress.

“When we teach the body to be still, you start to understand that union between mind, body and breath and that starts to ripple throughout your life and you become happier and in control,” Ogden said.

“Yoga teaches kids that through practice, not only they can make themselves feel better, but they can start to see improvement and changes that happen over time,” Ogden said. “That builds confidence, strength, body awareness and (positive) body image and lowers stress.

Click Here to read the full article from Cronkite News.