Month: December 2017

Dec 12

Important Safety Information for Tutors

Dear Tutors,

It seems that media reports about sexual harassment and assaults continue on an almost daily basis. While this horrific news is mainly about adults, we know that children are extremely vulnerable to abuse and assaults. This is even more common among children who are living in at-risk situations, such as homelessness, because offenders target children who seem more defenseless and are less likely to tell.

At School on Wheels, we do everything we can to protect our students – the most vulnerable children in our society. We also want to safeguard our volunteers from potential accusations. We have several mandatory policies to help ensure the safety of our students, as well as our volunteers:

Tutoring Policy

  • Tutoring has to take place in a public area and has to be scheduled so that two or more tutors will be present at the same time and place. For smaller locations, libraries or other public locations with only one tutor, the tutor must work with their student within sight and earshot of another adult (shelter staff/ residents, library staff or parents).
  • Tutors must refrain from initiating physical contact with students and must report immediately to their coordinator or School on Wheels staff if they feel uncomfortable in a situation.
  • Tutors are required to wear their School on Wheels badges to identify they are tutors and so that our students become comfortable with our name and logo. Please let your coordinator know if you need a new badge.

Field Trip Safety Policy

Tutors who wish to take students on field trips must consult and follow the SOW field trip policy. Tutors cannot provide transportation outside of this policy. If tutoring takes place outside a shelter, the parent/guardian is responsible for the student’s attendance and transportation. All parents/guardians must stay at the location for the duration of the off-site session.

Logging Policy

Volunteers are required to log all tutoring hours via the School on Wheels database. Logging is a critical and a mandatory part of being a volunteer in our program. This policy is first and foremost for the safety and security of our students, but also to protect our tutors. With accurate logging, we can identify exactly who, where and when tutoring takes place.

The vast majority of our volunteers are complying with our safety policies – thank you so much. However, it seems that not all volunteers understand the importance of these policies or we have not explained them enough. The news coming from the media has refocused my attention on our safety policies. So I am asking each of you make sure that you are complying with these policies. The safety of our students is a sacred trust. We cannot compromise that. I know you agree.

Thank you so much for being a wonderful volunteer and ensuring the safety of your student. If you have any questions, please contact your coordinator.

Kind regards,


Catherine Meek
Executive Director | School on Wheels, Inc.

Safety and security don’t just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear.
– Nelson Mandela

Dec 12

Students of the Month – December 2017


Savanna (4th Grade) – Savanna is a passionate and eager student. I ended our first online tutoring session utterly blown away by her curiosity, grit, and desire to learn. Each session she is less and less shy and whether we’re playing tic-tac-toe or working on a complex math problem, Savanna always brings the same level of energy and enthusiasm. It has been particularly rewarding to see her progress in multiplication; after just a few sessions, she has progressed from two-digit multiplication to more complex compound multiplication! In our online group sessions, Savanna helps explain to her fellow students their work too. Congrats, Savanna! – Aidan Stern, Online Tutor
Region 4:

Arriana (Grade 4) – I have been working with a sweet and lively 4th grader by the name of Arriana. Arriana is a lovely young lady that loves her three sisters, enjoys school and is very positive about life. Every week, she looks forward to what library books I will bring, as she loves to read to me. Recently, I asked to review her school planner and was so humbled to see that she even wrote my name in her planner on our tutoring day. When I recently asked Arriana what she would like to focus on, she wanted to do some science as her school does not spend a lot of time on that subject. So this week I brought supplies to do the classic diet cola and mentos experiment. Arriana and her sisters loved it! Now that I have discovered a fun reward (science), I plan to have a weekly experiment to positively end each session. I’m so glad that I have this opportunity to work with School on Wheels. It is such a rewarding experience! – Cathy Anderson, Tutor
Region 8:

Eduardo (age 15) When I first met Eduardo, he didn’t speak a word. It was his first time in a group home and I think he was probably in shock. Over the last few weeks, he has started talking more and is always willing to participate in our activities. Eduardo enjoys hands-on activities such as cooking and pumpkin carving. He took extra care when he was cleaning out his pumpkin. I didn’t get to see the final product but asked him the following session how his pumpkin turned out. He smiled and said he was happy with it and he carved a jack-o-lantern face. His smile said a thousand words. We are making progress and I know that he will continue to open up and learn how to cope with his new surroundings.
– Mandi Evans and Dianelli Gomez,


Dec 5

Ask A Tutor Tuesday – 12/5/2017

Question: “I had a conversation with my student recently about the holidays. She wanted to know all about my traditions and I told her about having my son and daughter-in-law and their new baby coming to visit for the first time, and how we like to stay at home and just be with family. I think my student felt a little bad afterwards thinking about her own situation. Now I’m concerned about what I should say/not say in the future and I was wondering if anyone had guidance about how to avoid these topics if your student asks.”

Thanks for sending in this question; it can be difficult to negotiate the tutor/mentor relationship around topics of home and personal life during the holidays. I think many tutors have been in a similar situation at some point, so don’t feel too badly about it. If your student asks a question like this, you don’t want to dismiss them or not answer, and it can be easy to overshare and not think about the context of their lives. Now that you’ve had this experience, I’m sure you will be more prepared in the future.

Some general rules: keep any comments brief and nonspecific. Avoid potentially triggering references regarding homes and family members. Keep in mind the context of your student’s living arrangements–i.e., are they with one or both parents? Are they in a group home with little contact with their families? Is one of their parents incarcerated? Are they living in a domestic violence shelter? Do they have any siblings who are incarcerated or living in foster care? All of these situations call for particular types of discretion.

However, you can still celebrate the season by discussing relatively neutral topics like your favorite holiday treats, songs and films. Last, let your student lead. Let them bring up the topics they are comfortable with, and never ask them how they plan to spend their holidays unless they share first. Remember, simply listening can be wonderfully supportive without the risk of bringing up a tender subject.

Amanda Carr joined School on Wheels in early 2015. As engagement specialist at School on Wheels, she is dedicated to providing volunteers with resources to help them succeed.

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

Dec 4

Mayor Garcetti visits Skid Row Learning Center

School on Wheels students who attend our after-school learning center were treated to a surprise visit from Mayor Garcetti yesterday

Mayor Eric Garcetti visited School on Wheels’ Skid Row Learning Center (600 E 7th Street, Los Angeles) to find out more about the center.  The children knew that someone from the city was visiting and had prepared questions in advance but did not know that it was their mayor who would be the VIP visitor!

Questions from students to the mayor… How do we stop trash going into the ocean? Where do people that are on the street go when there is an earthquake?  What are sidewalks so [sic] rumboled? How can we stop graffiti? Why do people have guns? And why do people live on the streets?

When asked by a student “Why are shelters used instead of homes,” the mayor said,
“We want shelters to be a place where people go in an emergency, not where you grow up.”

Sadly for the students at School on Wheels, many are growing up in shelters. The mayor offered hope by saying that they were building extra housing and that homelessness was his priority, but he noted these things take time.

The mayor also talked to the children about libraries, parks, water and the 2028 Olympic games. He told the students that all sports for kids would be free in the city and that they could be the next Olympians.

After a tour of the center, the mayor was interviewed by local media and was then whisked away for his next appointment.

“The kids, staff and volunteers at the center were thrilled to have met the mayor, “ said Catherine Meek, Executive Director. “Our students are really smart and they kept him honest with the questions they asked him!”

View PDF Press Release



Dec 4

Three Ways to Give Back This Holiday

Start this holiday by giving hope to thousands of homeless children by
donating just in time before Christmas. Donate here.


You can create your very own Facebook fundraiser. It’s easy! Just follow the steps below:

1. Log into your Facebook page
2. On the left side of your homepage, click on “Fundraisers” tab
3. Click “Raise Money”
4. Click “Then Get Started”
5. Select nonprofit for “Who you’re raising money for?”
6. Search “School on Wheels, Inc.”
7. Enter amount
8. Choose end date December 25th, then click “Next”
9. Enter a message about why you are raising money, then click “Next”
10. Pick a cover photo, then click “Create”

You’re Done!


Volunteers are the heart and soul of School on Wheels. You can refer a friend and/or become a tutor to a homeless child and make a difference in two lives: yours and theirs. Make an impact here.

Dec 4

It’s The Final Countdown!

Dressed in yellow from head to toe, Ian Chan, Program Administrator at School on Wheels, Inc. has a huge goal – to run 52 marathons in 2017 to raise awareness about homeless children in California.

Ian has run 51 marathons so far and will run his final marathon on Saturday, December 9. Ian will cross the finish line of his 52nd marathon at the School on Wheels, Inc. Skid Row Learning Center (600 East 7th Street, Suite 109, Los Angeles, CA 90021) between 12:30 and 1:00 PM on 12/9/2017.
A Facebook Live stream will be broadcast from 12:00 PM onward and will highlight Ian’s final 6.2 miles of Marathon 52.

This is what Ian had to say about his experience so far:

“Why am I running 52 marathons this year? Over 500,000 children experience homelessness in California each year; this campaign is about raising awareness and giving hope to a population all too forgotten and neglected. The hardest part about this campaign has been fitting all of the races into my busy year. I got married in June – with a wedding and honeymoon to plan, full-time work at School on Wheels, and general marathon training and recovery, it’s been tough. So far, I’ve been through 6 pairs of shoes and have run about 3000 miles so far this year! That’s 500 miles a pair… I’ve been pushing it with each pair of shoes! My legs are always tired, my feet always sore but my heart is full. I’m excited to be doing this for an important cause.”

In an interview with KTLA, during the Los Angeles Marathon back in March, Ian showed off his costume and talked about the 3,400+ homeless children School on Wheels, Inc. serves each year and the thousands of volunteers that help them get back on track with school and learning.

On November 4, Ian qualified for the 2019 Boston Marathon with a time of 2 hours, 57 minutes, 5 seconds (2:57:05), a pace of 6 minutes and 45 seconds per mile. Ian placed 18th out of 883 runners and placed 1st in his age division (25-29). This is his personal best race to date.

Catherine Meek, Executive Director of School on Wheels, Inc. said, “We are so proud of Ian and his amazing achievement of running a marathon every week. We hope the community will continue to support him in his goal of raising awareness about the staggering problem of homeless children in our communities.”

For more information about Ian and his marathon year, please visit:

Ian’s 52nd Marathon event:

You can watch Ian’s interview with KTLA here:

Ian’s Boston Qualifying (BQ) race can be seen here:


ABOUT SCHOOL ON WHEELS School on Wheels, Inc. is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1993 by Agnes Stevens, a retired teacher. Today, hundreds of volunteers work one-on-one with children whose homelessness prevents them from receiving the academic stability and help they desperately need. The heart of the School on Wheels’ program is the volunteer tutors who come from all backgrounds and professions, with a shared goal – to reach out to a child, to teach, to mentor, and assist in his or her educational life. The mission of School on Wheels is to enhance educational opportunities for homeless children from kindergarten through twelfth grade. The goal is to shrink the gaps in their education and provide them with the highest level of education possible. Their program serves as a consistent support system to homeless students at a time of great stress and fear. School on Wheels brings the message to homeless students that they are cared about and important. They do this by offering:

One-on-one weekly tutoring with a volunteer / Backpacks, school supplies and school uniforms / Assistance in entering school / Help in locating lost records / Guidance for parents in educational matters for their children / Skid Row Learning Center / Tutoring in six counties in Southern California, including Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

CONTACT School on Wheels, Inc. Sinead Chilton 805.641.1678 schilton@schoolonwheels.orgTo learn more about School on Wheels, Inc., please visit: