School on Wheels students overwhelmingly lack regular access to information and communication technology. This not only contributes to their learning gaps, but can actually leave them without key 21st Century skills that many of their peers possess. This webinar will walk you through the ways you can help your student(s) bridge the Digital Divide with School on Wheels resources. We’ll go over how to use online programs to help your student learn math, reading, computer science, and more; how to implement our Digital Literacy curriculum; and extra special online learning opportunities for School on Wheels students.
About the Presenter:
Emma Gerch started with School on Wheels just over 1 year ago. As the Online Tutoring Coordinator, she connects students who need extra help or live outside of the SOW service area with tutors via video and audio chat. She also develops programming to build our students’ technology skills, and makes sure to stay on top of the latest trends in education technology.
Sign your student up for one of our digital learning programs HERE.
You can find our digital literacy curriculum HERE.
Students experiencing homelessness face a number of unique challenges that may affect their emotional well-being. High levels of stress, trauma, and the possibility of specific mental health needs can affect their ability to concentrate on school work as well as how they relate with their tutor during sessions. Any of our students may experience unexpected emotional crises at any time.
In this collaborative webinar, regional coordinators Jesse Pasquan and Angie Allmendinger discuss trauma-informed care for crisis intervention during tutoring sessions. This webinar will empower volunteers to address a variety of students’ emotional needs while maintaining healthy boundaries and sticking to School on Wheels policies.
About the Presenters:
Jesse Pasquan recently moved to California and started with School on Wheels earlier this year. Prior, he was heavily involved with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Washington State Chapter by delivering prevention services across the state. He is excited to bring his experience from serving as a Certified Peer Counselor for youth experiencing system involvement and mental health conditions.
Angie Allmendinger has served as regional coordinator for School on Wheels for more than two years. In that time, she has conducted a variety of mental health-based seminars for School on Wheels staff and volunteers, including The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children and Trauma and Homelessness. In her free time, Angie serves as a California Office of Emergency Services Crisis Counselor and as an advocate for sexual assault survivors.
Research shows that Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) leads to increased academic performance, improved behavior, and positive outcomes related to children’s long-term mental, physical, and economic well-being. This webinar provides an introduction to SEL and the reasons why it is so important for children and teens experiencing homelessness. Katie goes over basic SEL strategies and best practices that can be easily used during tutoring sessions.
About the Presenter: Katie Brush is a Research Associate at the Ecological Approaches to Social and Emotional Learning (EASEL) Lab at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she works on several research projects related to the analysis, development, and implementation of K-12 SEL programming in the US and abroad. Prior to joining the EASEL Lab in 2015, Katie served as an AmeriCorps tutor, mentor, and after school coordinator with City Year Boston, a nonprofit organization that partners with urban public schools to help students stay on track to graduate high school. Katie has an Ed.M. in Human Development and Psychology from Harvard, a B.A. in History from Tufts University, and has been a volunteer tutor with School on Wheels for one year.
This summer, our Comunidad Cesar Chavez families participated in a PBS SoCal’s 5-week STEM Parent Academy. During the workshops, both parents and children took part in learning about mathematics and science concepts through the use of technology and PBS KIDS online games, videos, and hands-on activities. Most importantly, our parents also learned strategies to become engaged in their children’s learning at home. In order to provide more access to technology and to further foster a passion for learning, the attending families received tablets from our generous PBS SoCal Partners. Thank you PBS SoCal for providing our families such an unforgettable educational experience. We look forward to continuing our partnership throughout our sites.
Ethan (9th Grade) – Even though Ethan has been working hard as an older brother and taking care of two younger siblings, I admire his enthusiasm for participating in the Summer Program. At first, he was hesitant about reading books that were written before the year 2000, but the Summer Program has made him more open to reading different kinds of books, such as The Hobbit. Throughout the summer, we’ve had a lot of fun talking about the books we’ve read together. Ethan especially enjoyed making text-to-self connections and identified strongly with the character Wade Watts from the novel Ready Player One because of how Wade overcomes the challenges he experiences. After summer, I look forward to seeing Ethan continue to develop his love of reading and continue to make different types of connections when he reads! – Natalie Platon, Ethan’s Online Tutor
Communidad Cesar Chavez Students – Because we mainly group tutor at a short-term shelter, we only have the kids for a limited time before they move to more permanent housing. It’s tough to get tutoring done in a fairly noisy, fluid environment with kids of different abilities, but I’ve found multiplication flash cards are the most useful tool. 75% of the students we help have trouble with their times tables, and since multiplication is the cornerstone of math, the kids see immediate results. My favorite part of the year is during the summer, when we develop interactive science projects. They include projects such as dry ice, launching water bottles, anatomy, botany, paper airplanes, and making dinosaur fossils. The kids go nuts for this stuff!
– Evan Panas, Tutor
STEM of Wheels Students – We immensely enjoyed working with the students in STEM on Wheels. Their completed projects for our daily challenges were proud moments for both them and us. Whether it was building a bridge to cross a river or trying to program a Sprite to dance about the room, the kids demonstrated logic, background knowledge, reasoning, and most importantly, a sense of fun in completing their projects. We cheered as Daniella’s group’s little car inched its way up the inclined plane; we laughed with Bryan in his attempt to design his candy “cell” into a face; we groaned while doing our healthy exercises; we watched excitedly as Natalie’s dog chased a cat around the screen like she’d coded it to do. It was quite the summer program, full of amazing kids. – STEM on Wheels Tutors
Mathew – To go to the summer camp and share some of our knowledge of the biomedical, engineering, health, and coding fields was a rewarding experience: it put smiles on the kids’ faces, it put smiles on our faces, and overall, kids had a good time doing our hands-on projects. It was amazingly exciting to see our students start to discover new passions and interests while experiencing STEM as a whole.
Ashley – Each day we did a different activity that related to engineering, biomed, health, or coding. Many of the students learned things that they had never seen at school before, including Scratch and K’nex.
Michael – I could already tell that the organization required dedication and and passion. I soon realized the power of teamwork and the possibilities that could arise from the combined goodwill of multiple volunteers.
Jason – There was no doubt that the curriculum — which consisted of engineering, biomed, health, and coding — was exceptional, however, what made this program so successful and the experience worthwhile were the irreplaceable connections made during the course of the three weeks. Given the thier harsh lifestyles, it is not fanatical to presume that education is not their first priority, therefore, such intimate connections between the tutor and the students may be more impactful to the children’s lives than any lecture. I hope that we have comparably influenced the children.
Region 1 – East LA:
Evan Panas – I started tutoring with School on Wheels a little more than 5 years ago when I noticed some free time that could be more productive. I felt SOW offered the best bang for my buck. The greatest part about helping kids is that they’re eager to learn, and information adults take for granted amazes them. They are excited to see you every week. It’s satisfying to provide a little stability in their chaos-ridden lives. Since we do this as a group, I would be remiss to not also thank my fellow tutors Niru Madduri, Alonso Quintero, Brenda Ramirez, and Marisol Sacramento. And a special thanks to Sasana Kachirsky who coordinates at another shelter and is never-ending supply of inspiration. Also, many thanks to our past and present regional coordinators who offer wonderful support to all their tutors: Paula Buxbaum, Marisol Farfan, Daisy Arce, Cecelia Olivas, Louisiana Wermer, and Ian Chan.
Natalie Platon – It’s been lots of fun participating in the Summer Program this year! I’m glad that online tutoring gives me the opportunity to still work with Ethan even though he moved away from Skid Row a few years ago. By using Google Hangouts and our smartphones, we’ve had great discussions about what we’ve read; Ethan is now making more text-to-self, text-to-world, and text-to-text connections and has progressed when it comes to thinking more deeply about the underlying message behind a story. The Summer Program has also motivated him to read more as well, and we’ve read several books so far. Ethan has even gone to the library himself to read more books on his own! I’m very thankful to be able to still connect with and tutor Ethan even though he’s moved several times.
Skid Row Learning Center:
Lisa Yu – I began volunteering because I just want to help out a bit. Being homeless is hard enough but being homeless and trying to keep up with school as well?! Wow, now that’s a challenge. I tutor at the Learning Center so I never know what to expect. Sometimes a student needs help with a math problem. Often, he or she just needs encouragement to power through an assignment. There is nothing like seeing the glow of accomplishment on a student’s face after having just persevered and finished. Other times it has nothing to do with school but with just listening empathetically.
What amazes me is the energy that hits me every time I enter the Learning Center. Wow! I just love the unabashed enthusiasm, curiosity and resilience of these students. At times the energy seems to visibly bounce off the walls. Huge kudos to the resident team that keeps everyone focused! Thank you, School on Wheels, for really taking to heart the “no child left behind” credo.
Region 7 – San Fernando Valley:
Michael Weiser – I am happily married for 38 years and have two beautiful and incredible daughters and one grandson who we all adore. I have had a rewarding 40-year career in the entertainment industry, and have reached a point in my life where I decided that because I have been so fortunate, I need to recognize the opportunities I have had by giving back somehow.
While searching sites for non-profit organizations that might be appealing I stumbled across School on Wheels, and it all felt right. And because of School on Wheels, I have had the opportunity to meet 9-year-old Nikoli, who is an amazing, funny, and a very smart young man who has a real desire to learn. Nikoli loves video games and would like to be a video game developer when he is older. I am honored to have this opportunity to spend time with Nikoli every week, and to see the improvement in his math and handwriting skills!!