Author: Sinead Chilton

Oct 27

As students suffer during pandemic, an Irvine resident steps in – LA Times

Katherine Dang, 21, is hoping to help narrow the learning gap by providing tutoring services to students experiencing homelessness in Orange County. Dang, who is from Irvine and attends UC Santa Barbara, started a university chapter of the nonprofit School on Wheels during the last spring quarter.

“A lot of the kids that we work with have experienced a lot of trauma and a lot of movement in their lives,” said Sinéad Chilton, chief development and marketing officer with School on Wheels. “They might have lived in several places, they might have missed school because of that. And typically, they’re behind their peers when it comes to academics.”

“Katherine is just a testament to the willingness of our volunteers to create more advocacy and awareness around students experiencing homelessness,” said Charles Evans, executive director of School on Wheels. “Homeless students are often invisible. Anytime you hear homelessness being talked about, children experiencing homelessness are often left out, which just perpetuates the cycle of homelessness.”

Chilton said the nonprofit currently serves about 1,400 students, including more than 120 in Orange County. They are hoping to serve 2,000 by the end of the year. Read more…

Jul 6

Grateful for our Grads

Read about the resiliency of the Class of 2021. Congratulations to all our amazing graduating seniors…

Creighton University, Marine Biology

Adam was doing okay in school and knew he wanted to go to college—but living in a motel with his family was taking its toll on his motivation and confidence. He was matched with a mother/daughter tutoring duo who helped him prepare for the PSAT with new learning strategies and a new perspective (his final score was 1450!) Adam says his time with School on Wheels helped him realize he can do anything he sets his mind to, regardless of his situation.

California State University Fullerton, Biological Science

Hernan will be the first in his family to attend college. His dream is to become a physician specializing in primary care. Before he met his tutor he was failing classes and did not see college in his future. Hernan says it is a great feeling to have accomplished so much and that his life is much different today than when he first met his tutor four years ago.

California State University, Fullerton

Mark plans to become a family therapist after college. When he first started tutoring with School on Wheels he was more concerned about where his family was going to sleep each night than his D’s and F’s in school. He credits his tutor Theresa with improving his self-confidence and says she taught him that school was key to being successful and to never stop dreaming!

California State University, Northridge, Speech and Language Pathology

Jenin needed help with her college applications and her tutor Jay Lee turned up at exactly the right time. She was feeling alone and disconnected from school but with his support she began to think outside of the box and aimed higher. She thinks School on Wheels is a great program for kids in her situation and says that one person can impact your life in ways you never imagined.

Plans to attend nursing school

“Don’t give up” is the mantra Angel learned from her School on Wheels tutor, Wisdom (what a great name for a tutor!). She says that his patience was the key to helping her understand math and she calls Wisdom a ‘Super Tutor’.

Mar 13

Annual Safety Update

Every year we publish our safety policies to remind volunteers of how important it is to comply with these mandated policies. 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 risks. Please review these mandatory policies again to help ensure the safety of our students, as well as our volunteers. 

Tutoring Policy

  • Tutoring must take place in a public area and has to be scheduled so that two or more tutors are 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 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. 

Catherine Meek
Executive Director

Nov 21

Matching Gift Challenge – We did it!

Last month we kicked off our Matching Gift Challenge by sharing   9-year-old Sheli’s story and how she is beating the odds stacked against her with the help and support of School on Wheels.  We are happy to announce that our donors and supporters accepted the challenge and raised over $54,000!
Thank you to our generous supporters for accepting this challenge and then for smashing it!
All contributions up to $50,000 will be matched by the Sharon D. Lund Foundation, and longtime donors Steven and Stephanie Dahlberg.