Sep 16

Students of the Month – September 2020

Leon Jr.

Age 13

Leon is interested in deconstructing cars and reassembling them to increase their speed, specifically the Ford Mustang, Shelby Cobra, GT, and Ford Fox. Leon also loves to foster cats and host YouTube streams. Although he says he doesn’t like math, Leon is great at it! We have been working on his Algebra skills and I can see his fear slowly subsiding. By working methodically when approaching algebraic equations, he has gotten much more comfortable with seeing variables and solving for them!

Leon has taught me so much about cars! From the very first session, it became very evident that he has a strong understanding of different car models and how to reconfigure engines to increase their speed. Some of Leon’s dreams include racing a Shelby Cobra while listening to The Beach Boys or 70’s music, becoming a carpenter, and of course being a car mechanic.


Kristy Nguyen, Tutor

Miracle

Age 9

My student Miracle has had more than her share of challenges, including having to attend multiple schools, each with new kids, new teachers, and unfamiliar new programs — all without the benefit of a home as a place of refuge and comfort. When we first started working together, Miracle found reading a challenge and it was a struggle for us. Now, however, her reading skills are excellent! In addition to understanding the material, she asks questions and wants to learn more.

Miracle likes painting and doing math, and also helping other kids. Whenever she sees a little boy or girl who seems sad or might be having a problem, she goes over and asks if they’re okay and tries to make them feel better. The inspiration for the picture Miracle drew (above left) is her dream to be a doctor. She wants to take care of people, and I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen her do exactly that for other children. I know how smart and determined Miracle is, so if she wants to become a doctor, I know one day she will.


Betsy Borns, Tutor

Paola

Age 6

Paola loves ballet, makeup, nail polish, unicorns, and learning about Paris. She would love to travel and see a ballet in Paris one day.

Paola missed half of her kindergarten classes during the spring semester due to COVID and moving. On top of all the craziness, Paola is also an ESL student, so she is learning a new language! This has not been an easy time for her, but she is always excited to learn something new and wants to do well. She has reminded me about the resiliency of a child. She’s got more grit than most adults I know, and I am so proud of her. She has also taught me about the importance of silliness, especially on tough days. Laughter is our trick for a more productive tutoring session!


Leticia Ortiz, Tutor

Kieley

Age 13

Kieley is interested in writing, reading, and creating her own works of art. She also loves pumpkins, art, the sea, and animals — especially dolphins and her dogs. Kieley is also obsessed with all things Harry Potter! She is currently reading the series aloud with one of her other tutors and greatly admires the actress Emma Watson, who plays Hermione Granger in the films.

Kieley has struggled with reading in the past but has made considerable improvement through her consistent efforts. She’s a bright girl with strong opinions, and that also makes constructing paragraphs easier. Recently, Kieley finished reading the first Harry Potter book completely on her own. As she kept on progressing through the book, she began building her confidence in sounding out words and relating events of the book to her own life.

Kieley is a very sociable person and her infectious joy translates well into our sessions. For the immediate future, Kieley has told us that she is eager to “catch up” with her middle school peers in terms of her academic skills. We have no doubt she will achieve this goal because she is focused, determined, and eager to learn. Kieley has overcome so much, and she taught us that perseverance and a positive attitude are key to accomplishing previously impossible tasks. She is unfailingly positive, gracious, and grateful for the education she receives from her various tutors and family.


Suzanne Rizzolo , Tutor
Sep 16

Volunteers of the Month – Sept. 2020

Gregory Demirjian

Online

Gregory is incredibly thorough and committed in his tutoring. He has created an amazing bond with his student Ethan and does everything he can to make Ethan’s tutoring experience exceptional. Gregory is very experienced as both an in-person and online tutor with School on Wheels. We’re glad to have him as part of the School on Wheels family!


Emma Gerch, Coordinator

I first learned about School on Wheels through social media. I noticed on a friend’s Facebook profile that they volunteered as a tutor, did some research to see what the organization was all about, and was convinced.

I have been lucky in many ways to get to where I am now, so I make it part of my life to dedicate my time to those that need help in the face of obstacles. I want community outreach and volunteering to be a part of what I do for the rest of my life.

The student I tutor struggles with math, so for one of our sessions I taught him a trick that made him say, “whoa, that’s really cool actually!” I could see the light in his eye, that I had taught him something he can take with him for the rest of his life. It was extremely gratifying and I smile every time I remember that day.

Tutoring with School on Wheels is the highlight of my week. My student not only learns from me, but I have learned so much from my student. Tutoring with School on Wheels continues to be a humbling and rewarding experience.

Leticia Ortiz

Region 8

Leticia is a dedicated and caring tutor who always goes the extra mile to support her student and their family! She began tutoring her current student just after we transitioned to online tutoring. Leticia began meeting online with Paola 3 times a week to help her catch up with schoolwork and learn English. She also will frequently check in with me to find community resources that can help the family. Leticia is a wonderful example of the dedication of School on Wheels volunteers!


Chris Walsh, Coordinator

After moving for a new job I wanted to do some volunteer work in the area, and School on Wheels’ mission stood out to me. So much so that despite feeling insecure about my tutoring skills I signed up anyway, determined to be the best tutor I could be. My love of learning has brought me a lot of happiness, opportunities, and financial stability; I want this for these kids and always do what I can to encourage a love for learning.

One special memory I have is when I was tutoring a 4th grader, a girl who generally had a very serious demeanor. One day we were working on some homework and she pointed to a math problem she couldn’t understand. But when I looked, instead of her finger pointing to the problem, what I saw was a ridiculously tiny, plastic hand reaching out of her sleeve! I turned to face my very serious student and we both exploded with laughter. It was so out of character for her and that little hand was so weird… I still think back and laugh about it.

Betsy Borns

Region 7

Betsy is an amazing tutor and person. She has exhibited empathy, compassion, and kindness to not only her student, but to her student’s whole family. She makes learning fun and engaging and has developed a genuine connection with her student and her family. In addition to providing academic support, Betsy also encourages her student Miracle to be confident in herself and her abilities, so she can aspire to be and do anything that she wants!


Maxine Faustino, Coordinator

As a human being who has had the good fortune of having a family and career that I love, a stable home, and a community to live in, I believe it is my responsibility and duty to help others who haven’t had the same good fortune. I also believe that if you want your children to be compassionate and giving human beings, it’s important to model that behavior instead of just talking about it.

One of my most powerful tutoring experiences was when my student Miracle broke through her fear of failure. We had been working for many sessions on getting her to try reading and one day I could see her push her fear aside and go for it. I’ll never forget the smile on her face when she realized she was much better at it than she thought! What a beautiful experience.

I’ve spoken to many people about becoming a volunteer tutor and I always say the same thing: “It will change your life.” If you think volunteering is going to be a sacrifice, you’re wrong. Yes, it can be challenging and frustrating, but you always get much more than you give. Rather than being a sacrifice, it’s actually an honor — a gift you give yourself as well as another person. In addition to helping a student learn, you’re creating a beautiful bond of friendship that will last forever.

Kristy Nguyen

Region 9

Kristy has been working with students during the COVID-19 shutdown and has gone the extra mile to aid in all technology-related issues. She arranged tutoring sessions on different platforms, etc., and was still able to help her student get a summer incentive prize!


Genesis Torres, Coordinator

I volunteer with School on Wheels because I want to help address educational opportunity gaps faced by students with housing instability. I want to help make access to education more equitable by using my own experiences to assist the academic journeys of others.

My student Leon and I always have a great time! One of the best moments was when he helped lead me in answering his hypothetical question on what a given car would be like if he changed certain parameters. I knew absolutely nothing about cars, so this was a big deal! Leon was able to translate automobile jargon into everyday language and give me enough background so that I could arrive at an answer. Ultimately, he successfully did what great tutors do!

Aug 26

Scruffy and the Egg

From creator John Dowd’s Instagram:

Today I’m happy to share a short video I made about an extraordinary LA artist named Angela Sanchez. Angela is the author of a children’s book series called “Scruffy and Egg”. The series is based on stories that Angela and her father would tell each other as they experienced homeless together while Angela was still in high school. Angela’s stories reach children and adults alike and place dignity and empathy at the forefront of the conversation on homelessness. I’m truly grateful to Angela for being so open with me and for allowing me to tell a small part of her story.

John would like to encourage anyone who is moved by this video to donate to support our work for students like Angela.

Aug 18

2020 Student Artwork Contest

We love student artwork and want to encourage your students to exercise their creativity by designing a postcard for their favorite holiday.

The winning designs will be shared with the School on Wheels community and the students will receive a $50 Gift Card.

At least one submission from every student will be shared on our website. There is no limit to the number of submissions a student can make. All submissions must be received by October 31, 2020, and must use the template below – designs can be vertical or horizontal:

https://schoolonwheels.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/StudentArtworkContest-2020submissionform-newdeadline.pdf

If your student is unable to print the template they can draw a 5×7 rectangle and create artwork within that area. Questions? Email partnerships@schoolonwheels.org

Aug 11

Become a Monthly Donor in 2020

Our students living in shelters, motels, group homes, and on the streets of Southern California are about to start what will be one of the most challenging school years of their young lives and the odds not stacked in their favor.

Join us to help these students overcome the many obstacles they are facing. By becoming a monthly donor and sponsoring a school year for a student in this critical time, you can be part of the solution

All donors who give $25 or more a month will also receive a School on Wheels limited edition t-shirt as seen below. Become a monthly donor today!

Aug 10

Pandemic Intensifies Economic Disparities for Neediest Students

Distance learning has been a challenge for all students and their families, but for the estimated one out of 20 children in California experiencing homelessness, the challenges can seem insurmountable.

The pandemic has intensified the economic disparities, putting the neediest students at a further disadvantage.

“I am very scared and terrified for our families and our students,” said Charles Evans, the executive director of School on Wheels. “They’ve had to overcome so much with being homeless and then you add that other layer of distance learning.”

Coverage from NBC Los Angeles

Pandemic Intensifies Economic Disparities for Neediest Students
Homeless Students Get Help With Online Learning
Distance Learning Presents Extra Challenges to Homeless Families