Nov 12

Meet Adam, Yalda, and Naz

Guest post by School on Wheels volunteer ambassador Stacey Millett.


Recently Yalda published a book of her poetry to raise funds for School on Wheels. It includes drawings from School on Wheels students as well! You can buy the book here and on November 16th, 2019 there will be a public book launch party in Ventura


Adam, 16 years old, started with School On Wheels in March 2018. He describes his experience with his tutors as being “positive and helpful in creating a template to reach his goals.”

When Adam came to School On Wheels his main aspiration was to work on increasing his SAT score. Adam’s current goal is to score within the top 1 percent of students on the PSAT, which will make him eligible for the National Merit Scholarship Program. He would like to attend USC and study biology and design. 

School On Wheels worked to facilitate a personal relationship that would support Adam in achieving his goals. Yalda,16, and her mother Naz tutored Adam together. Adam says, “they are both very helpful and have different points of view. Perspectives from both the mother and daughter help in different areas and provides a balance in learning.” 

The three met each week, and sometimes their sessions lasted over two hours. If they were unable to meet in person they did Skype sessions on the computer. Adam was very grateful to School On Wheels for providing a computer so that his learning has no boundaries.  

Adam and Yalda are the same age. Yalda has benefited from the tutor sessions as well, as she was studying to take her SAT test soon. Typically, when one of them answered a problem incorrectly, the other will have answered correctly, and vice versa. Naz, in a truly parental fashion, made sure they took breaks outside of the library: getting fresh air and even going for a quick jog around the building. 

This unique tutoring template they have created “worked working wonderfully,” Naz explained. When Adam began his School on Wheels tutoring sessions with Naz and Yalda, his score was 1170. He’s now at 1450! “This was a big turning point”, Naz continued, “when Adam scored so high, it made all three realize their hard work and dedication was really showing results and it gave them all more trust in each other and the process.”

Adam’s advice to other School On Wheel students is this: “Find a goal and dedicate yourself to your goal. If you are struggling to find something to focus on, ask others what they think you are good at, see if that is a good fit, and keep your head down and work hard. If things get hard along the way, believe that it will get better.” 

Adam adds that “when he achieves his success he will have three to credit: Yalda, Naz and School On Wheels for helping him get there.” Yalda believes 100% in this possibility, saying “Adam has a bright future ahead of him and can do anything he commits to.”

Nov 6

Students of the Month – Nov. 2019

DeAndre

Age 16

DeAndre would like to be a software engineer. He loves Fortnite, all things Marvel (especially Spider-Man), YouTube, and math. We have studied together for a big World War II history test, practiced getting ahead in his math classes using a Geometry workbook, and had informative lessons about earning credit, minimum wages, resume building, salary negotiations, and other applicable skills.

Christina Schoellkoph, Tutor

Kyla

Age 7

Kyla loves to draw–mainly animals–and enjoys science. Her love for science is sparked by discovering new things like fossils and dinosaurs. She also loves ice cream! She struggles a bit to stay focus but has greatly improved each time I have been with her. When she grows up she wants to become an artist, doctor, scientist, a famous dancer or singer. Oh, and she wants a peacock for a pet. Kyla has taught me that an interest in school can help you dream big. The perseverance that she has shown tells me that she has a bright future ahead.

Nathalie Martinez, Tutor

Anthony

Age 13

Anthony wants to go to college and to work on solving global warming. Math is an academic challenge that we have worked on together. Working with Anthony has taught me that being humble is one of the best personality traits someone can have, and also how important it is to always be open to learning new things.

Eden Ettenger, Tutor

Azekial

Age 8

Azekial is very interested in video games and drawing, and enjoys cartoons like Teen Titans Go. I think that one of the biggest challenges we have faced was trying to get him familiar with the way time is represented on a clock. At first, he couldn’t identify the times in the pictures, but now he has made much progress. Azekial isn’t yet sure what he would like to do in the future, but is a very bright student so I’m sure he will make it far.

Nivitha Kandula, Tutor

Jacob

Age 14

Jacob likes to ride his bike and skateboard, and to practice tricks on them. He is also enjoys video games and watching YouTube. At school, PE is his favorite subject. His dream job would be a professional BMX rider. On weekends, Jacob sometimes helps out a family member with handyman jobs which allows him to learn how to fix things. This gives him the opportunity to discover if there is a trade that he would be interested in pursuing when he finishes high school.

Chris Smith, Tutor

Nov 6

Volunteers of the Month – Nov. 2019

Christina Schoellkopf

Region 4

Christina is a dedicated tutor! She tutors one-on-one at the same time and place as several other School On Wheels tutors. I have received a lot of feedback about her from those other tutors and it is all incredibly positive. She does a great job and has made such an impact with her student.

Kristina Rakosh, Coordinator

As a journalist, I had been overwhelmed by the hate and misconduct I had been reporting. When the #MeToo movement reached a tipping point in 2018, I realized I couldn’t control how other people treated members of their community. But I felt compelled to do more to add goodness to mine. So, I started researching ways I could give back and help people. I think what’s special about School on Wheels is that we are more than tutors, we have the power to be advocates.

For example, I learned that my student DeAndre wanted to earn his driver’s license, but didn’t know where to start. I contacted his social worker and asked how he could start this process and if there was a way I could help, and when I relayed back to DeAndre about it, he said something like, “Wow, you really care,” and this meant a lot to me! The one hour a week I give of my time brightens my entire week. We may be called tutors, but we do a lot of learning on this end, too.

Shreya Mardia

Region 9

Shreya is an absolute rock star of a tutor! She comes to group tutoring every single week with a huge smile on her face and a passion for the students she works with. She is pure joy and sunshine and the students love working with her.

Rachael Christenson, Coordinator

Initially I was volunteering at my local library to help my community, but I wanted to help out where it was most needed. When I found School on Wheels online, it seemed like a perfect fit, as I had prior experience working as a tutor.

Not long ago, I was working with a very young student who was trying to learn how to write his name. After I helped him learn how to write the letters and he was able to write his name all by himself, he was so excited and proud about this accomplishment. He even turned to another tutor and showed it to them, saying that I had taught him how to write his name correctly. It made me happy that I was able to make such a difference in someone’s life just by spending little of my time every week. I’m truly glad that I was able to be a part of its wonderful volunteer program. If you are thinking about volunteering, definitely become a volunteer tutor for School on Wheels. It’s only an hour a week and you could change someone’s life for the better!

Eden Ettenger

Region 8

I had a chance to get to know Eden at an Advanced Tutor Training and I was so impressed with her dedication, her enthusiasm and her commitment to her student, Anthony. She followed up that training with a wonderful email asking how she could become more involved and now she is taking on a new program at Transition House as a Tutor Coordinator! We are so lucky to have her in Region 8!

Chris Walsh, Coordinator

I am actually from the same town as Agnes Stevens, the founder of School on Wheels. My mom knew her and I remember doing volunteer events for School on Wheels when I was younger. The organization has stayed in my mind ever since. Homelessness and education are the two social issues that are of most importance to me. I have always loved School on Wheels’ mission and I think it addresses an issue that is too often neglected: the effects homelessness has on one’s educational experience. I feel very lucky to be a part of School on Wheels’ work. Whenever I do science experiments with my student, I love seeing how curious he is to learn more; he is incredibly intelligent, and seeing our work together pull that out of him is a very special experience. For anyone considering becoming a volunteer tutor, I would say definitely do it! It is nothing short of a life-changing experience.

Nivitha Kandula

Online

Nivitha is an incredibly consistent and positive influence on her student. She is always thinking about the best ways to support him.

Emma Gerch, Coordinator

I learned about Schools of Wheels through personal online research. I was interested in trying to be a part of something new and help others even when I may not necessarily be in the same location. I think that knowledge is something that everyone should have, and I wanted to take a small part in spreading it, one step at a time.

It always makes me smile when my student and I compete against each other in games. He’s usually better than me at some of the games, and it makes me laugh when he wins. It’s a very rewarding experience and you can form a bond with your student. You can also learn new things or reinforce topics. There is always a new experience to come and new things to try, so to anyone considering becoming a tutor, I say go for it.

Chris Smith

Region 10

Chris prioritized his student, Jacob, and his success from the second he started his first session. Chris’s positive attitude is infectious, not only for his student, but for his fellow tutors. He has a way of making everyone feel comfortable and welcome and it truly impacts everyone around him. From making sure his student is set up for success to planning additional sessions to helping with extra School on Wheels events, Chris has been so reliable and impactful, and I am so grateful for him!

Katie Philipson, Coordinator

I am grateful to the people who helped me during my early years and found School On Wheels while looking for an opportunity to give back. My student Jacob helps out his mom by getting his younger brother Jaay ready every morning. Jacob and his brother both came to the Halloween party, and it was great to see Jacob in his role as responsible big brother, making sure that his young sibling had fun and stayed in line. It’s so rewarding to give a helping hand to a young person in a difficult situation. It doesn’t take much time and it’s fun.

Oct 10

School On Wheels’ own Angela Sanchez featured on NBC

In a segment titled, “Ex-Homeless Woman Writes Children’s Books That Break Stigma of Homelessness,” former School on Wheels student (and now Board Member) Angela Sanchez discusses her journey, her work, and her wonderful children’s books.

Here is a short excerpt:

“For a kid who is homeless, having more advocates in your corner, having more people behind you, that’s the best thing that could happen to you,” Sanchez said.

It’s a lesson she learned when she needed help with AP Calculus and reached out to School on Wheels, a nonprofit that provides free tutoring and school supplies for homeless children.

“School on Wheels delivered. They didn’t just find me a tutor; they found me an astrophysicist from CalTech. And so, I literally had a rocket scientist helping me with my homework,” Sanchez said.

Watch the full segment here.

Oct 1

Volunteers of the Month – Oct. 2019

Rahul Kamalapurkar

Region 5

Rahul is constantly in good spirits at a fast-paced Digital Learning Center. He is invested in each of the students’ learning, and is always looking for ways to help out & make new tutors feel welcome. Rahul is very smart & happy to pass his math skills along to any student who wants to learn. He has been tutoring since January of 2019.

Jesse Pasquan, Coordinator

I was tutored growing up and had previously been a mentor for the foster care system. When I moved to LA I did a Google search for tutoring programs for underserved/underprivileged kids and found School On Wheels. A lucky find! I grew up with parents who had very high standards for me, but we were in a small town with a low-quality education system. I’ve seen how much of a difference educational support can make, and I wanted to be part of that effort.

The kids’ high energy is refreshing every week—so many of the students are really motivated and have a great sense of humor. In one of my first tutoring sessions, a Kindergarten student and I were reading together and making howling noises as the dog in the story howled at the moon. I still chuckle when I think about that day. I think my favorite moments are when a student is working on a tough problem (especially in math, my favorite) and sticks with it until he/she figures out the logic. I’ve truly felt like every session has been rewarding for me. So many of the kids want to be great students and just need someone to help them get over barriers; it’s amazing to be part of that journey.

Ann Buckley

Region 10

Ann has been tutoring James for over three years and has gone above and beyond to make sure he has consistency in his life. When I saw Ann with James it was clear how close they were and how much they trusted each other. Ann told me all about how wonderful James was and I could see how proud that made James feel. They have met anywhere that they are able to and Ann has really gone above and beyond to maintain that connection.

Katie Philipson, Coordinator

I found School on Wheels when I had just retired and was wanting to give back. It has been a very rewarding experience, and can also be great fun. I always encourage people to become a volunteer tutor. One hour of our time can be so precious for these children. The hour I spend with my student is definitely a highlight of my week. When my student James won the “Character Counts” award last school year, he was so proud. There are simply no words to describe how I feel… it’s so gratifying and fulfilling to know that I can have an impact on my student’s day, week, and even life.

Bernadette Baclig

Region 9

Bernadette has been such an amazing tutor at HIS House! She has been there since day one of group tutoring when we started in May of 2018 and has been a rock of support for the kids there. They love Ms. B!

Rachael Christenson, Coordinator

I first realized my love for working with students while volunteering at my kids’ elementary school. I love showing them that learning can be fun and providing them with useful skills to overcome any learning obstacles they might encounter.

I remember one student last year in our group session. Whenever he came in for tutoring, he looked like he didn’t want to be there and would always ask to play online games that were not educational. His family moved to another location, but within a month or so he was back… and very excited to be there! My Regional Coordinator informed me that he specifically asked to attend our group session, even though his family was now in another location. So even though at times it might feel like we are not getting through, something amazing is happening.

For anyone thinking of volunteering, I’d say don’t hesitate to do it. Think about all the students who are hungry for knowledge and just need someone to be there as their mentor, cheerleader, and teacher. School on Wheels makes it easy to volunteer, from their training to their support team.