Jul 8

Volunteers of the Month – July 2020

Robin Vanneman

Region 5

Robin’s tutoring story is nothing short of inspiring! She was the last tutor to start in-person tutoring before COVID-19, and we drove around for 45 minutes before her first session trying to find parking! Robin was also my first tutor to start online. None of this has discouraged her in the least, and she goes above and beyond for her student!

Jesse Pasquan, Coordinator

I made a resolution at the beginning of the year to complete 100 volunteer hours in 2020. I did some research on different tutoring organizations and programs and it was apparent School on Wheels was a great place to be. I wanted to be a part of it! I’ve been volunteering as a tutor since I was in high school — almost 15 years now — and I spent most of that time as a literacy tutor. When I moved from Virginia to Los Angeles about 3 years ago I realized this was something I missed doing. One of my favorite memories so far is when my student Ariana and I were working on ratios; at one point, Ariana suddenly blurted out “this is easy!” and it was both funny and rewarding to hear. I was so proud of her and happy that she was getting the concepts down. Volunteering as a tutor is incredibly rewarding. You get to see your student’s grades improve, and their confidence grow right along with it. Don’t second guess on whether or not to do it — sign up today, you will not regret it!

Nhi Ha

Region 1

Nhi is an outstanding tutor, Tutor Coordinator, and Ambassador. She is kind, compassionate, smart, and always ready to help. Nhi has volunteered with School on Wheels in every capacity possible. She is currently tutoring two students (siblings) who simply adore her. Her students told the shelter staff that they never want a different tutor again, she is the only one they want to be with. The testimony speaks for itself!

Manmeet Sodhi, Coordinator

School on Wheels is a wonderful organization to work with. I’d been interested in becoming a teacher for some time and wanted more experience working with children in an academic setting. Now I am considering becoming a pediatrician as children are such a joy to work with. Additionally, I wanted to help teach homeless students because a past college student of mine was greatly affected by their housing situation. No child should be left behind, and working with School on Wheels helps me empower them to reach new heights. My first student struggled in math, but with practice, she got through the problems faster and faster. One day, I presented her with a challenge problem and her eyes lit up. As a reward for tackling it, I gave her an extra sticker of her favorite animal, the lion. At the end of the session, she walked over and gave a sticker to her brother, who was also being tutored. She gave me hope. Tutoring these kids is such a unique experience; you will meet families of varying walks of life and get to know their stories. As a tutor, our primary goal is to provide academic assistance, but School on Wheels also trains us to help students work through their emotions and allow us to mentor them, so we are having a positive impact on their lives, often in ways not traditionally thought of as a regular tutor.

Anthony Estrada

Region 1

Anthony is simply an amazing tutor. He tutors three students and is able to effortlessly connect with each one of them. He is always ready with games, activities, and worksheets for his students. Anthony is a great communicator with lots of patience and a heart of gold. I admire his dedication and flexibility for his students; no matter when they need him, Anthony will show up.

Manmeet Sodhi, Coordinator

I have had my own struggles with school. I know the hardships and difficulty that academics entail. I had trouble staying focused in class and have felt the anxiety and stress that comes with not knowing if you have what it takes to graduate. Without the support of those around me, I don’t know if I would have gotten to where I am today, on track to graduate from CSUF with a major in Physics. Knowing that there must be others experiencing these anxieties, I looked for tutoring jobs and came across School on Wheels. Realizing there are children who must go through the same classes I did, but with less sleep and other issues because of their living situation is what convinced me School on Wheels was the right opportunity for me to give back to my community. For me, the best moments involve breaking down any walls separating us; I get this chance with all my students, and it is a blissful moment every time. One example was a very dismissive student who started out ignoring me to play video games — and ended with him excitedly retelling and discussing a short story we read together. All my students have had this change and it always warms my heart to see them willing to meet me halfway and really get serious about their academics. It puts everything else into perspective and is the closest thing to a magical experience.

Pamela Gripp

Region 9

Pam has been a rockstar advocate for our students, especially in the midst of COVID. Pam has taken the extra step to get in contact with all the students at her after school group site to see how she can help and make sure they do not fall through the cracks. I cannot thank her enough for her advocacy for our students.

Genesis Torres, Coordinator

When I found School on Wheels online, I was instantly drawn to it and it’s mission. After retiring from teaching elementary school for 25 years and relocating, I realized that I really missed the kids. Working with these children has been an incredible experience for me and my family this past school year. I had the pleasure of tutoring a family in Starbucks in a Target store, and also after school in a homework club, but the pandemic has wreaked havoc on families struggling with homelessness and I lost touch. Fortunately, School on Wheels was able to locate one of my families, and I was able to provide support throughout the spring despite each of their 3 motel moves. These kids are so resilient! One of my favorite memories is when one of the sisters told me that she sets up a little office in the bathroom of their motel room to work on math when her brothers get too loud. She wants to grow up to be a brain surgeon, “for kids!” In these trying times, kids need volunteer tutors more than ever to help them to continue learning. It is very stressful not having a physical classroom to go to or the necessary technology to learn remotely, while their parents are dealing with job loss and worrying about how to feed their children.

Anisha Singh

Region 10

Anisha has been so dedicated since the moment she started with her student. She continuously goes above and beyond to make sure that her student is supported and celebrated. I think Anisha may get more excited for Jasmin’s accomplishments than Jasmin herself! She effortlessly supports Jasmin both academically and as a mentor. She truly exemplifies how fun learning can be and it has been a complete joy watching her and her student grow together. I feel grateful to know such a kind, intelligent, and empowering young woman.

Katie Philipson, Coordinator

I started volunteering to try and help more children learn to love learning as much as I do, especially Math. I volunteer with Schools on Wheels specifically because I agree with their core values and message. One memory that stands out for me is when there was a big math test coming up. My student Jasmin and I were reviewing the content and Jasmin felt very prepared for the test when she left the session. And the next week, she told me that she got a really high score! It made me smile because I was so proud of her, but also Jasmin was very proud of herself and she felt like she did her best on the test and really understood the material. I loved seeing Jasmin believe in herself and prove to herself that she could do anything she put her mind to, especially in a subject that was challenging for her. Anyone who is even slightly thinking of volunteering, I would say go for it! It is one of the best feelings to know you are making a positive difference in someone else’s life, and it’s even better when you see that difference is being made. To watch someone blossom into a confident person in front of you is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have.

Andrew Chung

Online

Though he’s only in 8th grade himself, Andrew has so much energy and support to give to his student Selena. He is consistent, dedicated, and motivated to help Selena do her best. His positive energy and nurturing spirit really shine through and have had a huge impact on his student. His mom, Ellen, is also an absolute joy and does everything she can to support Andrew’s tutoring.

Emma Gerch, Coordinator

My mom and I were looking for volunteering opportunities for me, and when we came across the School on Wheels program, I absolutely loved the idea of tutoring those children in need. I always wanted to make an impact in our community by helping others, and I’ve discovered that there are so many ways to contribute. One wonderful experience I had with my student Selena was when she passed her post assessment. We were both extremely happy that she did so well on it and that all of her hard work finally paid off. Becoming a volunteer tutor is a big step in contributing; it’s an amazing way to be able to help our community and others in need. Creating bonds with students is a big part when tutoring, and helps both the tutor and the student grow together.

Jun 26

The School on Wheels Podcast Presents: Online Tutoring With John Reece

Welcome to tutoring in the time of Coronavirus. As School on Wheels tutors move online in droves, we rounded up some of our most experienced online tutors to share their stories and give advice to those transitioning.

John Reece has tutored our students both in-person and online. His unique view of the world makes him an ideal tutor for older students, and they’ve always got something positive to say after working with him. In this episode, John talks about his journey to tutoring online, living history, and teaching students to question everything, among other things. Hold onto your seats, this one’s a wild ride! 

Note: the audio quality is a bit rough in this one. The interviews are recorded over wifi, which we can all agree is temperamental at times. Thanks for sticking with us!

Previous Episodes

Subscribe:
Buzzsprout | Google Podcasts | Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | iHeart Radio | TuneIn + Alexa


Music:

Antidepresseur by [friendzoned] | https://soundcloud.com/friendzonedbeats
Music promoted by https://www.free-stock-music.com
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en_US

The River by Rolemusic | http://freemusicarchive.org/music/RolemusicCopyright: Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/us/

Jun 18

Black Lives Matter

Rev. Dr. Cecil “Chip” Murray joined School on Wheels’ Board of Directors in 2008. After retiring as pastor of First African Methodist Episcopal Church (FAME), he was appointed as the John R. Tansey Chair of Christian Ethics in the School of Religion at the University of Southern California.

In his 90 years, Rev. Murray has witnessed and lived through much of America’s civil unrest. Murray has been a tireless advocate for the educational, civil and human rights of our most marginalized members, particularly those of the African American community.

Jun 18

2020 Graduation Spotlights

June equals graduation for students across the country. This year the celebrations have been different, to say the least. Schools got creative and hosted car parades and virtual events to celebrate students graduating from elementary school, middle school, high school and college.  

We partnered with Community Promise to celebrate School on Wheels students graduating high school this year. In addition to supporting our work with a financial contribution, they are also helping us to recognize graduating students with certificates, gift cards, and personalized gifts.

Today we want to shine a spotlight on a School on Wheels alumna graduating college, as well as two high school graduates—one a volunteer tutor and one a student.

Former student Josie graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree from USC. We first met Josie when she was living at the Union Rescue Mission with her mom and sister in 2014. She says her mom is her hero because she always said, “Having an education was the only way you get anywhere and if I wanted to reach for something better, school was the way to do it!”

Eighteen-year-old volunteer tutor Lucy graduated from Laguna Blanca School and will be attending college in the fall. Lucy tutored two students at Transition House in Santa Barbara for over a year. Lucy recently worked with School on Wheels on her senior project. You can watch her video on Digital Divide here

School on Wheels student Kenneth in Orange County kept in touch with his tutor Benjamin even when in-person tutoring was canceled due to COVID-19. He said their weekly check-ins helped him to stay focused on graduating and planning for college. Kenneth will be attending Santa Ana College.

Jun 16

Helping Students Build Consistency and Obtain Academic Success in Uncertain Times

Due to COVID-19, remote learning has become one of the premier ways of teaching and tutoring. However, for vulnerable populations where day-to-day living is inconsistent and challenging, there are many obstacles that hamper our students’ ability to learn. This webinar will discuss strategies on how you can help your student build a routine and some consistency to help them be successful during tutoring sessions. We will also talk about different ways to connect and build relationships with students that work even in a digital setting.


About the Presenter:

Natalie Platon is entering her 6th year as an elementary school teacher at KIPP Iluminar Academy, which was recently announced as the top Los Angeles public school for closing academic gaps for Latino students. Natalie currently teaches 28 students in 2nd grade. Prior to teaching, Natalie served as a Summer Associate at School on Wheels, a Lead Residential Counselor at St. Anne’s Transitional Home, an after-school Site Coordinator at Think Together, and an AmeriCorps Member at City Year Los Angeles. Natalie has a B.A. in Psychology and Spanish from UC Irvine and a Multiple Subjects Credential from CalStateTEACH and was a volunteer tutor with School on Wheels from 2014 to 2018. She enjoys learning languages, playing video games with her students, and going on walks and runs with her husband and their 9-month-old son.

Jun 15

Social and Emotional Learning Program 2020

Now more than ever, our students’ lives can be very stressful. Many of our tutors have seen how that stress can affect tutoring sessions. Join us on a walk through our newly updated SEL program, which will help our tutors teach their students tools that can be used to combat stress and explore character traits like grit and empathy. We will explain the rationale, context, and step-by-step instructions needed to begin this program just in time for summer.


About the Presenters:

Allison Maldonado has worked in the field of education for almost 20 years. She began her teaching career as a community college mentor for non-traditional students such as single mothers, first-generation college students, and disabled persons. She then worked as a Special Education teacher at a specialized school. As a teacher, she worked with students living with Autism, emotional disturbance, learning disabilities, speech and language impairment, and various other disabilities. She spent the last 7 years at School on Wheels as the Skid Row Learning Center Instructor where she oversaw our after-school program for the students living in the Skid Row area of Downtown LA. She recently transitioned to her new role where she coordinates/oversees the ABC Literacy Program, Scholarship Program, and Social-Emotional Learning.

Jason Wright has been a part of the School on Wheels team since 2016. Prior to taking his current role, he served as the Skid Row Specialist for our learning center, working closely with the Skid Row community to ensure that School on Wheels reached as many students as possible. Jason earned his bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of California, San Bernardino. In his free time, he loves to cook, bake, read, and listen to music.

Download a PDF of the slides HERE.