Jul 26

Tutors of the Month – August 2019

Diana Peterson

Online/Region 11

Diana is a very engaging and committed online tutor. She always comes up with creative ways to reach our students. She’s also very communicative, consistently reaching out for ideas to help her students and offering suggestions to improve our program.

Emma Gerch, Coordinator

I learned about School on Wheels from a colleague I work with here at Khan Academy, who had also learned about it from another Khan employee. I was a “reading buddy” at a school nearby for many years and enjoyed it, but recently began feeling that the school had more resources than it used to, and perhaps there were other students more in need. I have huge empathy for kids experiencing homelessness and all the challenges and stress that introduces, and love connecting with kids every week — they bring real joy and also help me live in the moment!

Recently a student I was working with had an assignment to write about Stephanie Kwolek. I’d never heard of her, but together we learned that she was a Chemist at DuPont, and in 1965 invented Kevlar! It was fun to learn about her together, what set her on her career path, and for us to talk about what was most interesting to us about what we’d learned. For anyone considering becoming a volunteer tutor, I would tell them to try it! Just 1 hour 1 day a week, and you could make an impact on a child’s life.

Stephanie Gunawan Piraner

Region 4

Stephanie works so hard to help her student. She goes above & beyond by tutoring multiple days a week, and is very dedicated to her student. Stephanie is caring and compassionate, and works closely with the shelter staff and her student to make sure her student’s learning gaps get smaller & smaller. I am so lucky to have her as a tutor in region 4!

Kristina Rakosh, Coordinator

With a busy work schedule and the regular long hours, we often get caught up in the little things and issues. Volunteering reminds me about the bigger picture of life. My student and I once had several three hour sessions over the course of two weeks to complete her missing assignments, and not once did I hear her complain about having to study for so long after school, and during weekends. I am so proud of her!

I would tell anyone considering volunteering as a tutor that it is a rewarding experience. It will require a lot of patience; a lot of these children have been through difficult times at such young age, so it is important to start your first few sessions with no expectations and to focus on getting to know what drives and interests them.

Casey Hoeschler

Region 5

I nominated Casey because of her professionalism and proactive attitude toward tutoring. She is clear & communicative and took initiative in planning a group field trip to the aquarium with her student. Casey’s passion for volunteering shows in the care the she puts into her tutoring sessions!

Jesse Pasquan, Coordinator

I used to volunteer tutor independently at Richstone Center but had to stop as I moved too far away; my mom sent me a write up on SOW and I immediately signed up! Education is the key to empowerment, and children experiencing homelessness need that more than anyone. During our first session, my student looked at every question on her homework and said “I don’t know this.” Last week, she finished a worksheet without hesitation and said, “I’m super smart!” You don’t have to know everything about a subject to be a good tutor! As long as you’re curious and eager, your one-on-one attention can be so meaningful to a student.

Nima Kharrazi

Region 7

Nima is an amazing volunteer that does so much for the students he works with. We really appreciate everything he does!

Danny Rico, Coordinator

Back in February 2014 I was going to have my 1st tutoring session and didn’t know what my student looked like. She didn’t know what I looked like either, and while I was waiting a girl walked up and commented on my Marvel shirt. We chatted for about 5 minutes — who my favorite is, who hers is, and so on — until she asked, “Can YOU be my tutor?” I apologized and said I was already assigned and was just waiting for my student, Samantha. She smiled really big and said, “That’s ME!”

Volunteering as a tutor will change your life. It will also give you the opportunity to help people in ways you never imagined. Just giving someone consistency and time and attention makes such a difference. It’s easily one of the best things I’ve ever done.

Frankie Olvera

Region 1

Frankie Olvera is a great tutor and is adored by his students. He has a magnetic and a compassionate personality that makes him very popular among his students. He is also thoroughly organised and prepared for every session.

Manmeet Sodhi, Coordinator

I’ve been teaching voluntarily since my early 20’s in places from Juvenile Hall to Men’s shelters, and have concluded that education is the best way to combat homelessness. If you have had the opportunity to get a solid education, then pay it forward: fight homelessness, and educate our youth. Join School on Wheels!

Gavin Sweeney

Region 9

Gavin has been an outstanding tutor! He is absolutely amazing with his student Martin and Martin’s mom cannot seem to say enough nice things about him.

Rachael Christenson, Coordinator

I began volunteering at a time when I felt overwhelmed by my understanding of social inequality. I have found that tutoring with School on Wheels is a real, tangible thing I can do to be a force for change in my community.

Pamela Miller-Shults

Region 6

Pam has demonstrated a willingness to work hard at being the best tutor she can be for her student. She is always looking for new ways to engage and help her student overcome her resistance to certain topics. Pam has also demonstrated great care and dedication with her student and being a wonderful role model.

Stephanie Swenseid, Coordinator

I googled volunteer opportunities with children, went to an information night led by Catherine Meeks, and knew wholeheartedly this was exactly what I was looking for. It made me sad that a child could grow up in an environment of homelessness, not feeling safe, not having a roof over their head or food on the table.

Volunteer tutoring is one of the most fulfilling opportunities I’ve ever had. To witness a child learn and gain knowledge week by week creates a very rich bond. When I leave her sessions to head home I feel like all my endorphins are dancing to the music on the radio in my car!

Erin Hughes

Region 10

I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with Erin this year, and I continue to be impressed with her thoughtful attention to the students she tutors. Erin strives to engage the students by creating contextual connections to the their existing academic skill-set, through both academic and enrichment activities. I’m grateful for her support to the students and tutors, as well as her additional role as a marketing and communications ambassador.

Ana Gutierrez, Program Implementation Specialist

I’ve been tutoring students in kindergarten through fifth grade at my current site, Washington Elementary, for two of my four years with School on Wheels. As the program and our resources have grown, so too have the enthusiasm among students and the camaraderie between tutors. Having tutored in both one-on-one and group formats, I believe they are equally capable of fostering a strong sense of educational community, as long as volunteers are consistent and dedicated. My favorite moments during tutoring are when students become energized after persevering through challenging exercises and then ask to tackle even more challenging work. I hope these triumphs of self-motivation demonstrate for them (as they do for me) that education can be an ongoing source of celebration.

Jul 26

Students of the Month – August 2019

Jenny

Age 9

Jenny has a wide range of interests, including K-pop, make-up, spicy food (noodles!), dancing, singing, baking, arts and crafts, painting, relaxing and sleeping. Our challenge was to raise Jenny ’s grades as much as we could within a short amount of time, and we did it! Jenny hopes to inspire the world through music, dancing, and other forms of art.

Stephanie Gunawan Piraner, Tutor

Amir

Age 11

Amir is incredibly interested in sciences. He also likes making and watching videos, and has his own YouTube channel. Amir always finishes his homework before tutoring sessions, and, with a little nudging, is happy to take on other topics he is struggling with. Whether it be while doing school work or creating his own videos, Amir shows interest, dedication, and passion.

Brian Lee, Tutor

Aaron

Age 17

Aaron actually has a wide range of interests but the one that stands out the most is independent film making, particularly documentary. Aaron is very motivated and able to focus; rather than follow text books, we often deep-dive to learn as much about a particular topic as possible, drawing connections between different time periods in history and then testing these with a few round up questions. It was a joy working with someone who was clearly engaged and giving it their best shot. I have confidence that when he puts his mind to something, he really has the potential to achieve it.

Katie Rowley / Andy Griffin, Tutors

Giovanni

Age 6

Giovanni says the root of his happiness, whether it be his trip to the beach recently or his new toy from McDonald’s, is that he always gives himself a reason to live that day. Even during times of stress, he focuses on when the good shall come and never becomes discouraged from fighting through the day. Giovanni is always hopeful and full of purpose.

Joelle, Tutor

Giovan

Age 16

Gio is a fun loving, bright student, with some of the best handwriting I have seen. We have been making great developments by playing the card game Math Wars and reading aloud. One of the special times we have during our sessions is when Gio teaches me a few words of sign language to add to my vocabulary, an experience I will treasure and use all my life!

Sasana Kachirsky, Tutor

Martin

Age 11

Since the first session we had together I’ve gotten glimpses into the challenges Martin has experienced in his young life, and they aren’t small. Still, he is ready to laugh with other students and catches onto subjects quickly. Martin has reminded me of the importance of laughter in learning; I feel lucky I get to work with him.

Gavin Sweeney , Tutor

Samantha

Age 17

Sam loves math, chemistry, and working with animals. She wants to work with kids or animals (or both), and she also wants to run a restaurant where they serve comfort food and where people can go to feel happy and full for a reasonable price. She really enjoys people, and is very open minded and sweet. She has a big heart and always wants to help in any situation.

Nima Kharrazi, Tutor

Adrianne

Age 8

Adrianne loves dogs, art, gymnastics, musical comedy, puzzles, making friends, and playing outdoors on her bicycle. She loves all animals and dreams of one day becoming a veterinarian. I have learned a greater depth of unconditional love and commitment from Sam, as well as how important it is to keep a promise and how to laugh and open my heart more fully.

Pamela Miller-Shults, Tutor
Jul 11

NBC4 and Telemundo 52 Kick Off Supporting Our Schools Donation Drive to Support School on Wheels

NBC4 and Telemundo 52 Los Angeles have launched the return of Supporting Our Schools donation drive from July 11-19. The stations are teaming up with Ralphs and Food 4 Less to provide homeless students in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura Counties with essential school supplies they need before school starts in the fall.

The public is invited to make a $1 or more donation at check-out when shopping at their local Ralphs and Food 4 Less supermarket – visit Ralphs.comand Food4Less.com to find a location near you. All proceeds will go to support School on Wheels!

Tune in to NBC4 and visit NBCLA.com/SupportingOurSchools for news stories about the need for school supplies in underserved communities.

NBC4 will also be reporting live at the following Ralphs locations – stop by to make your donation and meet the news team:

• July 11 – 2930 E 4Th St., Long Beach, CA 90814

• July 12 – 14049 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

• July 18 – 12051 Euclid Street, Garden Grove, CA 92840

• July 19 – 14919 Whittier Blvd, Whittier, CA 90605

Also, follow the effort on social media @NBCLA using hashtag #SupportingOurSchools.

Jul 1

Words Changing Worlds

Guest post by volunteer online tutor Sanskriti Reddy

“I don’t really like to read.” Since joining School on Wheels, I heard this statement an alarming number of times. As an avid reader, it confused me. What was the problem? I soon realized that part of the reason students don’t like to read is that they simply don’t know how to pick the right books.

That is why I created Words Changing Worlds. This website helps students discover new books through carefully selected lists, quizzes, and student-written reviews.

After all, an important part of reading is not only understanding the text but connecting with it. With Words Changing Worlds, I hope students find they can do just that.

Visit Words Changing Worlds at www.wordschangingworlds.com

All the way from Texas, Sanskriti Reddy has served as an Online Tutor for over a year and a half.

Jun 25

2019 Graduation Stories

June is our favorite month because we get to hear about all the successes our students have achieved during the school year.  We caught up with a few of our high school grads and their families and tutors to see their graduation photos and hear their stories.  

“My student Eric went from D’s and C’s to A’s and B’s.” tutor Anna Mack said proudly when we spoke to her on the phone last week. “We met at the shelter he was at with his family two years ago and we’ve tutored every week since.” Eric will be attending Cal Poly in the fall.

“I struggled as a Junior in high school. I was failing classes and wasn’t focused on my education. But for my senior year, I had a tutor – Brittany. I finally wasn’t on my own anymore. I became less frustrated with school and I started to feel positive and just started to do it. I want to study culinary arts or environmental science and plan to attend Los Angeles Mission College.” – Student Ossie 

“When I got my family into a shelter School on Wheels came right alongside us and helped my kids with their education. I didn’t have the education to help them myself. We are extremely proud of Ashley. She is the first in our family to graduate from high school.” – Xochitl, Ashley’s Mom

With your support, we can help more students like Eric, Ashley, and Ossie!

Jun 25

2,500 Backpacks Ready for Students!

This June the Caleb and Calder Sloan’s Awesome Foundation hosted a backpack stuffing event at this year’s Promax Conference, where attendees stuffed 2,500 backpacks full of school supplies for our students. The event was organized by the Sydney Paige Foundation, who sourced the backpacks and supplies and set up the event. A huge thank you to everyone involved, especially the School on Wheels volunteers and staff who helped unpack, unload, and reload the thousands of backpacks and school supplies – no easy task.  


The storage units US Storage Centers provided at the La Crescenta location.

A special shout out to US Storage Centers – they reached out to us around community partnerships they wanted to build in anticipation of the opening of their new Compton location and the timing couldn’t have been better. The storage units they provided at their La Crescenta location for these backpacks was offered just in the nick of time. We are so happy to partner with an organization that supports our mission to provide children the educational support they need!

We can’t wait to start distributing these awesome backpacks full of supplies to our students for the start of a new school year!