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.
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.
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.
Before the pandemic, we had already tutored more than 1,600 students experiencing homelessness with 1,250 volunteer tutors this year alone. We were well on our way to achieving—or even exceeding—our goal of tutoring 3,700 students. Our new improved literacy and digital learning programs were in full swing, fostering a love of reading and narrowing the digital divide for our students. Then, suddenly, normal life ceased and our reality transformed. Many people adapted. Meanwhile, our most vulnerable children face increased challenges in receiving a quality education. We at School on Wheels are determined more than ever to ensure our students get the help that they desperately need and deserve.
Today, we are focused on making sure that our students have access to a tutor, the internet, and technology so that they too can get online and access their classes. We are collaborating with our shelter partners, school districts, charter schools and other nonprofit partners to maximize our impact.
With your continued support, here is our most recent progress:
Conducted outreach to shelters, families and our volunteer tutors to gather information on their greatest needs and issues.
Strategized with LAUSD, LAHSA, LACOE and Mayor Garcetti’s team on ways to best support our students.
Partnered with several organizations and other nonprofits to distribute over 3,000 books, school supplies, Chromebooks, Wi-fi hotspots, tablets, kindles, hygiene kits, activity and science kits, and educational games and toys.
Re-trained our active volunteer base to tutor online and revamped our advanced training to address the new social and emotional needs caused by the pandemic.
Currently, more than 350 volunteer tutors—with the support of our staff—are regularly meeting with their students. That number continues to increase as more and more students are referred to our program.
We recognize that this pandemic will impact the world long-term, and while our lives will hopefully return to some semblance of normalcy, we expect online tutoring to become increasingly important for our students’ success over time. Our resource center is open for deliveries, but our staff is still working from home. As summer approaches, we need your support now more than ever, so that our kids don’t fall behind even further and have fun activities (albeit online) to keep them learning all summer long.