Apr 1

Tutors of the Month – April 2015

Cameron and Anne Tutors of the Month
Anne and Cameron Deguzman, School on Wheels Tutors of the Month

Region 1 – Los Angeles

Amarilis Bolaños, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Amarilis Bolaños. Amarilis has been an amazing School on Wheels tutor and tutor coordinator for the past year. Her creativity and passion for teaching have made learning fun for the students that she works with. Amarilis is always willing to help when needed, even on her non tutoring days. Her assistance as a tutor coordinator has been of tremendous help. Each week Amarilis provides consistency to her students, logs her hours regularly and uses creative techniques to engage the students in learning. Here is what Amarilis has to say about her experience as a tutor:

I could not have been happier when I stumbled upon the website and learned that School on Wheels combines both the issues of homelessness and education, two topics of interest to me. I was excited to be able to become a volunteer and tutor a group of teens. Although it can be a bit difficult to work with teenagers, it has also been fulfilling, especially when they open up about their struggles in school and personal life. School On Wheels has taught me how important it is to be persistent and how valuable volunteering can be. Being a volunteer not only makes a small difference in the students’ lives, but in mine as well. A year later I could not have asked for a better organization to be a part of.

Thank you for your dedication; you are such an amazing tutor and tutor coordinator, Amarilis!

Marisol Farfan, Regional Coordinator

Region 3 – Westside

Ruben Maldonado, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Ruben Maldonado. My experience tutoring with School on Wheels has been fantastic. I joined School on Wheels expecting an academic setting, primarily working with the student on homework and ensuring he stays on track. Not only did my student and I work diligently on his homework, we were able to connect. Simply listening to him about his school week and his struggles helped me understand him and evaluate my approach in tutoring and mentoring him. It was a reminder to me that oftentimes students underestimate themselves or are unaware of their potential to do well. However, with some guidance, they can develop a love for learning and translate that to success in school. Altogether, this makes for an enriching experience and has helped me grow as well. Thanks for the opportunity, School on Wheels!

Blue Mc Donnell, Regional Coordinator

Region 4 – Long Beach, San Pedro

Jessica Prosper Seymour, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Jessica Prosper Seymour . I found School on Wheels in September 2014 when I was searching for a way to serve the homeless in Long Beach. It is been a greatly rewarding experience; my student A’janna has been a source of inspiration to me to search the internet for interactive and engaging projects to do with her. A’janna loves science! Whenever I see her get excited about some project I’ve brought, I am reminded why I make the extra effort. It has been a great privilege to work with her; I hope I can continue to stimulate her curiosity in science.

Jessica has been an extraordinary tutor and is the Tutor Coordinator at her shelter now. Thank you so much for going above and beyond, Jessica. You make all the difference!

Louis Mena, Regional Coordinator

Region 5 – Echo Park, Hollywood, Highland Park, Silverlake, Mid-City

Ruba Hsen, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Ruba Hsen. I’m so proud to honor Ruba as the Tutor of the Month. She started with School on Wheels last December and has done an amazing job! From the very first session Ruba has been supportive of her student. Besides helping her student receive some of her best school grades, Ruba is preparing her student for success by helping her organize a vision board to see her dreams!

In her own words:

I joined School on Wheels shortly after moving to Los Angeles. I wanted to become part of the team because I have always had a passion for helping people and getting involved in my community. Education has helped to make my dreams come true; I appreciate every teacher and mentor who has believed in me along the way. Madison is so much fun to work with and has a positive attitude about learning. I admire her in so many ways. Thanks to School on Wheels for giving me this amazing opportunity!

Lancella Hunter, Regional Coordinator

Region 7 – San Fernando Valley

Debbie Bloom, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Debbie Bloom. Debbie has been an amazing addition to our organization since September 2014. She is a wonderful tutor who cares a lot about her student and proudly raves about him and his accomplishments. In her own words:

As my retirement from the Los Angeles Unified School District was nearing, I started feeling nostalgic about all the students I taught and counseled during my thirty years of employment. I imagined how I’d miss those bright eyes, curious faces, and exciting learning moments! To enjoy my retirement, I needed to stay connected to the world of education. When I found Schools on Wheels, I knew it was the place for me. I wanted the opportunity to work with students who, unfortunately, have had too much instability in their lives to be successful at school. My experience with Schools on Wheels has, thus far, exceeded my expectations. I’ve been blessed to be paired with an amazing fifth grade boy, who fills me with faith and cheer during every tutoring session.

Thank you, Debbie, for being such a caring, consistent and committed tutor!

Lisette Gaeta, Regional Coordinator

Region 10 – Orange County

Anne and Cameron Deguzman, School on Wheels Tutors of the Month

Anne and Cameron Deguzman. Anne and her son Cameron are definitely a dynamic duo! They started tutoring two siblings back in August of 2014 and have continued tutoring them since. Both of their students have shown incredible progress; the students’ mother and their students are so thankful. Anne has many years of experience homeschooling her own children. So she brings extra materials for their sessions that are fun and engaging. Cameron is wise beyond his years and is really dedicated to his student. They are a perfect team and we are so grateful to have them as volunteers at School on Wheels!

In their own words:

We have both enjoyed volunteering for School on Wheels this past year! Both Bruce and J.R. have such adventurous, warm personalities which immediately drew us in. We are greeted week after week with smiles and stories that make the time spent with them feel too short. The four of us together are dedicated to making learning fun and interesting, whether it’s practicing spelling words, working on math problems, science assignments, or brain teasers!

We were first introduced to Schools on Wheels from a flier we saw posted on a bulletin board at UCLA. After learning more about School On Wheels, we felt like it was a good volunteer fit for the both of us. We wanted to be a part of helping others see the potential within themselves and the role education plays in helping to achieve one’s goals for a bright future.

Lilian Pahn, Regional Coordinator

Online Tutoring

Folu Oyefeso, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Folu Oyefeso. It is an honor to highlight Folu Oyefeso as our online tutor of the month. Folu moved to Washington to continue his education after originally joining School on Wheels as an in-person volunteer. We are lucky to have Folu. Miles away, he continues to make a difference.

In his own words:

Overall, online tutoring works well for me because I can adjust sessions to easily work within my schedule. The location doesn’t matter too. Since starting online tutoring in January, my experience has been very eye-opening and inspiring! The look on students’ faces when they understand a new concept is invaluable.

One of my greatest successes was when I received an email from a student after our final session. In the email, he said how much my tutoring meant to him. He even referred to me as an older brother, which meant so much to me. Fortunately, the student was able to move forward from the program to a better environment. I hope to continue tutoring as long as I can with School On Wheels!

Ian Chan, Digital Learning Coordinator

Apr 1

Students of the Month – April 2015

Bruce, School on Wheels Student of the Month

Region 1 – Los Angeles

Yesenia, School on Wheels Student of the Month

Yesenia, 9th Grade. When I first met Yesenia, she was shy about speaking the little English that she knew. She, however, is not a shy person. Soon enough, her bubbly personality lit up our sessions. As I continued to work with her, I realized how intelligent Yesenia is. Her English dramatically improved; I was constantly surprised with her progress and impressed by her thought process. Whenever we worked on writing sentences for her English homework, I was moved by what she asked me to help her translate. When I helped her spell words in English, she would write them down correctly. I always found it funny that she would pat herself on the back, saying, “Me amo,” or in English, “I love me.” She’s such a positive individual with a great sense of humor. It has been a wonderful experience working with her!

Amarilis Bolaños, Tutor

Region 3 – Westside

Dillon, School on Wheels Student of the Month

Dillon, 2nd Grade. I had the privilege of meeting Dillon this winter. Dillon is a great student who is full of energy, intelligence, and a rather contagious optimistic attitude that made our tutoring sessions a blast. Each week he was ready to tackle his next homework assignment and was motivated to finish his weekly assignments days in advance. When we weren’t working hard on homework, we had interesting conversations that expressed his imaginativeness and genuine curiosity for all things math and science. This included conversations about the subtle wonders of Newton’s Laws of Motion and the physics of Newton’s Cradle! I have no doubt that Dillon has the potential to do great things in his future and to achieve his dream of becoming a scientist. I wish him all the best!

Ruben Maldonado, Tutor

Region 4 – Long Beach, San Pedro

A’janna, School on Wheels Student of the Month

A’janna, 5th Grade. I feel as if I’ve hit the jackpot with my student A’janna! She is curious about all things science related, which has challenged me to prepare interactive projects and experiments for us to do. She often tries to finish all her homework BEFORE I arrive when I let her know I have materials for a new project. I greatly enjoy our sessions and the opportunity to encourage her love of science.

In the photo, we sewed together the major organs of the human digestive system, and used pipe cleaners to represent the small and large intestines. A’janna asked for a project on the digestive system because a different group in her class was assigned this topic and she wanted to learn more about it. Her curiosity knows no bounds!

Jessica Prosper Seymour, Tutor

Region 5 – Echo Park, Hollywood, Highland Park, Silverlake, Mid-City

Madison, School on Wheels Student of the Month

Madison, 12th Grade. When I first met Madison, she greeted me with a loud “Hi Miss!” She explained to me that she had not turned in a single Algebra assignment since starting school because she doesn’t know how to do the math. Over the past 2 1/2 months, Madison has amazed me with her progress. She understands and retains what I show her and works hard the entire time we are together. I was so excited when she came home from school one day with her first graded assignment in Algebra. Madison got her first A and I couldn’t be more proud of her! I truly believe she will become an awesome nurse one day!

Way to go, Madison!!

Ruba Hsen, Tutor

Region 7 – San Fernando Valley

Jeremy, School on Wheels Student of the Month

Jeremy, 5th Grade. Jeremy is a 5th grader who has a genuine love of learning and a mind that works as fast as a bullet train. He’s a high spirited young man who has learned to channel his energy in positive directions. Jeremy is considerate of the children and adults around him, always offering to help others and do more than is expected of him. He expresses himself articulately and has a wonderful sense of humor. Our sessions have consisted of completing homework and reviewing any concepts he doesn’t understand. We then chat about the content in his reading comprehension and other issues in his life. Finally, as a reward for his consistently excellent work and attitude, we play a game. Of all the games at his shelter, and there are dozens of them, Jeremy nearly always picks Scrabble, which happens to be my all-time favorite game. It’s been a joy to share my skills and knowledge of this challenging game with a boy who absorbs the information like a pro. I hope I’m making a difference in this incredible boy’s life. Perhaps one day, when he’s a successful adult, Jeremy will remember the lady who enjoyed his company, laughed at his jokes, marveled at his intelligence, and enjoyed playing Scrabble with him.

Debbie Bloom, Tutor

Region 10 – Southern Orange County

Bruce and JR, School on Wheels Students of the Month

Bruce, 6th Grade and JR, 5th Grade. We are amazed at Bruce’s giftedness in seeing patterns in mathematical brain teasers! He loves tackling difficult problems and often shows us alternative ways to find an answer. Sometimes we feel like we are the ones being tutored! He is so upbeat and never runs out of things to say. Bruce is an analytical thinker with an adventurous spirit.

JR comes to sessions ready to work! If he completes his homework assignments before the tutoring session ends, he is open to extra review problems or mathematical brain teasers. We can always count on JR to share interesting facts that he is learning from his science class. He has a love for learning new things…and did we mention his love for paper airplanes?! We would not be surprised if one day he is building real planes and flying them too!

Anne and Cameron Deguzman, Tutors

Online Tutoring

Kaliyah, School on Wheels Student of the Month

Kaliyah, 2nd Grade. Each tutoring session I have with Kaliyah is filled with enthusiasm and humor! She is always excited to approach complex math problems and apply newly learned concepts to spelling and reading exercises. She has also developed a habit of writing down specific concepts that she struggled with during the session. She does this towards the end of the session and then studies these concepts during the week. During the following sessions, I quiz her on the concepts that she originally struggled with, and she is able to answer all of my questions with ease. I highly admire her work ethic because she makes the effort to study outside of our tutoring sessions. Such qualities and habits will pave the way for a bright future for Kaliyah.

According to Kaliyah’s teacher:

Kaliyah received 100% on her spelling test this week and she is on grade level now. Kaliyah says that her favorite part of tutoring is when “I get to write out all of my math problems and if I get it wrong my tutor allows me to do it again!”

Shivi Singh, Tutor

Mar 1

March 2015 Newsletter

There is such tragedy and sorrow in our world. Every day, we learn of murder and mayhem, of war and hateful acts. There is also much beauty and joy. Our beloved Founder, Agnes Stevens, died last month. She was a visionary and the most positive person I’ve met. She saw beauty everywhere. She did not let anything stand in her way when it came to helping homeless children.

Emily Austin, a young woman at the beginning of life’s journey, also died, killed tragically in a car accident. Out of this heartbreak, came hope for our homeless students. Sue Taylor, President of OMD Entertainment, established a memorial fund in her honor and over 50 of Emily’s colleagues are volunteering to tutor our homeless students in her honor. This is what Sue said about Emily:

“When our friend and co-worker, Emily Austin, was killed so suddenly, our company looked for a way to channel our feelings of love for her and our grief at the tragedy to do something good in her honor. School on Wheels was an answered prayer. It allows us to give back to children, upended by circumstance, who are asking for help. Helping homeless children was always a passion of Emily’s and her family. The flexibility, training, organization, and reputation of School on Wheels has provided a tailor-made solution for us to give back in memory of our dear Emily.”

What wonderful legacies these women have left. They will continue to inspire us to help our students succeed in their number one job as a child: going to school and learning.

Catherine signature
Catherine Meek
Executive Director 

Click here to see more from our March Newsletter

Feb 13

In Memoriam, Agnes Stevens 1935 – 2015

Agnes Stevens Founder of School on Wheels died February 13, 2015

I am so sad to tell you that Agnes Stevens, Founder of School on Wheels, died last night after a long illness.  For those of us who knew and loved Agnes, this is a huge loss.  She was one of those very special human beings who inspired everyone around her.  She had such courage and the vision to see beyond all the road blocks in life. She had an unwavering belief in and passion for School on Wheels.  Agnes always said it takes so little to make a difference in a child’s life.  She certainly did that for the thousands of homeless children whose lives have been touched by School on Wheels.

She was an extraordinary woman who made a lasting difference in our lives and this world.  We all wanted to be a part of making Agnes’ dream of helping homeless children come true.  We will miss her every day.

With deep sorrow, Catherine

Catherine Meek, Executive Director

Here’s a link to the Agnes Stevens Memorial Fund

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Feb 1

February 2015 Newsletter

Greetings!

When we developed our three-year strategic plan at the end of 2011, we established an ambitious and audacious goal to double the number of students we tutor. And with your help, encouragement and support, we did!

You made last year the best yet for School on Wheels and all our students. 3,129 homeless students in Southern California were tutored by 1,816 volunteers in 2014! We awarded scholarships to 12 outstanding students, presented the prestigious President’s Volunteer Service Award to 167 remarkable volunteers, provided backpacks, schools supplies, uniforms, bus tokens and computers to over 6,000 homeless kids, and you, our kind and very generous friends donated over $1.5 million in gifts.

We can only accomplish this work because of you. With one in every 30 kids homeless in America, we have much to do. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the magnitude of the numbers, but we can’t forget that each of those statistics is a child, a child who is scared and lonely and falling behind in school. You provide a critical benefit to that child, one that literally has the power to change the course of her life. You enrich and make a lasting difference in the lives of thousands of homeless children.

With deep gratitude and admiration,

Catherine signature
Catherine Meek
Executive Director

Click here to see more from our February Newsletter