Huffington Post and USC Annenberg created a partnership to explore what’s working in Los Angeles and beyond. The series focused on the positives in the world, rather than the negatives we are constantly hearing about. School on Wheels is honored to have been the subject of one of these editorials and to be considered part of “What’s Working in LA.”
“For the nonprofit School On Wheels, change begins when people focus on what they can do to help. ‘We can’t end homelessness, but we can help a student experiencing homelessness with their school work and studies,’ says Sinead Chilton, the Marketing Director at School on Wheels.
Chilton has been with the organization for more than 10 years. School On Wheels is a nonprofit that provides one-on-one tutoring to homeless children throughout Southern California. Chilton started out tutoring and now she’s taken on a director role in addition to weekly visits with students.
‘My very first student moved out of state, but we still keep in touch via Facebook,’ Chilton said. ‘He is at college training to be a mechanic and that makes me very proud to have had a positive influence in a time in his life that was very chaotic and traumatic.'”
This scholarship was created to honor Catherine McAuley
Catherine was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1920. She left school at age 14 to help support her family. As an intelligent woman who saw how her lack of education impacted her, she was determined that the same fate would not happen to her children. Many people in the neighborhood never finished basic schooling. And no one in her family had ever gone to college until her children did.
The purpose of the Catherine McAuley Scholarship is to improve the life of a homeless child through education. Scholarships are available to break down any barriers that exist for homeless students in getting a quality education. This includes, but is not limited to, any level of college, trade schools, arts/music programs, educational summer programs, apprenticeships or enrichment classes.
Requirements – must be ONE of the following:
Currently enrolled in tutoring with the School on Wheels program,
Previously enrolled in tutoring with the School on Wheels program within the past 3 years,
Previously enrolled in tutoring more than 3 years ago but now pursuing post-secondary education
All students must have been tutored for at least 3 months and be a student 25 years or younger.
Letter of recommendation from a tutor, teacher, or employer
Current, unofficial school transcript and/or report card
Applications are usually reviewed on a quarterly basis and are due at the end of each of the following months: February, May, August, and November. If you are applying for entrance to a specific program or class with a deadline, please give the scholarship committee at least 3 weeks to make a decision. Submitting an application does not guarantee you will receive a scholarship. Decisions are based on multiple factors, including the strength of the application, and how the money will be used.
Please address and mail application with all the required materials to:
School on Wheels, Inc.
Catherine McAuley Scholarship
600 E. 7th Street, Ste 109
Los Angeles, CA 90021
Or email to: Scholarship Committee Leader, Lisette Gaeta, at lgaeta [a] schoolonwheels.org.
Contribute to the Scholarship Fund:
You may contribute the the Scholarship fund through our Donation page. Choose the Catherine McAuley Scholarship from the drop-down menu.
“Education is not preparation for life. Education is life itself.” – John Dewey
Anne and Cameron Deguzman, School on Wheels Tutors of the Month
Region 1 – Los Angeles
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. 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 . 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. 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. 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. 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
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!
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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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
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!”
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.