Category: In The News

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!

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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.

May 28

May 2020 Update From Our Executive Director

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.