Our students living in shelters, motels, group homes, and on the streets of Southern California are about to start what will be one of the most challenging school years of their young lives and the odds not stacked in their favor.
The way we serve our students may look a little different this year; still, our mission is the same. Watch Executive Director Charles Evans and President of the Board Josh Fein talk about 2019 and the changes 2020 has brought and read messages from our students, parents, and volunteers. Your work as a tutor, donor, cheerleader, and advocate for kids devastated by homelessness is more important now than ever. Please read about the impact you have made in our annual report,
In late June, 40 desktop models were wiped of their data, sanitized, boxed up and sent to Children’s Bureau, a Los Angeles-area nonprofit that supports at-risk children and their parents. Another 30 laptops went to School on Wheels, which provides free tutoring and mentoring services for homeless children in six counties, including Orange County.
School on Wheels Executive Director Charles Evans said homeless students have been particularly hard hit during the pandemic, as the shift toward distance learning has removed personal connections and made technology ownership essential.
“A lot of our students are already behind as it is,” Evans said. “When they don’t have access to a teacher or to resources, it makes it a lot easier for them to fall even further behind.”
Since shelter-in-place restrictions began, School on Wheels has had to find creative ways to rebuild its erstwhile in-person tutoring model into a virtual one. The organization is actively seeking funds and hardware to accommodate students living in and learning from motels, shelters and vehicles.
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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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.
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.