Category: Our Volunteers

Mar 13

Annual Safety Update

Every year we publish our safety policies to remind volunteers of how important it is to comply with these mandated policies. At School on Wheels, we do everything we can to protect our students – the most vulnerable children in our society. We also want to safeguard our volunteers from potential risks. Please review these mandatory policies again to help ensure the safety of our students, as well as our volunteers. 

Tutoring Policy

  • Tutoring must take place in a public area and has to be scheduled so that two or more tutors are present at the same time and place. For smaller locations, libraries or other public locations with only one tutor, the tutor must work with their student within sight and earshot of another adult (shelter staff/ residents, library staff or parents).
  • Tutors must refrain from initiating physical contact with students and must report immediately to their coordinator or School on Wheels staff if they feel uncomfortable in a situation.
  • Tutors are required to wear their School on Wheels badges to identify they are tutors and so that our students become comfortable with our name and logo. Please let your coordinator know if you need a new badge.

Field Trip Safety Policy

  • Tutors who wish to take students on field trips must consult and follow the SOW field trip policy. Tutors cannot provide transportation outside of this policy. If tutoring takes place outside a shelter, the parent/guardian is responsible for the student’s attendance and transportation. All parents/guardians must stay at the location for the duration of the off-site session.

Logging Policy

  • Volunteers are required to log all tutoring hours via the School on Wheels database. Logging is a critical and a mandatory part of being a volunteer in our program. This policy is first and foremost for the safety and security of our students, but also to protect our tutors. With accurate logging, we can identify exactly who, where and when tutoring takes place.

The safety of our students is a sacred trust. We cannot compromise that. I know you agree. Thank you so much for being a wonderful volunteer and ensuring the safety of your student. If you have any questions, please contact your coordinator. 

Catherine Meek
Executive Director

Mar 12

Ambassador Volunteer Program Kicks Off

In order to support and raise awareness of the work that our volunteer tutors do every day we are excited to announce our new volunteer ambassador program! Ambassadors are volunteers that are taking on additional responsibilities to help build community amongst existing tutors, recruit new tutors, and raise awareness of our work. Like you, these ambassadors support School on Wheels because they are concerned about the well-being of children experiencing homelessness and they believe in the power of education to change their lives.

We had our program launch event on March 9th and we want to extend a very big thank you to Bunny James for donating snack packs for our ambassadors as well as to Children’s Institute for allowing us to use their beautiful facilities!


Oct 31

A rough start leads to a happy pumpkin

My student, seven year old Nick, has been doing great in school! When I first met him, he didn’t seem to enjoy school very much. He definitely didn’t like seeing me once a week. He didn’t want to talk to me, he didn’t want tutoring, and he basically had a bad attitude every time he would see me. His behavior was not great, to say the least. His mom would thank me often for having so much patience with him.

I have been tutoring him for about seven or eight months now. Every time he sees me now, he gets so excited! He seems to enjoy school very much! He loves math, and he’s always so excited to show me how much he has learned! He’s such a bright kid, and I’m so happy I get to tutor him once a week. I’ve seen him progress academically, emotionally, and behaviorally. I’m so proud of him!

Most of all, I am so grateful that School on Wheels has given me the opportunity to be a light in the path of a young soul who just needs a little bit of guidance in the right direction. Nick is still so young and has his whole life ahead of him! I hope and pray that I will make even the slightest impact on his life to help him succeed in the future. Nick has so much academic potential! I’m very excited to see him succeed step by step. I have posted his latest masterpiece, a minion pumpkin!

Alexis Chavez
School on Wheels Tutor

Aug 1

A Field Trip Surprise

Volunteer Spotlight

We would like to thank our Star Donor and Volunteer Shobana Ranganathan and her family for their generous donation to School on Wheels. This Spring, Shobana contacted us with an exciting idea – to celebrate her husband’s 40th birthday by sponsoring a field trip for our students. Recently, Shobana, her husband Shankar, and their two children accompanied more than twenty School on Wheels students to the Santa Barbara Zoo! The children enjoyed an amazing day. They met all sorts of animals, fed giraffes, and had a pizza picnic. Thank you, Shobana, for your wonderful idea and happy birthday, Shankar. We are so thankful you chose to share your special day with School on Wheels children!

Oct 1

Generations Connected

 

Our Generations Connected initiative, sponsored by a generous grant from the Eisner Foundation, focuses on matching students with older adult volunteers for one-on-one tutoring. These intergenerational matches are an integral part of our program, and they are equally beneficial for students and volunteers. Tutors with more life experience inspire and connect with students and learn from them too.

School on Wheels provides ongoing support for our older volunteers. We also offer quarterly regional meet-ups and special volunteer opportunities for those who want to give more time.

And… tutors who are 50+ stay 50% longer tutoring a School on Wheels student!

Read more about our amazing volunteers here.

Partners:

Aug 21

Our Tutor is a Superhero!

Nancy, Lyann and Shelene

Lyann’s mom, Shelene, heard about School on Wheels from the shelter they were staying at four years ago, when Lyann was just 8. We caught up with them a couple of weeks ago to find out how they are all doing.

“It’s not just homework that Nancy helps Lyann with, but life,” said Shelene. “She confides in Nancy and tells her what’s going on at school rather than me. She tells Nancy her problems and struggles–and she has a lot. She has been through two different surgeries and struggles with hearing and reading.

Nancy is like family now. She has become a friend/mentor/big sister to Lyann. Sometimes I am so exhausted and busy, and Nancy is my superhero backup! She takes time out of her life to be here every week. She rides her bike in the LA heat to get here, and she goes above and beyond as a tutor. She turns up religiously every week for my child! What can I do to express how thankful I am? As a mom, it makes you feel good to have someone there for your child. Nancy is not a pushover, though; she knows when it’s time to work and when it’s time to play! There are no words to express my gratitude for Nancy. If School on Wheels didn’t exist, we wouldn’t have Nancy in our life. She is the perfect tutor, and I know your other tutors must be just as nice because they are doing this for free, not because they are being told to but because they want to help kids in our community. It takes a village to raise kids, and I want to thank School on Wheels for being there for me and my family.”

Nancy Dobbs Owen is a professional dancer and became a volunteer tutor with School on Wheels in 2013.

“I’m not sure how great a tutor I am. I am really more of a big sister. I turn up every week and make sure to be on time. I think being reliable has been a big help to the family and especially for my student’s mom, Shelene. I love Lyann’s mom. She is active in the kids’ school and has raised four beautiful children who are polite, kind and respectful. I have such huge respect for her. Lyann is going into 6th grade, but she has a number of learning disabilities. She had a stroke/seizure when she was 6, and this left her with partial hearing. She has trouble reading; she sees words upside down and back to front. Her vocabulary is amazing, though, and she uses words like ‘astounding’ and ‘inspirational’! She does get frustrated with school and can give up on herself quickly. That said, she loves math and science and is curious about the world and the way it works. I work with her teachers and let them know that they have backup. I am now Lyann’s emergency contact at school. The whole family is very important to me. They have become my family, my people. I am grounded with Lyann.

I always advocate for School on Wheels and try to get my friends involved, but emphasize that if you’re gonna do it, do it! If you bond with a student, you have to treat your relationship with respect. If you’re not willing to go there, do something else. When you are working with kids, they need someone that does not judge them. They need to know they are safe and that you are there to answer their questions, be their advocate: be truthful, loving, demanding, but always kind.

The day after the 2016 election we had a session. I didn’t know how politically aware Lyann was, and I learned that day that she is very aware of the world and what is going on in it. It was the hardest tutoring session we’ve had. Lyann was upset. Her mom is from Belize, and Lyann didn’t want her mom sent away by THAT MAN. She said he didn’t like people that looked like her, that the country would become meaner, that the ‘girl was smarter.’ She is a very old soul and worries about her family. She wants to protect people and be a good person. She cares. I tried to alleviate her fears, but that was my hardest tutoring session to date.”