Category: Star Students

Nov 1

Students of the Month – November 2016

Skid Row Learning Center:

Andrea, School on Wheels Student of the Month

Andrea (5th Grade) is an avid reader, choir member, exemplary student, and appointed “Digital Learning Center Captain”. Leading by example, Andrea always completes her work before helping other students. She is a joy to work with and we appreciate her hard work and dedication.


Region 6 – Inland Empire:

Jenna, School on Wheels Student of the Month

Jenna (2nd Grade) – “Right away, I realized what a special student Jenna was. She is exceptionally talented, both artistically and mathematically. Despite missing some schooling, Jenna took it upon herself to keep learning by downloading educational games and practicing her skills on her own. Her improvement and success as a student is due to her love and thirst for knowledge. I love how she comes to our sessions ready to learn with a positive and open mind!” – Michelle Chebeir, Tutor


Region 9 – Santa Barbara:

Ariana, School on Wheels Student of the Month

Ariana (4th Grade) – “On our first tutoring session, I asked Ariana what her favorite day of the week was. She answered, ‘Tuesday – because that’s the day that you come.’ Hearing this sweet answer got me already excited to work with her. Ariana really likes school, spending time with her family, and visiting her extended family in Mexico. She also enjoys playing tag, riding to the beach on her bicycle, and going to the mall. Her favorite subject in school is Math.” – Claudia Gack, Tutor


Region 10 – South Orange County:

Julian, School on Wheels Student of the Month

Julian (4th Grade) – “My student is really smart and loves school. We share a love of science, studying the weather and geology, and even the requirements of what it takes to be an engineer.” – Deb Woods, Tutor



Region 12 – North Orange County:

Phillip, School on Wheels Student of the Month

Phillip (7th Grade) – “I have seen nothing but positive growth in this intelligent young man. He comes not only prepared to learn, but eager as well. His exceptional effort has been well-documented and recognized during each of our tutoring sessions. Phillip has a very bright future if he keeps working hard, and I firmly believe he is well-equipped to go above and beyond to achieve whatever stands in his way.” – Richard Vela, Tutor


Online Tutoring:

Nick, School on Wheels Student of the Month

Nick (9th Grade) – “Nick showed curiosity at first, but would get easily distracted. There were more than a few times when he was frustrated and I was worried he’d give up, but he’s demonstrated persistence and has completed each project we’ve tackled. We use Khan Academy to work on coding and computer science and he gets so excited when he figures things out. Once, when a passerby asked what he was doing, he said, “I’m hacking.” I loved it!” – Tomer Gurantz – Online Tutor

Oct 3

Students of the Month – October 2016

Skid Row Learning Center:

Jordan, School on Wheels Student of the Month

Jordan (12th Grade) is polite, respectful, and enthusiastic. He goes above and beyond his peers and provides an immense amount of assistance with projects at the Skid Row Learning Center. He works additional hours to complete tasks, and comes straight from school to accomplish his goals at the Learning Center. His dedication to helping improve the experience for other students is fantastic too!


Region 1 – East LA:

Arianna, School on Wheels Student of the Month

Arianna (3rd Grade) has made great progress and we are very proud of all her hard work. She started off shy and quiet and didn’t want to participate in group tutoring. She was matched with a tutor one on one and after a couple of weeks, Arianna started to come out of her shell. She now looks forward to tutoring and even attends group tutoring twice a week. Her mom says it’s her favorite part of the day!


Region 3 – Westside:

Andrew, School on Wheels Student of the Month

Andrew (4th Grade) – “Even though every session isn’t wildly successful, I know that every time we meet, Andrew is making progress. One of the greatest gifts is seeing Andrew’s eyes light up when he’s finally able to solve the math problem correctly or appropriately pronounce that stubborn word. One of my favorite things about our sessions is when we wrap with 10-15 minutes of group reading on the bean bags.” Sevag Salibian, Tutor


Region 4 – Long Beach, South Bay:

Gerald, School on Wheels Student of the Month

Gerald (5th Grade) is a bright, motivated 10 year old who shows up every week ready to work and learn. “The very first time I tutored with him I made up some practice math problems, and after one or two he looked over at me and said “Come on, give me some hard ones!” That demonstrates exactly the type of person he is, always curious and ready to dig into his school work. He’s a great kid and a real pleasure to work with.” Steve Cox, Tutor


Region 5 – Hollywood, Silverlake, Pasadena:

Angel's Flight Group Home, School on Wheels Student of the Month

Angel’s Flight Group Home – This month we would like to highlight ALL the students at Angel’s Flight group home, who participate in group tutoring each week. The students at the home have been working hard to improve academically each week. They are always prepared and ready to learn. After school work is done they enjoy playing chess and putting together art projects with the tutors. Keep up the excellent work!


Region 10 – South Orange County:

James, School on Wheels Student of the Month

James (1st Grade) – “When I first met him, as a kindergartener, we shared our common interests (love of animals and ice cream, among others). I was immediately charmed and impressed. We have worked on listening, communication, reading, letters and numbers. I remind him that he is a good thinker and a hard worker.” Ann Buckley, Tutor


Online Tutoring:

Montia, School on Wheels Student of the Month

Montia (12th Grade) – “First of all, I’m so, so proud of Montia. YAY! She is awesome! I remember when Montia told me about receiving extra credit on her test, she was so ecstatic. We sat in front of our screens just cheering. It was such a genuine moment. Montia has so much potential to achieve great things in the future. She has developed a great work ethic, and she has a kind heart. I am fortunate to be her tutor and mentor.” Carol Wang – Online Tutor

Sep 1

Students of the Month – September 2016

Skid Row Learning Center

Myiona, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Myiona, 1st Grade. Sometimes I am reminded that the school system is supposed to be a launching pad for future success. Myiona, a reticent but precocious 1st grader, was that bright reminder this month for two reasons. She impressed tutors and staff with her indefatigable work ethic because she completed long worksheets without breaks or complaints. Also, the rate at which Myiona learns amazes me. After giving her a two-minute lesson on subtraction, she was doing whole worksheets by herself, doing them mentally with no finger counting needed. Myiona’s potent mix of diligence and incredible processing power led me to believe that she can become literally anyone she wants to be, from rocket scientist to president. I’m beyond pleased that the volunteer tutors and staff at School On Wheels were able to quickly close her educational gaps before she left the Skid Row Learning Center, reminding me of why School On Wheels’ mission is vital in this world.

Brian Lopez, Skid Row Learning Center Instructor

Region 4 – Long Beach, South Bay

Paula, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Paula, Kindergarten . From day one, Paula has been a “happy-virus” who seems to have an unsurpassable supply of giggles which she gives out bountifully to those around her. She shares wonderful stories with great imagination; she teaches me how to color within the lines, and she always seems to win during memory games. She is the ball of sunshine I look forward to seeing every week; and after each session, I’m inspired to share her happy virus with everyone around me.

Janet Cho, Tutor

Region 5 – Hollywood, Silverlake, Pasadena

Gabriel, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Gabriel. Gabriel is a great student! He has been with our program for over two years and in that time has definitely improved and excelled. At times he has made small strides, but nevertheless he continues to progress and more forward. Keep up the good work, Gabriel!

Michael Erzingher, Tutor

Region 6 – Inland Empire

Arlenne, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Arlenne, Kindergarten. One of my favorite students is a little girl named Arlenne. She is only five years old, but very motivated to learn during tutoring. Her mom thought her teachers didn’t give enough homework to practice at home; so we found worksheets to practice and extend concepts like rhyming and adding. Although the work was sometimes challenging for Arlenne, she never gave up, and in the end succeeded with a big, proud smile. Completing this work together seemed to make both of our days!

Megan Robbins, Tutor

Region 7 – San Fernando Valley

John, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– John, 8th Grade. John just graduated from middle school and will be entering high school in a few weeks. His ambition is to be a veterinarian because he loves animals, as evidenced by the fact that he has three dogs! He enjoys playing video games and watching baseball on television. He is hopeful the Angels will win the World Series in the near future. He is also an excellent ping pong player – see the picture he drew for you.

Isaac Weingart, Tutor

Region 12 – North Orange County

Sunny, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Sunny, 12th Grade. I have been tutoring/mentoring Sunny for three years and have seen her grow from an eighth grader who thought she knew it all to a soon-to-be senior in high school. Sunny has her eyes set toward a bright future. We work together on schoolwork, but as she gets older and her classes become more difficult, our relationship has turned into more of a mentorship. We work on life skills and talk about decisions as much as we solve trigonometry problems. Sunny has faced a lot of tough choices and has shown maturity and insight beyond her years. Sunny also works very hard in school and strives for excellence in all she does. We have recently begun taking college tours and looking at majors, scholarships, and other programs as well as studying for the SAT. I couldn’t be more excited to see what lies in Sunny’s future!

Katy Michaelis, Tutor

Online Tutoring

Ethan, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Ethan, 8th Grade. Ethan is a motivated individual who is inspired to create programs and games during our online tutoring sessions. Ethan and I have been taking an online Javascript programming class together on Khan Academy for almost a year now. We spend each session viewing short teaching videos and performing programming lab activities together. I would like to say I’m tutoring him, but to be fair, I’m learning almost as much as he is! My favorite memory and activity was when Ethan had a math assignment about calculating the volume of three dimensional objects. Instead of laboriously calculating the answers to each question, we decided to go onto Khan Academy and write, from scratch, a program to perform these functions. Ethan has been a pure pleasure to work with, and I can see him going far with his skills.

Tomer Gurantz, Online Tutor

Aug 2

Students of the Month – August 2016

Skid Row Learning Center

Melodie, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Melodie, 10th Grade. Having students return to the Skid Row Learning Center(SRLC) is a bittersweet, mixed bag since we always hope that students that leave us find permanent housing and ensuing stability and success. Upon a student’s return, we never know whether to expect a downtrodden student or a resilient one. July’s Student of the Month, Melodie, is definitely the latter. Three and a half years away from the academic assistance and positive role models at the SRLC left Melodie far behind in her studies. However, she came back prepared to take advantage of everything School On Wheels has to offer.

Melodie has been walking into the SRLC with a big smile on her face ready to tackle the day’s academic assignments and eager to use all the resources at her disposal. For example, Melodie quickly learned to divide during one online tutoring session, which will help her tremendously in high school and life beyond. One final example of Melodie’s resilience and resourcefulness is her stellar art project where she had to illustrate a food chain in 3 dimensions, which she did with characteristic panache (as shown above and to the left).

Brian Lopez, Skid Row Learning Center Instructor

Region 5 – Hollywood, Silverlake, Pasadena

Highland Park boys group home, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Highland Park boys group home. Here is what Cameron writes: I started off feeling very nervous about taking on the responsibility of being a tutor and meeting new kids. However, I decided to take tutoring as a challenge to better the lives of others and to conquer my own nervousness, One of the really great moments we had together was playing basketball in their backyard. I saw the kids not as students but as normal teenagers. Carlos, was one student I focused on particularly. Overall, I saw a massive improvement in Carlos’s ability to recognize certain words; he learned to break down words he didn’t know and figure them out unassisted. Finally, I feel that, overall, my experience as a tutor made me a better person and helped others.

Alex writes:
I started tutoring last fall. Up until then, I’d been shy and slow to get into conversations much less tutor kids in a group home. As I felt more comfortable, I became more invested in the boys and their futures. Each day tutoring them was another chance to provide an opportunity for success, to give these kids a shot at meeting their own goals.

Cameron Riefe, Alex Riefe, Tutors

Region 6 – Inland Empire

Cameron, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Cameron, 7th Grade. Having a student like Cameron is every tutor’s dream. When we first met, he was reading below his grade level. As we progressed through each lesson, he surprised me with his unique insight on the way the world works and his maturity. Conversation with him is never dull. Although he occasionally has trouble focusing, Cameron is a quick and curious learner. They say reading is food for the soul, but I find that Cameron experiences the world differently. His sagacity, intelligence, and interests are rooted in interaction and hands-on experience. Often we find time to discuss and dismantle the intricacies of sports, history, and the world around us.

Angela Zhang, Tutor

Region 8 – Ventura County

Cari, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Cari, 5th Grade. I am so pleased with my student Cari. She is a bright little girl with strength of will and a challenge for many. It is wonderful that she and her Mom really count on my presence each week. They both show their appreciation which makes my work so rewarding. I hope to prepare her for what she will encounter in 5th grade so that she will shine.

Cari enjoys reading and writing, and from time to time, she enjoys volunteering at a local pet store. When she grows up, Cari would like to save animals with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Eileen Speer, Tutor

Region 10 – South Orange County

Justice, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Justice, 3rd Grade. Justice is an outgoing, intelligent, and highly perceptive student. He has worked hard and is making nice progress in the short time we’ve worked together. In our tutoring sessions, he actively participates, shares his opinions, and explains his thought process when asked. What strikes us most about Justice is how he is very comfortable expanding upon almost ANY topic of discussion. He likes to share examples and animated demonstrations on a wide range of subjects, which makes our time together much more interesting and fun. Justice brings plenty of energy to our sessions, and he’s not shy about liking a little reward for a job well-done. Though only in 3rd grade, Justice will likely achieve whatever he sets his mind to!

Brandon Mann, Tutor

Region 12 – North Orange County

Heaven, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Heaven. I am very glad to have Heaven as one of my students. She comes into tutoring sessions with a smile and a desire to learn. With every session, Heaven continues to strengthen her grasp of all academic concepts. It was great to see her so excited to learn about Newton’s second law of motion and conduct a science experiment using a K’Nex roller coaster set. It has been such a pleasure and privilege to have been given the opportunity to observe Heaven’s academic growth.

Matthew Young, Tutor

Online Tutoring

Micah, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Micah, 9th Grade. It has been a pleasure to serve as Micah’s tutor and to be part of his support system. Since our first online tutoring session in April, Micah has blossomed in his understanding of many key foundational concepts in mathematics, such as counting, addition, subtraction, and now in multiplication. We are yet to tackle division! One of my key success stories tutoring Micah is his increased willingness to ask questions and to question what I teach him. Students like Micah, despite their difficult home life benefit immensely from consistent academic support and mentorship.

Ian Chan, Online Tutor

Jul 1

Students of the Month – July 2016

Skid Row Learning Center

Dayeli, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Dayeli, 4th Grade. Once in a blue moon, you come across a student who embraces learning with her whole soul. June’s Student of the Month, Dayeli, is one such special occurrence. Her stint at School On Wheels appeared inauspicious since she came into the learning center with virtually zero English ability. Unperturbed, Mr. Ryan and I used our bilingual skill set and Duolingo to teach her English and math. She soaked up both subjects like a sponge with the most infectious enthusiasm I’ve ever seen. Accordingly, I feel delighted to share my experience of Dayeli with anyone willing to hear about this radiant, diligent girl.

Brian Lopez, Skid Row Learning Center Instructor

Region 1 – East LA

Diego, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Diego, 2nd Grade. When I first met Diego, we had a one on one reading and Arts and Crafts session. Just five minutes into our first session, he decided he was done and wanted to leave. For the next week I researched day in and day out how to keep him engaged. Every week I applied a new technique; just a few weeks ago, he stayed involved through our entire session for the first time. We built windmills out of paper and pencils. He was so excited that he built two!

Wendy Rodriguez, Tutor

Region 3 – Westside

Derryon, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Derryon, 1st Grade. Derryon is 6 years old and has just finished kindergarden. He is such a pleasure to work with! In his own words: “I am nice and cool and awesome! I work hard. I like being people’s friend.” He is also an amazing dancer and singer! These past months we worked on reading and numbers. As a reward for Derryon being such a good student, we’ve also gone on a field trip to watch “Finding Dory” with his older sister Dakota and her tutor Tom. It has been nothing but a joy tutoring Derryon, and I’m so happy to see him getting more curious about learning with each session!

Zhanna Guzhavina, Tutor

Region 5 – Hollywood, Silverlake, Pasadena

Tyler, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Tyler, 6th Grade. Tyler is very bright, perceptive, and quick to get a concept when it is explained well. He is a perfect example of a student with a lot of ability who sometimes needs a little extra help staying motivated. Sometimes Tyler wasn’t so into tutoring, but we try to talk his feelings through and see what we can do to make the sessions work better. I have found him to be a delight: he is by turns hilarious, cool, sensitive and insightful. He has many interests outside of school, and our main progress has been in getting him to turn more of that focus on his schoolwork. His reading and writing seem to have improved a lot since we first started working together, which has been nice to see.

Patrick Anderson, Tutor

Region 7 – San Fernando Valley

Camryn, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Camryn, 8th Grade . Camryn is such a kind, loving, giving, bubbly and charismatic spirit. She can light up any room she walks into and start conversations with just about anyone. The day we first met, Camryn told me how much she loves animals and plans to be a vet after she finishes college. Camryn also loves sports! She is definitely an athlete but volleyball is her favorite sport. One of my favorite things about Camryn is her resilience. No matter what, Camryn will always try her best and she never gives up. Her toughness is something I look up to. I could not ask for a better student and I am truly blessed to be a part of her life and to have her in mine.

Darien Onori, Tutor

Online Tutoring

Tyler, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Tyler, 5th Grade. What I realized about Tyler is something I see often in students who are fidgety and seem distracted in my own classroom: he is so smart that he probably found a lot of the work boring! I figured that rewarding Tyler with his beloved Captain Underpants was a way to motivate him to get through the boring but necessary homework and I saw a lot of improvement.I was touched to hear that he had read the entire Captain Underpants book that same night and then lent it to a friend. ) We did some timed reading passages in a workbook. Tyler liked setting the timer and trying to break his previous records. He is SUCH a fast yet careful reader. Tyler is also a talented artist. With some leftover time during an in-person session, I asked him to draw me something, and he obliged with the villain from Captain Underpants (see photo).

Finally, while going through Tyler’s backpack for the end-of-year clean-out, we came across a perfect attendance award. That is no easy feat for anyone, but it’s especially remarkable for a student in his situation. Tyler brings so much creativity, sensitivity and energy to everything he does and I feel lucky to get to know him better and to work with him every week. I could see him having his own popular comic strip one day!

Elizabeth Vitanza, Online Tutor

Jun 1

Students of the Month – June 2016

Skid Row Learning Center

Zah’majai, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Zah’majai, 5th Grade. When I first read Zah’majai’s name, I thought about how difficult it was going to be to remember this student’s name. There appeared to be too many vowels and syllables for me to keep it in my working memory. However, Zah’majai quickly became memorable for his exemplary behavior and thirst for knowledge. In terms of Zah’majai’s comportment, you couldn’t ask for a better student; he’s so polite in tone and diction and works hard at both homework and digital learning tasks. Moreover, his insatiable love of learning results in a positive tutoring experience for Zah’majai and every tutor he has ever worked with. For these two reasons, Zah’majai has earned the well-deserved distinction of Student of the Month for the month of June.

Brian Lopez, Skid Row Learning Center Instructor

Region 1 – East LA

Jordan, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Jordan, 7th Grade. Working with Jordan was a challenge in the beginning but he has progressed so much in the short time that I have tutored him. When we started working together, he wasn’t interested in studying; so I found out what his interests are and used this knowledge to motivate him. He especially enjoys our science experiments! I appreciate the trust we’ve built together. Jordan is an amazing student!

Destiny Mendez, Intern

Region 2 – South LA

Leonell, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Leonell, 3rd Grade . Leonell is the Student of the Month in Region 2 because he works really hard. He is a very fun and energetic boy with a big imagination. After five months of tutoring him, Leonell received an award for most improved student in mathematics. Tutoring Leonell has been a rewarding experience, I hope to be with School on Wheels for a very long time!

Rihana Noorzayee, Tutor

Region 3 – Westside

Latoya, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Latoya, 3rd Grade. Latoya and I split our time between language arts and math, always saving a few minutes to talk about her day and for “library time”, when I lend her a few books to take home for the week. It has been so rewarding, watching her this year as she became stronger and stronger in math and really worked hard to learn her multiplication tables. She has such a great sense of humor and enjoys the humorous books and poems we sometimes read together.

Elin Schwartz, Tutor

Region 4 – Long Beach, South Bay

Angel, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Angel, 1st Grade . Angel is a first grader who is full of cheer and smiles when we are together. His favorite subjects include reading, math, and dinosaurs! Despite some initial difficulty with his reading homework, he tries hard and steadily makes progress each week sounding out word parts, learning sight words, and finding the meaning of the passages that we read. Our favorite activities to help him improve include reading books, rhyming games, mobile apps such as Monkey Junior, and flash cards. We often score each other, take turns, and turn it into a friendly competition. Angel has made great improvements on vowel sounds, consonants, and digraphs in his latest phonics assessment.

John Park, Tutor

Region 6 – Inland Empire

Oscar, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Oscar, 12th Grade. Oscar comes to my group tutoring sessions every Tuesday and Thursday on time and eager to learn. He enjoys learning about history and geography the most. He not only inspires others around him but also encourages them to stay on task and take full advantage of the assistance the tutors provide. Oscar’s leadership, regular attendance and willingness to better himself set the tone for each and every session we have. He leads by example without ever being asked to do so. I consider myself incredibly fortunate to be able to work with a student with such potential, and feel confident that Oscar will go on to accomplish great things in life academically and professionally.

Way to go, Oscar!

Cheyne Burton, Tutor

Region 12 – North Orange County

Ramon, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Ramon, 5th Grade. Ramon is in 5th grade and is such a joy to work with! I’ve had the privilege of seeing him grow both academically and as a person. He has become more conscientious in school, and matured into an outstanding young man who possesses both integrity and creativity. Ramon’s upbeat and humorous personality make our tutoring sessions fun. He loves skateboarding and drawing, and I know he will excel in any area he chooses to pursue in life!

Gabi Marino, Tutor

Online Tutoring

Killiy, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Killiy, 7th Grade. Killiy is an incredible student and individual, one with a large heart for others and with a just-as-large drive to succeed in her academics and beyond. One major success story that I’d love to mention is how much Killiy has improved in adding and subtracting fractions together, especially those with unlike denominators. After a couple of weeks of practice, Killiy was able to solve these types of problems with relative ease and quickness. Also, Killiy is a Tic-Tac-Toe master!

Fahim Zubair, Online Tutor