Category: Star Students

Aug 14

Student Talent Show

On Friday, August 14, some of our students showed off their abilities at our end of summer Talent Show. Before the students took the stage, parents and children got to enjoy delicious hot dogs and burgers for lunch, which were being grilled outside our Learning Center. Meanwhile, all of our guests enjoyed carnival games and face painting. At 1 pm, we walked over to Inner-City Arts for the main event. We had all types of performances including break dancing, singing, gymnastics, a magic show, rapping, poetry slam, piano and violin performances, and singing the ABCs (as seen in the video above).

Thanks to all of our dedicated volunteers and employees who made this day possible, and a special thank you to our incredibly talented students!

Aug 1

Students of the Month – August 2015

By Matthew, one of the Students of the Month

Region 3 – Westside

Jonathan, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Jonathan, 12th grade. Jonathan is 17 years old and about to enter his senior year of high school. From the first time I met him, I saw that he was a very sensitive and intelligent young man. Although he feels his talents are in science and engineering, I found that he has a deep interest in people, cultures and philosophical questions. Although we’re focusing on writing, often we end up having long conversations about the issues behind the essays. He’s finding it easier to express his thoughts and feelings, which is the foundation for being a good writer. I’m also inspired by some of his pursuits, from anime to studying Japanese. I always look forward to my time with him.

Debra Kaufman, Tutor

Region 4 – South Bay, Long Beach

Secrete, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Secrete, 5th grade . I have been blown away this past month by Secrete’s many achievements. Her focus and determination granted her an “A” on her last math test, missing only two questions. She memorized all fifty United States states by location for her geography test (unbelievable!). And last month I had the privilege of watching her graduate from elementary school. I am so proud of this little scholar and cannot wait to see how she will amaze me next. Secrete is looking forward to fun times this summer playing four square, Connect Four, and catching up on some summer reading with her favorite author, Roald Dahl.

Lisa Utsinger, Tutor

Region 5 – Hollywood, Silver Lake, Highland Park

Lazara, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Lazara, 1st grade. I’ve been honored to see Lazara accomplish so much since I started tutoring her. When we began tutoring, she told me that her goals were to listen better and improve in math and English. However, at the beginning of our first session, she also told me she had reservations about tutoring with a “boy tutor”. Yet, by the end of the academic year, her teacher and mother were happy to inform me that she became one of the top in her class at math, and improved greatly in reading and writing. I am so thankful that I was able to connect with Lazara. We both look forward to our sessions every week; I can’t wait to see Lazara’s continued success!

Tyler Edmonston, Tutor

Region 6 – Inland Empire

Matthew, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Matthew, 9th grade. Matthew is a freshman who loves basketball. He loves to watch, play, and talk about basketball at any given time. As a Team LeBron fan, he looks up to role models like this phenomenal basketball star. However, for Matthew, academic work did not come as easily as shooting balls. He severely struggled in many areas such as reading, writing, and math. Considering his age, this was a big concern for tutors and staff. Therefore, School On Wheels and the facility staff worked together to create appropriate academic plans for Matthew. As a result, Matthew’s reading and math have improved noticeably. Not only that, his self-esteem grew as he gained confidence in academia. Just like any teenager undergoing puberty, Matthew has his moments. On some days he is beyond moody. But he is loving and affable when he feels safe and secure. That is why the staff and SOW truly care for Matthew and are pleased with his accomplishments. We believe that, with his hard work and consistent efforts, Matthew will be able to live his dream to become a U.S. Marshall.

Song Jeong, Tutor

Region 7 – San Fernando Valley

Arman, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Arman, 5th Grade. Arman is a spunky, soon to be, 6th grader with an affinity for fast cars and any music by “The Weeknd.” He loves In N Out but hates his burger or fries “animal style.” He loves to play basketball at recess and wants to be a cop when he grows up. Arman, like most eleven year old boys, has a difficult time staying focused. So, between reducing fractions to simplest form and reading about how hot air balloons are able to rise, we discuss skateboards and the adventures he had the previous weekend with his “cool” older cousins. When reading is on the agenda, it doesn’t go over well… it goes over better when I let him use my iPhone to ask Siri to define words we come across that he doesn’t know. To get to know Arman and help him develop strategies to build up his confidence and learn some self-discipline has been a challenge, but it’s one that Arman has made serious strides toward. Arman doesn’t LOVE to read yet… but each week we get to work on it. And with that our journey continues…

Laura Hine, Tutor

Region 12 – North Orange County

Jeshua, School on Wheels Students of the Month

– Jeshua, 1st grade. Every Friday, when I am getting ready to tutor Jeshua, I have to be ready to face the greatest Pokemon master of them all. With his deck ready for me as soon as I get to the door, we start off our tutoring session with a quick Pokemon battle. As Jeshua unleashes his mighty Thundurus at me, we practice reading the attack moves and calculating how much damage a Pokemon takes. Besides his awesome skills as a Pokemon trainer, Jeshua is also a great reader and problem solver. From my one year of tutoring him, Jeshua has advanced from learning basic sight words to being able to read short stories with ease (even if he prefers math over reading).

Even though I am the one tutoring him, Jeshua has also taught me lessons as well. His ever-optimistic attitude makes me smile, and his confidence in his own skills has taught me to be confident as well. Thank you, Jeshua, for allowing me to tutor you. It’s been a great and rewarding ride so far.

Yuri Ceriale, Tutor

Online Tutoring

Ke’Juan, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Ke’Juan, 7th Grade. Ke’Juan’s passion for math and science has fueled his learning and helped him achieve tremendous success. Since tutoring Ke’Juan, I’ve seen not only his learning improve but also his mentality and approach towards new challenges. He has demonstrated this, for example, in distributing and isolating variables. Also, despite his heavy involvement in basketball camp and activities during the summer, Ke’Juan put his academics ahead of other commitments and organized his schedule so that he could attend all of his online tutoring sessions with me every week. In addition, Ke’Juan’s passion and curiosity about the brain has been extremely welcoming; we have spent our time learning about growth mindset and the importance of knowing that the brain is a malleable organ that can continue to grow.

Overall, Ke’Juan’s approach to learning, his curiosity, patience, and persistence will only continue to help him achieve greater goals in life. It has been an honor and pleasure to tutor Ke’Juan and to watch him develop into a highly motivated student and lifelong learner!

Sagar Buttan, Online Tutor

Jul 2

Students of the Month – July 2015

Joseph, School on Wheels Student of the Month
Joseph, School on Wheels Student of the Month

Region 1 – East LA to Pasadena

Lariell, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Lariell, 11th Grade. Lariell is everything I could ask for in a star student. He is eager to learn, brave when he has questions, and tenacious in finding answers. Since I met him only a few months ago, he has raised his grades enough to play sports. He dreams one day of owning his own business which I know he can do, given his great drive and attitude. I can’t say enough good things about him. Keep up the great work, Lariell!

Liz Reznak, Tutor

Region 2 – South Los Angeles

Beautiful, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Beautiful, 1st grade. Beautiful is a six-year-old student with a huge desire to learn. She has a very shy demeanor yet is quick to participate in every learning activity presented to her. Beautiful enjoys reading short stories, especially ones with Disney princesses. She is always eager to assist her siblings with school related work when she notices them struggling. Beautiful deserves to be Student of the Month because she displays an aspiration to learn and works earnestly as part of that desire. Beautiful is such a pleasure to have in group. With her gentle enthusiasm, I know she will be a great pleasure to her community.

Raquel Munoz, Tutor Coordinator

Region 3 – Westside

Joseph, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Joseph, 1st Grade. There is no single word I could use to describe Joseph that would adequately portray his character. He is thoughtful, always ready to share with his younger brother and other students. He is committed, always completing his homework before our sessions. He is brilliant; one time he corrected me on an exercise and I loved it! But beyond this, Joseph is an incredibly talented student bursting with joy, and I am so lucky to be his tutor. Among students, Joseph is respectful and soft-spoken; he is a natural leader. Joseph loves to draw so we try to incorporate it into every learning activity. In preparation for this summer, we are completing an “ABC Book” in which Joseph chooses a noun for each letter of the alphabet and then draws that object. Joseph is a passionate learner. I can’t wait to continue working with him as he enters the first grade.

Mahsaw Motlagh, Tutor

Region 8 – Ventura County

Rhianna, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Rhianna, 3rd Grade. I am a new volunteer with School on Wheels, and was lucky enough to be paired with my student Rhianna. She is a delightful eight year old girl who just finished second grade. Bright and cheerful, Rhianna is a good student, but math is not her strong suit. We are going to work to change that this summer!

Using School on Wheels’ pre-assessment tool and numerous website resources, Rhianna and I are going to work to improve her math skills. Our specific goal is for her to master her multiplication tables. We’re starting with skip counting by fives, using computer games and flashcards. I’ll strive to keep it entertaining.

Jennifer Moore, Tutor

Region 10 – South Orange County

Chase, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Chase, Kindergarten. I tutored a kindergartener for a few months and faced more challenges than I had anticipated. As we spent more time together, I realized how to help my student. What he needed was a fun-based approach with games, incentives, and the occasional big challenge of cracking a beginner reader book. It took me many attempts and readjustments to match his learning style with my teaching style, but the end result was his reading confidence and my pride at his progress.

The tutors for the four brothers, all members of the School on Wheels at UCI Club, managed to make reading gains with their students by playing games and working with manipulatives, which I made at home. I grew to be quite fond of Chase. During the last few sessions with him, he was visibly proud to be able to read basic sentences and eager to tackle new challenges. He grew to be motivated not by the tangible incentives I gave him of snacks, high fives, and praise, but by the sense of accomplishment he felt after reading a word correctly without any help. His toothy and excited grin, in turn, encouraged me to keep working to find other learning strategies suitable to his age and personality. Unfortunately, my tutoring sessions with Chase and his family have since ended, but I now recognize my struggles in working with him as learning opportunities for the future.

Kylie Toy, Tutor

Region 12 – North Orange County

Mark, School on Wheels Students of the Month

– Mark, Grade 8. It has been an amazing opportunity to tutor Mark because I truly enjoy watching him learn and grow. Mark and I have focused our time on studying mathematics and reading. At first, I was doubtful how spending one hour a week could help with his academics, but Mark has proven me wrong. After a few months of tutoring, Mark’s report card showed incredible progress. In addition, he won two recognition awards during a year-end awards ceremony at his elementary school. Working with Mark has been my pleasure. I am thankful and proud of having him as a student.

Mark is interested in playing drums; one day, after a tutoring session, he thoughtfully decided to teach me some basic drum beats as a way to give back to me. Recently, Mark has also been sharing his talent as an artist to help me improve my drawing skills.

InJae Yoo, Tutor

Online Tutoring

Jonathan, School on Wheels Student of the Month

Jonathan, 3rd Grade. Jonathan has made huge gains since online tutoring 1-on-1 with his tutor, Farrah Haddad. From the beginning, Jonathan’s mother told me that she was worried about Jonathan because they’d been moving from shelter to shelter, which meant that he missed a lot of school. Since Jonathan joined us at the shelter, I noticed that he often felt like he wasn’t good at anything. He looked defeated and wasn’t motivated to participate in activities with the other kids. After a couple of online tutoring sessions with Farrah, sometimes twice and even three times a week, Jonathan was able to excel in school. He also smiles a lot more now, is more energetic, and is just more confident all around. Recently, Jonathan has been coming to my office everyday telling me how smart he is and how much he’s been improving in math. He’s always reciting his times tables in and around the shelter!

I just want to say how thankful I am for School on Wheels and Farrah for helping Jonathan. It’s so great to see Jonathan grow and thrive. Thanks so much. You guys truly make a difference!

Michelle Baek, Jonathan’s Shelter Staff

Jun 1

Students of the Month – June 2015

Rayvon, School on Wheels Student of the Month

Skid Row Learning Center

LeAna, School on Wheels Student of the Month

LeAna, 8th grade. LeAna arrives at the Skid Row Learning Center every day with her headphones in her ears and a dance in her step. A big fan of dancing, LeAna works hard to be a positive role model to her little brother as well as to the other kids at the center. On multiple occasions she has helped tutor kindergarteners, completed administrative tasks, assisted with snack and still had the energy to supervise her brother on the commute to the shelter. She ensures that he safely gets on the bus and they make it to dinner in time. After a long day of commuting on the bus, multiple classes, after school tutoring, helping tutors at the center, and helping with her sibling, I can rely on LeAna to offer a warm hug and a big smile as she walks out the door.

Allison Maldonado, Skid Row Learning Center Instructor

Region 2 – South Los Angeles, Compton, Lynwood, Inglewood, Watts, Gardena, Torrance

Star, School on Wheels Student of the Month

Star, 10th Grade. When I first met Star she seemed a little shy and nervous. During the past few months, I have been able to watch Star come out of her shell and become a fun, interactive people to talk with. She has a sense of humor that always makes me laugh. From working through the more challenging math problems to reading, she maintains a positive attitude. She inspires me to keep an optimistic outlook on everything I do in life. As Star continues on her path of education, I hope that she continues to grow as she has over the past few months and that all of her dreams come true.

Rejoyce Green, Tutor

Region 4 – Long Beach, San Pedro, South Bay Cities, Carson, Bellflower, Lakewood, Norwalk

Rayvon, School on Wheels Student of the Month

Rayvon, 6th Grade. In October Rayvon had many new experiences: a new home, a new school district, starting middle school and his first tutor. Rayvon is a bright, well spoken, and friendly 12-year old with a winning smile and a winning attitude. At school Rayvon learned the school routine, made friends, enjoyed art class and worked on improving his personal best running time. At home he learned about keeping a schedule and fulfilling his responsibilities. He also had a specific academic goal for tutoring. He learned to be on time and ready to learn with his tutor every week. He worked hard and tracked his progress. In March that first goal was achieved. Way to go, Rayvon! Now these lessons can be applied to many future subjects.

Deborah Chankin, Tutor

Region 5 – Echo Park, Hollywood, Highland Park, Silverlake, Mid-City

Viviane, School on Wheels Student of the Month

Viviane, 11th Grade. Viviane has made enormous strides from the day we first met. She comes prepared and on-time for our study sessions. She has improved her grades from D’s and F’s to all A’s and B’s on her most recent report card. She completes her school work on the days we do not meet and is making a lot of progress in all subjects. Now that the school year has ended, Viviane has expressed interest in her future career, one in which she wants to help others. I am excited by what the future has in store for her.

Akina Lantow, Tutor

Region 7 – Canoga Park, North Hills, North Hollywood, Sylmar, Glendale, Van Nuys, Sun Valley

Hailey, School on Wheels Student of the Month

Hailey, 5th Grade. Hailey is currently in the 5th grade and is probably one of the most unique kids you will ever meet. She’s a part of the chorus at her school, enjoys reading books and is in love with the movie Frozen. Whenever she finishes her homework early, she loves to look up images of Queen Elsa, a character in Frozen, and shows me her favorites. Hailey hasn’t decided exactly what she wishes to be when she grows up but her choices are either a teacher, an aerospace engineer, or an artist. She is one of the smartest kids I have ever met. She has a vast imagination that allows her to think so creatively about everything. Hailey is a great listener and an outstanding student. I honestly can’t imagine tutoring anyone else!

Samantha Montes De Oca, Tutor

Region 8 – Ventura, Oxnard, Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley

Marleth, School on Wheels Students of the Month

Marleth, 5th Grade. Marleth has been a joy to teach. She is eager to learn and very cooperative, something teachers hope for in their students. Her writing teacher indicated that she is very bright and on grade level despite having moved here from Mexico only four months ago. We have been working on phonics and constructing both oral and written sentences. Marleth has good observation skills and an above average ability to focus. She also has a good sense of humor, and plays the jokester occasionally. I suspect she will soar academically once she becomes proficient in English. I feel honored to be able to play a small part in Marleth’s educational process.

Ann Klein, Tutor

Region 10 – Costa Mesa, Santa Ana, Huntington Beach, Tustin, Irvine, Lake Forest, Fountain Valley, Westminster

Erick, School on Wheels Students of the Month

Erick, 6th grade. Once Erick had a math assignment that I couldn’t explain to him. The problems were simple, how to convert fractions into decimals into percentages, but I wasn’t prepared that he had no understanding of fractions. When I realized this, it stumped me. I had learned fractions so long ago that I didn’t know how to explain them or even where to start. So we began to work on it together, breaking the parts into little sections. After a few sessions he was able to solve the problems. I was so excited by what he learned that I couldn’t stop smiling the rest of the session.

The drawing is something Erick’s little sister drew. Apparently I’m the middle one with the big ears and Erick is the one on the right.

Eric Chang, Tutor

Online Tutoring

Hannah, School on Wheels Student of the Month

Hannah, 11th Grade. Seeing my student prosper during our online tutoring sessions makes it all worth it. When I began tutoring her, Hannah was barely able to set up a problem on the CAHSEE practice exam. I noticed that after a few weeks of tutoring she started to approach the problems on her own and began to do more and more each week. Our tutoring sessions turned from weekly to biweekly lessons that dramatically enhanced her understanding of math and sparked her passion for learning. I asked her whether she was considering college as an option. At first told me, “No, it’s too hard,” but after spending time with her, her views have greatly changed and she’s more confident with herself.

In Hannah’s own words:

Catherine is a great teacher and she has a way of making me feel comfortable asking questions about math. I feel more confident in my math abilities and in going to college. Thanks Catherine!

Catherine Santizo, Tutor

Apr 1

Students of the Month – April 2015

Bruce, School on Wheels Student of the Month

Region 1 – Los Angeles

Yesenia, School on Wheels Student of the Month

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, School on Wheels Student of the Month

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, School on Wheels Student of the Month

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, School on Wheels Student of the Month

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, School on Wheels Student of the Month

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 and JR, School on Wheels Students of the Month

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

Online Tutoring

Kaliyah, School on Wheels Student of the Month

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!”

Shivi Singh, Tutor