Region 7 – San Fernando Valley
– Samantha Montes De Oca. I am 17 years old and currently a high school senior. One day I was searching different volunteer opportunities in my community when I stumbled upon the School on Wheels website. I knew right away that being a tutor for a homeless child was something I really wanted to do. Now that I am tutoring, my student Hailey and I meet every Wednesday; honestly, it’s always the highlight of my day. Before we get started on homework, we always take a moment to talk about her day. I’ve enjoyed not only being Hailey’s tutor, but also her friend and someone she can count on. Becoming a tutor for School on Wheels was the best decision I ever made.
Thank you, Samantha, for being such an amazing tutor and a consistent person in Hailey’s life. Hailey says it best with the following statement, “Samantha has taught me so much about everything, like how to think about an answer before I choose it. She is so nice, she’s the best!”
Brianna Grothe, Regional Coordinator
Skid Row Learning Center
– Katrina Jiang. On my first day of volunteering, I came in bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, yet slightly doubtful of my ability to manage an army of children. To my surprise with each passing day, I grew more comfortable working with the children and, even, with letting my guard down around them. Now I supervise the Digital Learning Center with my middle-school sidekicks as we scurry around the DLC facilitating learning through online educational programs. Having worked with the organization for about two months, I’ve developed greater patience, compassion, and understanding not only for the children but also for myself. School on Wheels has been as important to me as it has been to the children I tutor. I share with them my hobbies, my academic interests, and my passions in life. I’ve come to know them better as individuals when they, in turn, open up to me. Interacting with them every day at School on Wheels has given me a sense of belonging; after all, like them, I’m still a kid at heart.
Allison Maldonado, Skid Row Learning Center Instructor
Region 2 – South Los Angeles, Compton, Lynwood, Inglewood, Watts, Gardena, Torrance
– Rejoyce Green. Rejoyce is an amazing tutor. She has been volunteering for four years along with her UCLA group. Rejoyce coordinates college tours and field trips for a group home for teen girls, where she currently tutors. She is always coming up with creative ideas to keep her students encouraged and engaged. Rejoyce has been a wonderful asset to School on Wheels.
Tutoring with School On Wheels has truly been one of the best tutoring experiences I have had. I have always valued my teachers and mentors; the idea that I could be that person for someone else is highly rewarding. As a tutor, I think I have also learned more about myself and how I can help others feel confident in their understanding of a particular topic. I look forward to Wednesday afternoons when we get to work with the students. Being able to watch them mature as individuals and grow in their knowledge of a particular topic is a heartwarming experience.
Kenisha Edwards, Regional Coordinator
Region 4 – Long Beach, San Pedro, South Bay Cities, Carson, Bellflower, Lakewood, Norwalk
– Deborah Chankin. When I retired last year, one of my goals was to volunteer in my community. I learned about School on Wheels from idealist.org and then saw the PBS NewsHour piece. I have always been drawn to groups that take a pragmatic approach to complex issues. School on Wheels’ tutoring model does exactly that. As a city government professional, I knew about the challenges of homelessness and other special living situations. As a parent, I knew about the challenges of giving each child the right academic support. Now I can contribute in a new way from both of those perspectives. I am so gratified to help one student close the education gap in his learning.
Louis Mena, Regional Coordinator
Region 5 – Echo Park, Hollywood, Highland Park, Silverlake, Mid-City
– Akina Lantow. I’m very proud to highlight Akina Lantow as the Tutor of the Month. It has been a joy to have her as part of our School on Wheels volunteer team for the past seven months! Akina is such a great role model for her student, motivating Viviane to work hard. Akina is enthusiastic about helping her student succeed, and it definitely shows. Excellent job, Akina!
In her own words:
Shortly after moving to Los Angeles, I joined School on Wheels to be directly involved in the community that I live in. School on Wheels seemed to be the best place to use the combination of my educational background and past involvement in homelessness issues. I love working with teenagers, so I was so lucky to be assigned to my student, Viviane. The most challenging subject for Viviane is math; so we spend the majority of our time working on math homework, academic planning and goal setting. One of my favorite moments of tutoring was when we spent two hours solely on geometry; the time just flew by! She shocked me by saying that it felt like we had only spent five minutes on the assignment.
Lancella Hunter, Regional Coordinator
Region 8 – Ventura, Oxnard, Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley
– Ann Klein. In March Ann Klein celebrated her first anniversary of being a School on Wheels tutor. Over the course of the past year she has worked with five students. Previously Ann had a long career as a special education teacher in Miami. After retiring she moved to Dallas to help raise her grandkids. With her grandkids grown now, she moved to Ventura three years ago, where she was sure she had found paradise. But something was missing. Ann asked her daughter to find her volunteer opportunities working with kids and she stumbled upon School On Wheels. Ann says, “ I just love working with the little ones! I need to be around kids.” Whether it’s stickers, phonics workbooks, words of encouragement or a kind smile, Ann takes the time to make her students feel special and that is what truly matters. Ann, I admire the positive, fun and creative ideas you bring to your tutoring sessions! Thank you.
Terrie Soto, Regional Coordinator
Region 10 – Costa Mesa, Santa Ana, Huntington Beach, Tustin, Irvine, Lake Forest, Fountain Valley, Westminster
– Eric Chang. Eric is respected and appreciated by everyone he has come to work with through School on Wheels. The shelter staff have pulled me aside specifically to let us know how awesome they think he is. The parents have called me multiple times expressing their gratitude for a tutor that has finally been able to instill confidence in their kids. And most importantly, his students absolutely love him! They look forward to tutoring sessions and learning from Eric.
My experiences as a tutor at School on Wheels have been far more fulfilling than I had hoped for. The two students I have the privilege of tutoring are both so bright, patient, and eager to work with me. Despite the stresses they have to deal with, they always do their best to never complain or have it affect them during our sessions. Their behavior and optimism constantly inspire me to be the best possible tutor I can be for them and to be much more appreciative of everything I have in my life. It’s very clear to me that if they are just given the opportunities we take for granted, like a consistent place to sleep or study, that they can far surpass anything I’m capable of doing. After college I stumbled upon School on Wheels, which sounded exactly like what I was looking for, and am very thankful for the amazing opportunity it has provided me.
Lilian Pahn, Regional Coordinator
– Catherine Santizo. It is an honor to highlight Catherine Santizo as our online tutor of the month. Catherine, a full-time college student, enjoys the convenience of online tutoring. Over the last 2 to 3 months she has helped her student Hannah pass her CAHSEE examination and develop a strong interest in pursuing a 4-year college degree.
In her own words:
Tutoring online has been a life changing experience. I used to tutor in person at a shelter, but once I heard online tutoring was an option I knew it’d be the perfect fit for me. As a full time college student, online tutoring gives me the flexibility I need. I even get to tutor at school, which fits perfectly with my hectic schedule.
I love School On Wheels and recommend it to anyone who wants to make a difference in a child’s life. The fact that online tutoring is an option makes volunteering appealing to even the busiest person out there.
Ian Chan, Digital Learning Coordinator