Category: Star Volunteers

Jun 1

Tutors of the Month – June 2015

Samantha Montes De Oca, Tutor of the Month
Samantha Montes De Oca, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Region 7 – San Fernando Valley

Samantha Montes De Oca, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– 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, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– 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, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– 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, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Deborah Chankin. When I retired last year, one of my goals was to volunteer in my community. I learned about School on Wheels from 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, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– 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, School on Wheels Tutors of the Month

– 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, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– 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

Online Tutoring

Catherine Santizo, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– 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

Apr 1

Tutors of the Month – April 2015

Cameron and Anne Tutors of the Month
Anne and Cameron Deguzman, School on Wheels Tutors of the Month

Region 1 – Los Angeles

Amarilis Bolaños, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Amarilis Bolaños. Amarilis has been an amazing School on Wheels tutor and tutor coordinator for the past year. Her creativity and passion for teaching have made learning fun for the students that she works with. Amarilis is always willing to help when needed, even on her non tutoring days. Her assistance as a tutor coordinator has been of tremendous help. Each week Amarilis provides consistency to her students, logs her hours regularly and uses creative techniques to engage the students in learning. Here is what Amarilis has to say about her experience as a tutor:

I could not have been happier when I stumbled upon the website and learned that School on Wheels combines both the issues of homelessness and education, two topics of interest to me. I was excited to be able to become a volunteer and tutor a group of teens. Although it can be a bit difficult to work with teenagers, it has also been fulfilling, especially when they open up about their struggles in school and personal life. School On Wheels has taught me how important it is to be persistent and how valuable volunteering can be. Being a volunteer not only makes a small difference in the students’ lives, but in mine as well. A year later I could not have asked for a better organization to be a part of.

Thank you for your dedication; you are such an amazing tutor and tutor coordinator, Amarilis!

Marisol Farfan, Regional Coordinator

Region 3 – Westside

Ruben Maldonado, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Ruben Maldonado. My experience tutoring with School on Wheels has been fantastic. I joined School on Wheels expecting an academic setting, primarily working with the student on homework and ensuring he stays on track. Not only did my student and I work diligently on his homework, we were able to connect. Simply listening to him about his school week and his struggles helped me understand him and evaluate my approach in tutoring and mentoring him. It was a reminder to me that oftentimes students underestimate themselves or are unaware of their potential to do well. However, with some guidance, they can develop a love for learning and translate that to success in school. Altogether, this makes for an enriching experience and has helped me grow as well. Thanks for the opportunity, School on Wheels!

Blue Mc Donnell, Regional Coordinator

Region 4 – Long Beach, San Pedro

Jessica Prosper Seymour, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Jessica Prosper Seymour . I found School on Wheels in September 2014 when I was searching for a way to serve the homeless in Long Beach. It is been a greatly rewarding experience; my student A’janna has been a source of inspiration to me to search the internet for interactive and engaging projects to do with her. A’janna loves science! Whenever I see her get excited about some project I’ve brought, I am reminded why I make the extra effort. It has been a great privilege to work with her; I hope I can continue to stimulate her curiosity in science.

Jessica has been an extraordinary tutor and is the Tutor Coordinator at her shelter now. Thank you so much for going above and beyond, Jessica. You make all the difference!

Louis Mena, Regional Coordinator

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

Ruba Hsen, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Ruba Hsen. I’m so proud to honor Ruba as the Tutor of the Month. She started with School on Wheels last December and has done an amazing job! From the very first session Ruba has been supportive of her student. Besides helping her student receive some of her best school grades, Ruba is preparing her student for success by helping her organize a vision board to see her dreams!

In her own words:

I joined School on Wheels shortly after moving to Los Angeles. I wanted to become part of the team because I have always had a passion for helping people and getting involved in my community. Education has helped to make my dreams come true; I appreciate every teacher and mentor who has believed in me along the way. Madison is so much fun to work with and has a positive attitude about learning. I admire her in so many ways. Thanks to School on Wheels for giving me this amazing opportunity!

Lancella Hunter, Regional Coordinator

Region 7 – San Fernando Valley

Debbie Bloom, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Debbie Bloom. Debbie has been an amazing addition to our organization since September 2014. She is a wonderful tutor who cares a lot about her student and proudly raves about him and his accomplishments. In her own words:

As my retirement from the Los Angeles Unified School District was nearing, I started feeling nostalgic about all the students I taught and counseled during my thirty years of employment. I imagined how I’d miss those bright eyes, curious faces, and exciting learning moments! To enjoy my retirement, I needed to stay connected to the world of education. When I found Schools on Wheels, I knew it was the place for me. I wanted the opportunity to work with students who, unfortunately, have had too much instability in their lives to be successful at school. My experience with Schools on Wheels has, thus far, exceeded my expectations. I’ve been blessed to be paired with an amazing fifth grade boy, who fills me with faith and cheer during every tutoring session.

Thank you, Debbie, for being such a caring, consistent and committed tutor!

Lisette Gaeta, Regional Coordinator

Region 10 – Orange County

Anne and Cameron Deguzman, School on Wheels Tutors of the Month

Anne and Cameron Deguzman. Anne and her son Cameron are definitely a dynamic duo! They started tutoring two siblings back in August of 2014 and have continued tutoring them since. Both of their students have shown incredible progress; the students’ mother and their students are so thankful. Anne has many years of experience homeschooling her own children. So she brings extra materials for their sessions that are fun and engaging. Cameron is wise beyond his years and is really dedicated to his student. They are a perfect team and we are so grateful to have them as volunteers at School on Wheels!

In their own words:

We have both enjoyed volunteering for School on Wheels this past year! Both Bruce and J.R. have such adventurous, warm personalities which immediately drew us in. We are greeted week after week with smiles and stories that make the time spent with them feel too short. The four of us together are dedicated to making learning fun and interesting, whether it’s practicing spelling words, working on math problems, science assignments, or brain teasers!

We were first introduced to Schools on Wheels from a flier we saw posted on a bulletin board at UCLA. After learning more about School On Wheels, we felt like it was a good volunteer fit for the both of us. We wanted to be a part of helping others see the potential within themselves and the role education plays in helping to achieve one’s goals for a bright future.

Lilian Pahn, Regional Coordinator

Online Tutoring

Folu Oyefeso, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Folu Oyefeso. It is an honor to highlight Folu Oyefeso as our online tutor of the month. Folu moved to Washington to continue his education after originally joining School on Wheels as an in-person volunteer. We are lucky to have Folu. Miles away, he continues to make a difference.

In his own words:

Overall, online tutoring works well for me because I can adjust sessions to easily work within my schedule. The location doesn’t matter too. Since starting online tutoring in January, my experience has been very eye-opening and inspiring! The look on students’ faces when they understand a new concept is invaluable.

One of my greatest successes was when I received an email from a student after our final session. In the email, he said how much my tutoring meant to him. He even referred to me as an older brother, which meant so much to me. Fortunately, the student was able to move forward from the program to a better environment. I hope to continue tutoring as long as I can with School On Wheels!

Ian Chan, Digital Learning Coordinator