Category: Star Volunteers

Sep 27

Tutors of the Month – October 2018

Region 10:

Milan Narula – I began tutoring with School on Wheels in 2016. I tutor in a group setting at an emergency domestic violence shelter. I love that I get to meet and work with lots of different students. I’ve had so much fun with all of them! This past summer, a friend and I applied for, and won, a community grant to buy Chromebooks to teach coding to kids. From the very beginning, the students at the shelter loved coding and being on the computer, and the tutors loved teaching it. One family in particular (10th grade sister, 7th grade brother and 4th grade sister) were especially quick to pick up coding, and they challenged us because we had to keep coming up with new curriculum. It was fun and rewarding to see how much progress they made in such a short time, and I only hope they’re able to continue coding in their next home. Initially, the plan was for July to be our Month of Code, but the kids loved it so much that we continued until school started, and we hope to keep coding during the school year (whenever the kids are done with their schoolwork). I wish everyone could see the students’ enthusiasm and eagerness to learn — it’s the best part of being a School on Wheels tutor.

Region 4:

Riki Aihara – My experience with School on Wheels has been eye opening. I never knew the extent of how many kids and families face homelessness so close to my own home. I had this idea of the suburbs that excluded such problems and realized I had been naive. Being able to help and support these kids in any way possible has been both challenging at times and pure joy in others. I hope to continue making a difference in children’s lives with this great organization.

Online:

Thu-Anh Holton – I came across School on Wheels when I did an internet search for ways I could help out children. Education was always a big part of my upbringing and I was fortunate enough to have a strong support system to push me and help me with my studies. I wanted to pass that along in any way that I could. With my work schedule I end up with little pockets of down time, and wanted to make the most of that time. I started by donating school supplies, because without those things, learning can be so much more difficult than it already is. When I found out that School on Wheels had an online tutoring program, I thought it would be a great fit and it certainly is. I travel a lot for work and I would never be able to commit to physically being at a specific location to tutor. I hope to continue to work with School on Wheels for as long as my schedule allows. It’s such a great feeling seeing smiles on my students’ faces when they accomplish something!

 

Region 5:

Michael Hacker – In 2011, I was working a demanding job with the typical nagging desire of wanting to “give back.” I realized that I had to simply take that first step or nothing would ever happen. School On Wheels looked like a great organization and that proved to be a good hunch. I started with a student in Hollywood, and we worked together until he graduated from high school. We’re still in close contact, and he’s moved to Oregon and is living a productive and happy life. Last year I started working with Iris, who’s about to start her senior year in high school. Just an hour a week can make an enormous difference in the lives of these students, and it definitely continues to change my life in an extremely positive way.

 

Skid Row Learning Center:

Jennifer Soto – This coming November will be a full year of tutoring with Schools on Wheels. I get the biggest smile when the kids tell me how the tips I gave them for the week helped improved their school work. It’s amazing to know that tutoring once a week can still can make a big difference in the students school work. I had a student recently tell me that her goal is to be a famous DJ. She asked if I could help her with an assignment to explain why she wants to become a DJ, list ways on how she can reach her goal to become a DJ and come up with a creative DJ name. I love how our students always set their goals high. I like to remind the students that they can achieve as many goals they set their mind to. Any goal can be achieved, if they take the right steps on getting there and if they continue to have a positive mind with determination to never give up. I try to tell them not to listen to the people who say their goal is unrealistic or unachievable. A quote a friend told me once was there is three C’s in life, choices, chances and changes, we must make a choice to take a chance or our life will never change. I like to share this advice with our students, it’s a great way to explain why we should take the chance to pursue our goals. I will always want to continue tutoring at Schools on Wheels and thank you again for picking me as your tutor of the month!

Aug 7

Tutors of the Month – August 2018

Region 10 – South Orange County:

Mathew – To go to the summer camp and share some of our knowledge of the biomedical, engineering, health, and coding fields was a rewarding experience: it put smiles on the kids’ faces, it put smiles on our faces, and overall, kids had a good time doing our hands-on projects. It was amazingly exciting to see our students start to discover new passions and interests while experiencing STEM as a whole.

Ashley – Each day we did a different activity that related to engineering, biomed, health, or coding. Many of the students learned things that they had never seen at school before, including Scratch and K’nex.

Michael – I could already tell that the organization required dedication and and passion. I soon realized the power of teamwork and the possibilities that could arise from the combined goodwill of multiple volunteers.

Jason – There was no doubt that the curriculum — which consisted of engineering, biomed, health, and coding — was exceptional, however, what made this program so successful and the experience worthwhile were the irreplaceable connections made during the course of the three weeks. Given the thier harsh lifestyles, it is not fanatical to presume that education is not their first priority, therefore, such intimate connections between the tutor and the students may be more impactful to the children’s lives than any lecture. I hope that we have comparably influenced the children.

 

Region 1 – East LA:

Evan Panas – I started tutoring with School on Wheels a little more than 5 years ago when I noticed some free time that could be more productive. I felt SOW offered the best bang for my buck. The greatest part about helping kids is that they’re eager to learn, and information adults take for granted amazes them. They are excited to see you every week. It’s satisfying to provide a little stability in their chaos-ridden lives. Since we do this as a group, I would be remiss to not also thank my fellow tutors Niru Madduri, Alonso Quintero, Brenda Ramirez, and Marisol Sacramento. And a special thanks to Sasana Kachirsky who coordinates at another shelter and is never-ending supply of inspiration. Also, many thanks to our past and present regional coordinators who offer wonderful support to all their tutors: Paula Buxbaum, Marisol Farfan, Daisy Arce, Cecelia Olivas, Louisiana Wermer, and Ian Chan.

 

Online:

Natalie Platon – It’s been lots of fun participating in the Summer Program this year! I’m glad that online tutoring gives me the opportunity to still work with Ethan even though he moved away from Skid Row a few years ago. By using Google Hangouts and our smartphones, we’ve had great discussions about what we’ve read; Ethan is now making more text-to-self, text-to-world, and text-to-text connections and has progressed when it comes to thinking more deeply about the underlying message behind a story. The Summer Program has also motivated him to read more as well, and we’ve read several books so far. Ethan has even gone to the library himself to read more books on his own! I’m very thankful to be able to still connect with and tutor Ethan even though he’s moved several times.

 

Skid Row Learning Center:

Lisa Yu – I began volunteering because I just want to help out a bit. Being homeless is hard enough but being homeless and trying to keep up with school as well?! Wow, now that’s a challenge. I tutor at the Learning Center so I never know what to expect. Sometimes a student needs help with a math problem. Often, he or she just needs encouragement to power through an assignment. There is nothing like seeing the glow of accomplishment on a student’s face after having just persevered and finished. Other times it has nothing to do with school but with just listening empathetically.

What amazes me is the energy that hits me every time I enter the Learning Center. Wow! I just love the unabashed enthusiasm, curiosity and resilience of these students. At times the energy seems to visibly bounce off the walls. Huge kudos to the resident team that keeps everyone focused! Thank you, School on Wheels, for really taking to heart the “no child left behind” credo.

Region 7 – San Fernando Valley:

Michael Weiser – I am happily married for 38 years and have two beautiful and incredible daughters and one grandson who we all adore. I have had a rewarding 40-year career in the entertainment industry, and have reached a point in my life where I decided that because I have been so fortunate, I need to recognize the opportunities I have had by giving back somehow.
While searching sites for non-profit organizations that might be appealing I stumbled across School on Wheels, and it all felt right. And because of School on Wheels, I have had the opportunity to meet 9-year-old Nikoli, who is an amazing, funny, and a very smart young man who has a real desire to learn. Nikoli loves video games and would like to be a video game developer when he is older. I am honored to have this opportunity to spend time with Nikoli every week, and to see the improvement in his math and handwriting skills!!

 

Jun 29

Tutors of the Month – July 2018

Region 4 – Long Beach, South Bay Cities:

Ian Lee – I am very proud to be a part of School on Wheels since 2016. As a high school student, I know it’s important to get help when needed. Otherwise, it’s easy to give up. I feel satisfied when I see my student grasps concepts and improve. For some kids, just reading with them is good enough. One student’s mom said her son was able to pass the reading test that he failed before and move up to the next level. I have lots to learn to become a good tutor. I’m learning every week not only from other wonderful tutors but from the awesome students who trust me and share their stories.

 

Online:

Ann Kimball – Since joining School on Wheels, I realized that any student, no matter where they come from, has potential to become or do anything they set their minds to through encouragement, hard work, and determination. As an online tutor, it is so exciting to see a student succeed at a task that they previously thought extremely difficult. When one of my students, Zonia, learned of the simplicity of adding and subtracting positive and negative integers, a task that she had told me before she did not understand, she could not wait to show her teacher what she had learned! My time working with an incredible organization like School on Wheels has helped me to encourage a love of learning within students while also giving me the chance to meet truly intelligent and inspiring personalities every single week. Whether it be making them laugh or teaching them something new, the vast array of students I have had the pleasure of working with always makes my sessions both eye-opening and exciting.

Region 1 – East LA:

Nayelie Aguilar – When volunteering with School on Wheels, I feel that there is an opportunity given to families who don’t have as many resources. I first began tutoring because I know how challenging it may be when situations about income can affect a student academically. My mother was laid off, and we lost our house when I was younger, but if I had known there were programs like School on Wheels I would’ve taken the opportunity. I feel honored to be able to give back, and even if it’s just helping tutor one child, I am grateful. My experiences with School on Wheels have positively impacted my life and helped me view certain situations differently.

 

Region 9 – North Orange County:

Jacob Maldonado – I have been tutoring with School on Wheels since 2016, and I have enjoyed every moment. While there are challenging times, I can always learn from them to provide a better experience for my student. I discovered SOW at a time when I was looking for a chance to gain one-on-one tutoring experience with a student. Without a doubt, my tutoring experience with SOW has prepared me for my current job position as an elementary school instructional assistant. SOW has not only provided me the perfect opportunity to grow as an educator but to grow as a person. Thanks to SOW, I have a better understanding of the resilience and strength of students in need.

 

Region 5 – Hollywood, Silverlake, Pasadena:

Holly Fleischer – I’ve been a tutor with School on Wheels for over two years now. I signed up in the winter during the last election year. Through my day job, I was lucky enough to be part of the Entertainment Council for Hilary Clinton, andI got to sit in on meetings with incredible leaders such as Valerie Jarrett, Huma Abedin and Senator Corey Booker. Being part of that group made me realize that I needed to do something more than just my day job. Not just for me, but for my own kids to see. I wanted them to know from an early age that their mom may work but she also volunteers. I felt it was important that I make a difference starting from a local level and through much research I found School on Wheels. They make it super convenient for you to work with kids close to your home or work. During my time as a volunteer, I tutored a young girl named Tatiana from 4th – 6th grade, and I’ve been working with Jessica, a kindergartener, for the past school year. Helping these kids with their schoolwork is important, but for me, getting to know them and be part of their lives is my favorite aspect of working with SOW. Tatiana has since moved from LA, and I am still in touch with her mom from time to time. She will always have a special place in my heart and so will Jesse.

 


Martin Han
– I originally heard about School on Wheels through a friend and have been tutoring with School on Wheels for about two years. As group tutors, we spend a lot of our time helping students through workbooks or digital learning material. It’s always cool when we work through a problem, and the student learns that the material is not as hard as it seemed.

 
 


Brian Morales
– I started volunteering at School on Wheels because I have seen the benefits of education first hand and I wanted to help a younger generation get excited about learning. My favorite moment was when my students asked for me to come on non-tutoring days to hang out and play with them. It showed that I made a positive impact on the students I work with.

 


Sharon Senko
– School on Wheels struck me as an organization making a real impact on an often overlooked population, and I knew I wanted to volunteer the second I learned about the opportunity. Group tutoring at Zahn is always a highlight of my week. The kids are full of energy and it’s wonderful to watch them progress. My fellow tutors are awesome! We’ve just become a Digital Learning Center which has further improved the engagement level of the students. I am very grateful to School on Wheels for their support and look forward to volunteering for many more years to come.

 

Jun 4

Tutors of the Month – June 2018

Region 6 – Inland Empire:

Bonnie Insull – I first heard about School on Wheels a year ago, through Volunteer Match. Riverside has a large homeless population, many of whom live in tents on the other side of ‘my’ mountain. I’d been looking for a way to contribute positively to their lives for some time, so I was very excited to discover School on wheels.
Every week, I look forward to working with my 2nd grade student, Collin. Although I’ve been a teacher all my life, I hadn’t worked with elementary school students before. Tutoring a second grader provides a bright spot in my week and the deep satisfaction of using my years of teaching experience while expanding my skill and understanding. I am proud to be a part of this organization.

 

Region 8 – Ventura County:

Samantha Pedersen – Samantha is a wonderful tutor. She is extremely patient with her student and always comes prepared with new and interesting ways to engage his interest. As as a high school volunteer, Samantha always amazes me with her maturity and natural ability to engage with and bond with her student. We are so thankful to have you, Samantha!

– Angie Allmendinger, Regional Coordinator

 

Dawn Hildebrand – Dawn is an absolutely inspiring tutor. For the past few months, I have watched her student grow from a scared and quiet child that barely looked us in the eyes, to a gregarious eight-year-old. Connor is genuinely proud to share his achievements with Dawn, and her care, patience, and joy in his small successes is absolutely heartfelt. Thank you, Dawn!

– Angie Allmendinger, Regional Coordinator

 

Online

Nathan Williams – In college, there’s a tendency for me to get caught up in my own affairs. As I spend my evenings working away in libraries and dormitories, campus gradually evolves into the entirety of my world. Consequently, I forget about the world around me. Fortunately, School on Wheels not only keeps me connected with the outside world, it also enables me to keep tabs on what’s going on back home in LA. The various students I’ve tutored through School on Wheels have taught me a lot about LA’s diverse backgrounds, teaching me that no one can ever really know the entirety of their city, let alone the world. In turn, School on Wheels has also granted me an opportunity to share a bit of Boston (my new home) with my students. Every online tutoring session serves as a cultural exchange of sorts, whereby both my students and I exchange bits of knowledge that we may have otherwise never known about the cities we call home. I moved from LA to Boston not long ago, and I’m glad to be able to continue as a volunteer with School on Wheels.

 

Apr 3

Tutors of the Month – April 2018

Region 5 – Hollywood, Silverlake, Pasadena:

My experience tutoring with School on Wheels has been my favorite part of college and, no matter how hard the week has been, that hour continues to be a bright spot.
– Kayla Williams

I chose to be a tutor because I think that the community can benefit from this academic support and our work has been very productive.
– Annika Moen

I choose to tutor with School on Wheels because I am committed to helping provide equal access to education for all.
– Clara Keane

I have had an amazing experience volunteering with School on Wheels.
– Ellen Prince

I have really enjoyed seeing the progress made over the year. There were some students who struggled with reading and to see them persevere and make progress has been rewarding. – Sara Woldegebriel

I love working with children and believe education is the ultimate tool of empowerment, especially for kids. I started volunteering for School on Wheels because I was excited for a chance to work with kids and because I wanted to give back to the community. – Dalia Quezada

School on Wheels is doing great work and we’re glad that we are contributing in a helpful way. – Manjun Hao

So far my experience with School on Wheels has been a very positive one. I’ve developed a close relationship with my student and I’ve really enjoyed seeing her reading comprehension develop over the course of our time together.
– Darla Howell

I choose to volunteer for School on Wheels because the value of education is immeasurable. – Gianna Zinnen

Skid Row Learning Center:

Shannon Moore – Shannon has been with School on Wheels since 2016 and recently formed a girls group, aged 10 and up, which gathers every Tuesday. They work on various emotional topics such as confidence, self-appreciation, and self-care.T he girls love it and look forward to their time with Ms. Shannon! In her own words, “From the moment I met my first student Rafael, I knew destiny was hard at work! School on Wheels has given me the opportunity to not only be a tutor, but a role model and friend to these beautiful souls.
Field trips in summer and birthday parties at the shelter have created irreplaceable memories that I can share with these incredible students for a lifetime. I’ll never be able to thank School on Wheels and my students enough for truly changing my life!”

Online:

Albert Zhu – Tutoring for School on Wheels has been a very delightful and inspiring experience for me. Helping my students understand and master what was taught to them in school has been very rewarding, and it always brings a smile to my face when I see them finally have their “aha!” moments. School on Wheels has not only given me the joy of teaching, but it has also allowed me to discover the need to sometimes put aside my own personal goal and desires to help others achieve theirs. If I had not known that School on Wheels tutored homeless children, I would not have thought for a second that any of my students were homeless, because once the label of “homeless” is taken away, each and every SOW student is just like any other student in the world—with the desire to learn, the ability to succeed, and the potential to shape their futures. I am always glad to put aside some of my time each week to help my students take control of their education and reach their future goals.

 

Mar 19

Tutors of the Month – March 2018

Region 3 – Westside:

Aidan Stern – The School On Wheels community is one of untapped potential in the mainstream consciousness. The family I tutor showed me an intelligence, thoughtfulness, creativity, and most importantly, an unparalleled resilience that I find extremely inspiring. If they can show up for the session, I have no excuse not to be there with them. My hope is to be a source of encouragement and motivation to support their educational journey. My favorite moments are in between the tutoring sessions: right before the tutoring starts and the mini breaks we take during the session where I get to better understand the students and their personal philosophies. My goal for each session is to get the kids to celebrate their mistakes and learn from them rather than judge themselves harshly for it; to provide a stress free space of levity where we accept mistakes as part of the process and learn from each other through open discussions.

Online

Sarah Lohmar – Although I have only been an online tutor for a little less than a year, I have quickly learned to love working with the students and getting them excited about learning. What is great about School on Wheels is that it focuses not only on education, but on inspiring confidence in students. I have learned that this confidence can be built in many ways, whether it be helping students realize they really do understand the material or by asking about their favorite subjects in school. Thanks to volunteering as a tutor, I get to help my local community and work with amazing, energetic students every week!

 

Yuki Jung – I became an online tutor after hearing about School on Wheels from a co-worker a year ago. I am constantly amazed by the curiosity and resilience of the students. I feel extremely lucky to support them as they overcome the challenge of reading a tricky word or adding two-digit numbers. I also love getting to know what gets them excited, whether it is Godzilla, tic-tac-toe, or spiders. Even though tutoring online has its challenges, I am grateful every week to School on Wheels for the opportunity to work with my students.