Category: Star Volunteers

Sep 1

Tutors of the Month – September 2016

Region 2 – South LA

– Christian Avalos. Christian made a video describing his tutoring experience with School on Wheels. In the video, Christian talks about how, after a big turnaround, he went from being the teacher to being the student.

Region 4 – Long Beach, South Bay

Janet Cho, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Janet Cho. Janet is enjoying tutoring her ball of sunshine, Paula. Both Janet and Paula are learning from one another, which is incredibly inspiring. It just shows that no matter what age you are, you can continue to learn and grow. Janet’s dedication, love and enjoyment for tutoring with School on Wheels are just the right ingredients to be our Tutor of the Month! We are very fortunate to have her with us. Keep up the great work!

During the beginning of this year, I often found myself messily tangled up into the complex intricacies of my daily routine. I decided that I needed to do an activity that would take the focus out of my own life and into something bigger than myself. What started for me as a means to give back has become an experience where I have gained so much myself.

Kristina Rakosh, Regional Coordinator

Region 5 – Hollywood, Silverlake, Pasadena

Michael Erzingher, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Michael Erzingher. Michael has tutored with SOW for about 10 months. He has been extremely dedicated and an excellent role model for his student Gabriel. Gabriel continues to do better in his academics, and it is definitely due to Michael’s help.

Tutoring with School on Wheels is as rewarding as it gets. My student, Gabriel, and I work together to implement creative, but fun, learning methods. I hope Gabriel carries what he has learned to his life beyond the classroom.. We teach each other; sometimes I’m unsure which one of us is doing the teaching!

Lancella Hunter, Regional Coordinator

Region 6 – Inland Empire

Megan Robbins, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Megan Robbins. Megan has been a dedicated tutor since February of this year. She tutors in the city of Riverside in a group setting. Although she is faced with many distractions, limited space available and a fast turnover with her students, she stays positive and makes each session the best it can be. Her positive attitude not only influences students but also encourages other tutors around her. Megan is extremely patient, creative, flexible and responsible. Her commitment to School on Wheels and our students is remarkable.

I became a tutor for School on Wheels because I wanted to contribute to the Riverside community now that I’m getting settled here. This type of service is a great fit for me because I love interacting with the kids. They challenge me to think creatively about how I’m teaching them. Something as simple as going over what a decimal is can be so rewarding when the kids and I come to an understanding together. It’s always amazing to see the dedication these kids have to improving their math and reading skills; they often sit with us at group tutoring despite the fact there are other kids playing around them along with many other distractions.

Marisol Farfan, Regional Coordinator

Region 7 – San Fernando Valley

Isaac Weingart, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Isaac Weingart. Isaac has been a dedicated School on Wheels tutor since June, 2014. During his two years of service, Isaac has tutored nine students! He is very patient in helping each student and is great at teaching math. Isaac stays in communication and logs his hours every week! A big thank you for all the help you’ve given to homeless students in need!

When I retired from teaching, I volunteered with School on Wheels because I want to continue positively impacting students. I love teaching math, especially Algebra, because the process of setting up and solving equations to find an unknown is very much like being a detective using all the clues provided to solve a mystery. I have enjoyed working with John this year and continually ask him, “What do you need to do next to isolate the unknown?” He, like a lot of students, wants to come to conclusions quickly, but is learning how to take things step by step to compose equations.

Brianna Grothe, Regional Coordinator

Region 12 – North Orange County

Katy Michaelis, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Katy Michaelis. Katy has been a passionate, dedicated tutor for over six years. School on Wheels is so fortunate to have tutors with such a heart of gold!

I have been a tutor with School on Wheels for six years, both in Los Angeles and in Orange County. I have worked in one-on-one and group settings, and I have been with my current student for three years. Building this relationship with Sunny has helped me grow and learn as much as it has her! She is an amazing young woman, and I love every experience we have together.

Trish Arias, Regional Coordinator

Online Tutoring

Jin Tan, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Brian Gray. It is an honor and a pleasure to award Brian with this month’s Online Tutor of the Month Award. I first met Brian at a partnership meeting at Harvey Mudd College while he was the Associate Director of Community Engagement and Homework Hotline Coordinator. Brian is now the Director of Tutoring at Columbia University in New York. Thousands of miles away, Brian continues to be a consistent, expert, positive tutor and role model to our students. Thanks, Brian. Keep up the great work!

My experience with School on Wheels has been nothing short of incredible. The students are quick to show me that I need to earn their trust, and that’s been a more than worthwhile investment. Volunteering can be hard work; it forces us as tutors to constantly re-evaluate and interrogate our privileges and assumptions, but that makes it rewarding. When I went back to LA recently, I got to visit the Skid Row Learning Center. Tutoring the students in person and playing basketball with some of the students I tutor online from New York was the highlight of my month.

Ian Chan, Digital Learning Coordinator

Aug 2

Tutors of the Month – August 2016

Region 2 – South LA

– Jaston. Jaston made a video describing his tutoring experience with School on Wheels. In the video, Jaston talks about helping Nicholas work on his resume and interviewing skills.

Skid Row Learning Center

Jiayi Grace Qin, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Jiayi “Grace” Qin. During the school year, USC sends us students through their Joint Educational Program to serve as tutors. This year, we were lucky that Ms. Grace was assigned to our group! After months of tutoring kindergarten students, Grace extended her role and became a summer intern. She comes in every day to help prep the room and snacks; then she spends the afternoon working with the kindergarten kids. Grace joins us all the way from China and we are honored that she joined our little corner of the world. When asked about her stay, Grace said, “Being a tutor here at School on Wheels helps me to get practice, self-cultivation, and actual experience. I am so glad that I can help children with their education.” We are glad too, Grace!

Allison Maldonado, Skid Row Learning Center Instructor

Region 5 – Hollywood, Silverlake, Pasadena

Diana Lee, Cameron Riefe, Alex Riefe, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Diana Lee, Cameron Riefe, Alex Riefe. This month we highlight 3 tutors. Diana and her twin boys Cameron and Alex. They have provided so much support to the boys at the Aguila house. They are definitely supportive tutors, who not only help the boys academically but connect with the students at the group home but finding different ways to engage, teach, and mentor the students.

Diana writes:
Tutoring teenage boys who are overcoming addiction at Aguila House is a rewarding experience. My sons Cameron and Alex and I visit weekly to help the boys with reading, writing, and math. If they don’t have homework, we help them write journals or cover letters for dream jobs. When they have specific requests, such as preparing for the standardized test to enter the military, we show them strategies to improve their knowledge and skills. One of the boys was interested in philosophy; so we read library books about philosophy and engaged in lively discussions.

As tutors, we also learn from our students; their life experiences and perspectives are sometimes vastly different from our own. Nino, for example, is extremely frustrated with the gentrification that is making his neighborhood too expensive to live in.

Lancella Hunter, Regional Coordinator

Region 6 – Inland Empire

Angela Zhang, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Angela Zhang. Angela has been a wonderful and dedicated volunteer since February 2015. Even though she is a high school student, she demonstrates outstanding qualities that not only make her a great role model but a magnificent tutor. Angela is responsible, consistent with her session, committed to School on Wheels and always logs her hours. She is currently tutoring two students at two different locations. Angela, thank you for all your hard work and dedication!

This is what Angela had to say about her experience as a School on Wheels volunteer:

When I first joined School on Wheels, I was exploring a future career path in education. I was a teen with no car, busy parents and surrounded by a wealthy suburban community. However, within weeks of having my first session with Cameron, my love of teaching was affirmed. Volunteering offers so much invaluable insight into the human condition that only occurs when you join two people from vastly different backgrounds and experiences. Because of School on Wheels and the students I tutor, I am a stronger, more open minded person.

Marisol Farfan, Regional Coordinator

Region 8 – Ventura County

Eileen Speer, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Eileen Speer. Eileen has dedicated her time to School on Wheels since early in 2016 and has worked with her student continuously since then. In her own words:

While searching for an opportunity to give back, I came across School on Wheels’ effort in Ventura County. I was looking for volunteer programs that would possibly benefit from my career experience. Last year having done homework with my two grandchildren, I came to enjoy creating opportunities for learning new things and especially new words. After looking into several volunteer opportunities I discovered that School on Wheels was by far the most organized and professional organization I had encountered.

Teresa Vazquez, Regional Coordinator

Region 10 – South Orange County

Brandon and Bruce Mann, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Brandon and Bruce Mann. Bruce and Brandon are a father-son dynamic duo. They have been tutoring together since January of this year. They have shown extreme dedication to their students over the past 6 months and have really gone above and beyond to meet their students’ unique needs. Brandon prepares diligently for each and every session, and they are both kind, compassionate and patient with each student. Their commitment to their students and to School on Wheels is extra-ordinary. We are so lucky to have them on our team!

Brandon:
I was an active volunteer in the community before School on Wheels, but felt that my actions were not going to have a strong impact on anyone’s life. When I found out about School on Wheels online program, I knew this was the program I was looking for. The students I have worked with, have taught me the struggles that innocent kids go through every day and that each student has unique strengths. Each requires a different approach, and they challenge me to find that specific way to connect with them. I love the excitement they have to strengthen their knowledge of a subject and their reactions to accomplishing something they previously believed impossible to do. It brings a smile to my face to see their boost in self confidence because they know they faced an obstacle and overcame it.

Lilian Pahn, Regional Coordinator

Region 12 – North Orange County

Chris Cole, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Chris Cole. Chris is an amazing tutor. Since the first time I met him, he has been extremely engaged, dedicated and willing to do more. His passion for helping and reaching children is incredible.

In his own words:

After just a few sessions with my first student, I was able to see how much improvement could be had with one-on-one tutoring. After asking another student if she understood the teacher at school and being quietly told, “No, we move around a lot,” I was reminded of how hard these children have it and how much help they need. It’s a shame that so many kids are falling behind due to circumstances completely out of their control. It’s good to see School on Wheels helping to alleviate some of the difficulty these students have.

Trish Arias, Regional Coordinator

Online Tutoring

Jin Tan, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Jin Tan. Jin joined us in 2014 as an in-person tutor at one of our partner shelters in Compton. Since moving to New York City, Jin has continued to tutor with us online. Jin brings consistency, positivity, grit, and interactivity to his sessions. Often, you will find Jin and his student working for 90-120 minutes at a time! We are fortunate to have Jin on our team. His students are better off because of him.

In his own words:

School on Wheels is one of the few organizations that permits you to make a direct impact on children’s lives. Although tutoring over a computer does bring its challenges, the platform School on Wheels has chosen is incredibly powerful and accommodating. When I first met my student Briana, she was discouraged and unmotivated about school. Initially unresponsive to my efforts, she slowly opened up as we played a few games and drew together over the shared white space on the tutoring platform. She was soon eager to learn. Now she sometimes refuses breaks in favor of continuing the lesson!

Ian Chan, Digital Learning Coordinator

Jul 1

Tutors of the Month – July 2016

Skid Row Learning Center

David Kagen, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– David Kagen. If you have tutored at the Skid Row Learning Center, then you have most likely met Mr. David. We are so grateful that Mr. David joined our team in 2009 and although his job sends him away on location, he always spends time with the kids when in town. Mr. David comes in two or three times a week when he is in town. He helps every age group in every subject, plays sports out back, does puzzles with the little ones, plays video games with the older kids and generally helps everyone with everything! It is impossible to figure out how many lives Mr. David has impacted since he joined our team because he leaves everyone he meets smiling and feeling happier. Mr. David could win the honor of Tutor of the Month every month!

Allison Maldonado, Skid Row Learning Center Instructor

Region 1 – East LA

Wendy Rodriguez, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Wendy Rodriguez. Wendy is a wonderful tutor and Tutor Coordinator at a domestic violence shelter in Region 1. She oversees our Saturday reading/arts and crafts club and provides a welcoming environment for her fellow tutors and students. She’s passionate about our program, never shies away from a task and is always looking for new ways to contribute to School on Wheels. When she saw a need for more books at the shelter, she organized a book drive and collected over two hundred books for our students! Wendy’s commitment and hard work never cease to amaze me. I’m so fortunate to have her on my team.

Here is what Wendy has to say about her experience as a tutor:

“When I found School on Wheels I knew I just had to volunteer. I desire to help our youth find their passion. I love inspiring creativity, instilling the importance of education and watching them grow. I also enjoy teaching my students that they can realize their dreams with enough drive and perseverance.”

Daisy Arce, Regional Coordinator

Region 3 – Westside

Zhanna Guzhavina, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Zhanna Guzhavina. Zhanna has been such a big help this summer. She has taken on individual students at two different sites and also helps at group tutoring in Venice and at the Skid Row Learning Center. The kids love Zhanna. I am really appreciative of all of her time, dedication, and passion for School on Wheels.

“After graduating from USC, I really wanted to volunteer teaching kids because I strongly believe in the importance of giving back and the power of education. School on Wheels was a perfect fit, and volunteering here has been such an exceptional experience! All the kids here are so bright and all of them deserve a bright future, which is why I admire School on Wheels and am so grateful to be a part of this amazing organization. My favorite part about tutoring at School on Wheels is getting to know every student and becoming their friend. It is so fun teaching them and spending time together, and there is no better feeling than when a student understands a concept! I learn from the kids as much as they learn from me, and this has truly been one of the best experiences of my life.”

Kyle McDonough, Regional Coordinator

Region 5 – Hollywood, Silverlake, Pasadena

Patrick Anderson, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Patrick Anderson. Phenomenal, is the word that comes to mind when I think about this month’s Region 5 Tutor of the Month. Patrick started with School On Wheels in 2014 and he has been great! Patrick’s seriousness and attitude toward his commitment to our program is immediately noticeable.
He is not only a consistent tutor but he goes above and beyond to make sure his student is engaged during his tutoring sessions, and excelling in school. Recently Patrick has taken on a second student at a boys’ group home in Silverlake. I know his new student will benefit from his support. It is a great pleasure to work with such a wonderful individual and I look forward to him continuing with our program! In his own words:

“I first came to School on Wheels because I was looking for a meaningful and useful volunteer opportunity, and was also considering becoming a teacher. I liked School On Wheels’ mission and attitude, so I signed up to tutor and was paired with Tyler. Even though schoolwork wasn’t always his favorite thing to do, I could instantly tell he was a smart, witty, and thoughtful kid who was eager to learn,. Seeing Tyler get excited by an idea or figuring something out is always a thrill. He has challenged me to be a better teacher by showing me how much more a student learns when the material is made relevant to his or her interests and life.”

Lancella Hunter, Regional Coordinator

Region 7 – San Fernando Valley

Darien Onori, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Darien Onori. Darien is a consistent and dedicated tutor! She first joined School on Wheels in December 2015 and has been working hard ever since. Darien is very patient and flexible with her student and has supported her both academically and emotionally. Last month Darien took on another challenge by becoming a Tutor Coordinator that helps lead first sessions. She has been a great help in getting volunteers started tutoring! Darien’s tutoring and mentorship with Camryn is admirable!

In her own words, “School on Wheels has changed my life. I don’t think Camryn realizes how much she helps me grow every week. I don’t just tutor her, she tutors me and has no idea how much she has impacted my life, for the better. I couldn’t have chosen a better organization to be a part of. I chose to be involved with School on Wheels because I did not have anyone to guide me or help me in academics as I was growing up, and it was hard. So I wanted to be that help for someone else whether it be tutoring or just having someone there every week, someone they could count on.”

Brianna Grothe, Regional Coordinator

Online Tutoring

Elizabeth Vitanza, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Elizabeth Vitanza. Elizabeth has been an online tutor with us since October of 2015. Her consistency is key; the energy, focus, and love she brings to her tutoring sessions have provided a foundation of success for the students she works with. A full-time teacher, Elizabeth has also dedicated her time in-person to surprise and support her online tutoring student, Tyler. We are lucky to have Elizabeth on our team.

In her own words:

“Beyond the obvious benefits of getting quite good at dividing and multiplying fractions, working with Tyler has made me look forward to Monday afternoons. I’m sure our faces both light up a bit when I log on or walk into the School on Wheels Skid Row Learning Center (SRLC) to work with him. I have seen firsthand that the students School On Wheels helps are smart, motivated, gracious, and resilient. They have caring, loving parents who want them to succeed, just like other parents do. The SOW staff are endlessly patient and provide the structure that children need and crave (even more so I’m sure in the context of being homeless). I feel much more passionate about finding solutions to homelessness in LA and I am hoping to encourage my coworkers and even some of my older students to sign up to tutor online. I work full time and have my own small child at home – if I can find an hour a week, I’m sure a lot of other people can too.”

Ian Chan, Digital Learning Coordinator

Jun 1

Tutors of the Month – June 2016

Skid Row Learning Center

Sahand Pirbadian and Pouye Sedighian, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Sahand Pirbadian and Pouye Sedighian. One of the main character traits we help the students learn is teamwork. The wonderful husband and wife team of Sahand and Pouye is the perfect example! Every single Thursday they come to the Learning Center together to tutor whoever needs help. They also join us at the shelter when we take the students to play in the gym. Together they designed and executed an active game to help the kindergarteners learn the alphabet!

Here is what Sahand had to say about their experience, “We love tutoring at School on Wheels because we believe in the importance of education for every student’s future well-being. Coming to School on Wheels is an absolute joy and the highlight of every single week for us.”

Allison Maldonado, Skid Row Learning Center Instructor

Region 1 – East LA

Destiny Mendez, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Destiny Mendez. Destiny is a dedicated tutor and intern! She first joined School on Wheels in September 2015 and has been integral to the support and success of Region 1. She has served as a Tutor Coordinator for three sites, tutoring students at our various group homes and domestic violence shelters. Destiny plans weekly fun and creative activities to engage her students and provides continuing administrative support to staff. I could not be more grateful for her hard work and commitment.

In her own words, “I am honored to have the opportunity to work with such an amazing team. They all have one goal in mind and that is to help kids. When I started with School on Wheels, it exceeded my expectations. Getting the opportunity to work with these kids changed my perspective on life.”

Daisy Arce, Regional Coordinator

Region 2 – South LA

Rihana Noorzayee, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Rihana Noorzayee. Rihana is a very busy middle school student who finds the time to be a consistent tutor. She is accompanied by her mother Zarin, who often helps during her sessions. Rihana is so dedicated; she has been with the same student since she joined School on Wheels a year ago. She was recognized for her dedication by being awarded the Presidential Service Award for 100 hours of volunteering. I’m grateful to have her and Zarin in this region!

Kenisha Edwards, Regional Coordinator

Region 3 – Westside

Elin Schwartz, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Elin Schwartz. Elin was one of the first tutors that I had the pleasure of speaking with when I first started as Regional Coordinator in Region 3. I am so impressed and thankful for the amount of time and care she puts into her tutoring sessions and her student. She doesn’t just come to help with homework, but she works hard at identifying what exactly her student needs help with and filling in those gaps. Thank you so much, Elin, for your dedication and passion!

Tutoring has always been something I enjoyed. As a child, I worked with neighbor kids; through the years, I have volunteered at Headstart, PATH and Koreh LA. I found School on Wheels again a few years ago, after having tutored back in the 90’s when SOW was first forming. It was exciting to see how much it has grown and really inspiring to be part of it again.

Kyle McDonough, Regional Coordinator

Region 4 – Long Beach, South Bay

John Park, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– John Park. I wanted to join School on Wheels as a volunteer to make a positive impact in the lives of disadvantaged homeless kids. Being a positive role model and helping students build the foundation for their lives is extremely rewarding. From the supportive coordinators to the families and their children, it has been a wonderful experience. Watching the kids work, improve, and grow, despite great adversity, is nothing less than inspirational.

Louis Mena, Regional Coordinator

Region 6 – Inland Empire

Cheyne Burton, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Cheyne Burton. Cheyne has been an amazing School on Wheels tutor and tutor coordinator (TC) for the past year. Each week Cheyne provides consistency for the students, logs his hours regularly and uses creative techniques to engage the students in learning. Cheyne is not only an outstanding tutor and TC but is also a phenomenal positive role model. As a TC, he goes the extra mile. As a tutor and role model he looks for ways to motivate his students and guide them. Here is what Cheyne has to say about his experience as a tutor:

“Since I began tutoring with School on Wheels in April of 2015, my goal has been to help students with homework, offer guidance with career planning, or just be a friend that they know they can count on. The consistency I can provide students is the most rewarding aspect of tutoring at School on Wheels.”

Thank you for your dedication, you are such an inspiration, Cheyne!

Marisol Farfan, Regional Coordinator

Region 12 – North Orange County

Gabi Marino, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Gabi Marino. Gabi is an amazing tutor. She brings a lot of creativity and fun into their experience. Ramon seems very excited to see her and stays engaged throughout. I feel so blessed to have tutors like Gabi that have the heart and the passion. Thank you for making a difference Gabi! You are greatly appreciated!!

In her own words, “I have been tutoring with School on Wheels since September 2015; it has been a wonderful experience! I am currently studying to become a middle school math teacher. Tutoring has given me great practice and even more excitement about becoming a teacher.”

Trish Arias, Regional Coordinator

Online Tutoring

Fahim Zubair, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Fahim Zubair. Fahim’s unwavering dedication to his students and his meticulous attention to detail during his online tutoring sessions are qualities that provide our students with an essential foundation to grow and thrive. A college student at the University of Texas at Austin, Fahim has been an online tutor with us for over a year! We are so thankful to have Fahim on our team.

In his own words:

I cherish my experience with Schools on Wheels. Tutoring Vern and Killiy has been an irreplaceable experience for me. The drive, passion, and grit that Vern and Killy have demonstrated continue to fuel my own drive to achieve and pursue my goals and passions in life! I would like to express my deep appreciation to Schools on Wheels for providing me with the amazing opportunity and for opening my eyes to the realities of homelessness in the lives of our children and youth.

Ian Chan, Digital Learning Coordinator

May 2

Tutors of the Month – May 2016

School on Wheels Tutors of the Month for May 2016

Skid Row Learning Center

Osmond Cruz, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Osmond Cruz. In his own words: As I was looking for volunteer opportunities, I stumbled upon School on Wheels. On my first day of tutoring, I didn’t know what to expect because there were so many kids and only a few tutors. However, the kids were very welcoming and excited to have me sit with them. It was so much easier for me as a tutor, knowing the kids were eager to learn. Even though I’m there to teach them, they’ve also taught me patience and how to be a positive role model. I look forward to coming to School On Wheels each week, excited on what new stories the kids will be telling me and what new thing we can learn from one another.

Allison Maldonado, Skid Row Learning Center Instructor

Region 2 – South LA

Raquel Munoz, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Raquel Munoz. Raquel has been with School on Wheels for three year now, and unfortunately, this is her last year. She has been an amazing Tutor Coordinator and tutor.. Raquel has placed dozens of students with great tutors and has tutored over fifty students herself. Raquel will be greatly missed!

In Raquel’s words: Since June 2013 I have volunteered with School on Wheels, thanks to a very persistent friend of mine who insisted that I volunteer. Initially I thought there was absolutely no way that I could fit tutoring into my busy schedule, which included school and work. However, here I am three years later, and so glad that School on Wheels is a part of my life.

As an evolving professional, being a tutor and a Tutor Coordinator has been such an enriching experience. Because of my experiences with School on Wheels, I feel better prepared for this next chapter in my life, teaching English to young children in China.

Kenisha Edwards, Regional Coordinator

Region 3 – Westside

Group Tutors Bible Tabernacle, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Group Tutors Bible Tabernacle. This month I would like to highlight some of the tutors that go to our Homework Club night at Bible Tabernacle. Four or five tutors have been going there consistently for about a year now, and are doing a great job with the kids. Whenever I stop by, the kids know all of the tutors by name and are excited each week to come to group tutoring for help with their assignments. Thank you so much for all of your help! I’ve really seen the group of kids grow over the year and tutoring has been a big part of that!

Kyle McDonough, Regional Coordinator

Region 7 – San Fernando Valley

Devin McKinnon, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Devin McKinnon. Devin is a fantastic tutor and Tutor Coordinator! Since Devin started with School on Wheels in September 2015, she has been a strong leader and has helped many students improve their education. She plans fun educational activities for the students in group tutoring and helps coordinate the tutors! I truly appreciate her hard work, dedication to caring for children and positive attitude!

In her own words: I am lucky enough to have found my passion in life and that’s working with children. It’s the greatest thing in the world. Their energy and unique personalities keep a smile on my face all day. I found School On Wheels in an online volunteer search and thought it was such a great program. The students we tutor at the San Fernando Mission are so bright, positive and full of life. It is truly an honor to be able to spend time with them every week.

Brianna Grothe, Regional Coordinator

Region 8 – Ventura County

Anne Klein, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Anne Klein. Anne has been a tutor with School on Wheels since March of 2014. For the past two years Anne has been an exceptional tutor, seeking new ways to help and support the students she is working with. We are very grateful to have amazing volunteers such as Anne as part of our organization.

In her own words: I retired from a 25 year teaching career in Miami, Florida. I taught special education at all levels in public schools. The majority of my students were first generation Cuban; so I am quite familiar with the Hispanic community. I moved to Ventura nearly four years ago with the intention of doing volunteer tutoring. I was so happy to discover School on Wheels! I have been with them for many years and have been tutoring Marleth since February 2015. I want to ‘give back’ and my main motivation is my love of kids. Really, really miss them!

Lisette Gaeta, Regional Team Leader

Region 10 – South Orange County

Ramita Sawhney, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Ramita Sawhney. In her own words: I’ve always loved working with kids; at a very young age I started babysitting and spent my Sunday mornings working at a church’s childcare program for over six years. Once I graduated from college and started working full-time, I had extra time during the week and decided to volunteer. With my past experience tutoring kids, School on Wheels is the best way for me to give back to the community. I started this past year. It’s so nice to help the children with schoolwork, and to get to know them more personally. It’s rewarding to encourage them to utilize their maximum potential. I’ve found that they are great listeners and are very keen to learn.

Lilian Pahn, Regional Coordinator

Online Tutoring

Alyson Gonzalez, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Alyson Gonzalez. Since joining School on Wheels in August of 2015, Alyson has tutored more than ten students online; currently she tutors Nelson on Skid Row and Luis in Compton. Alyson’s warmth, passion, commitment, and preparedness are qualities that have helped her students improve both in their character and their academics. Thank you, Alyson, for your hard work and dedication!

In her own words: Before beginning tutoring with School on Wheels, I assumed that most homeless children did not have the same attitude to learning as their counterparts. Now, after tutoring Nelson and Luis, I see that I am wrong. Nelson and Luis are extremely bright; even though they lack stable environments and are often transient, they are extremely forward-looking and have the most positive outlook on life. They know that they can achieve anything as long as they strive for their goals. I am happy to help them and look forward to continuing to support them as long as I can. As much as I am an inspiration to them, they are also an inspiration to me. I truly believe that, thanks to School on Wheels.

Ian Chan, Digital Learning Coordinator

Apr 4

Tutors of the Month – April 2016

Region 2 – South LA

– Doug O’Connell. Doug made a video describing his tutoring experience with School on Wheels. In the video, Doug says he is honored to be selected as a Tutor of the Month and is inspired by the success of his student, Nathan. Thank you for your dedication, Doug!

Skid Row Learning Center

Jessica Pacheco, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Jessica Pacheco. We ask volunteers to give a minimum of one hour of their time each week and most tutors at the Skid Row Learning Center give two to three hours at a time. Then there is Ms. Jessica! Jessica came in needing to complete a certain amount of hours for a college class. Fifteen months later, Ms. Jessica is still helping and impacting the lives of children on Skid Row. She comes in two or three hours before the students arrive to help prepare, decorate, and organize the learning center. Then on an average day of tutoring, she often works with five to ten students spanning all ages. Throughout the Learning Center, you will find many signs of Jessica’s assistance and for that we are very grateful. She has been a part of our team for so long!

Allison Maldonado, Skid Row Learning Center Instructor

Region 1 – East LA, El Monte

Emily Alfaro, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Emily Alfaro. Emily has been a dedicated tutor since May of last year. Even though she’s a high school student with a busy schedule, Emily is responsible and committed to her tutoring sessions. When talking to Madison’s mom, she had nothing but great things to say about Emily. Madison has improved since working with her tutor and is now an honor roll student. Great job, Emily! Here is what Emily had to say about her experience as a tutor:

“I found out about School On Wheels and could not wait to join. Education is very important to me and sharing my knowledge to help others brings me such joy. I enjoy being a School On Wheels tutor because it gives me an opportunity to help kids improve upon their education. The best part about being a School On Wheels tutor is seeing a student excel in her academics”.

Thank you for your dedication, Emily! Special thanks and appreciation to Patty Alfaro, Emily’s mother for taking her daughter each week to her tutoring sessions. Thank you, Patty!

Marisol Farfan, Regional Coordinator

Region 5 – Hollywood, Silver Lake, Highland Park

Sabrina Aguilar, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Sabrina Aguilar. Sabrina has been a phenomenal tutor for School On Wheels since she started tutoring with us over a year ago. I can definitely count on her to take on a student in need, even with short notice. Sabrina’s background as a teacher definitely helps while tutoring and she does an amazing job making tutoring sessions interactive and engaging. It is a pleasure to get to work with you. Thank you for all you do!

I had been looking for volunteer opportunities and when I found School on Wheels I knew it was a perfect fit. Sokari is such a fun and sweet boy, it has been amazing to witness the progress he has made in such a short time. Working with Sokari has reminded me of the excitement of learning something new.

Lancella Hunter, Regional Coordinator

Region 7 – San Fernando Valley

Cindy Gunn, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Cindy Gunn. Cindy started with School on Wheels in June of 2015. Since her start, she has been a fantastic tutor for her student Aranza by supporting her both academically and emotionally. Cindy stays in communication and updates me on any changes. Her time and dedication to tutoring have made a positive impact in Aranza’s life. I truly appreciate all that Cindy does! Here is what she wrote about her tutoring experience:

I perused a list of volunteer organizations sent by one of our state legislators and School on Wheels caught my interest. I went to the training and realized that I was an older volunteer. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to connect with a student. But then I started to think about my life experiences and how it might help. My parents divorced when I was eleven years old and for about one year we did not have a home. Were it not for the generosity of a friend we would have been on the street. After high school, I went to nursing school and received my RN. My husband was in the US Coast Guard which meant that we moved around the country, exposing me to different cultures and lifestyles. After much thought, I concluded that with all of these experiences in my life, I just might have something to offer as a School on Wheels volunteer. I was assigned to an 11 year old student, Aranza. I have been able to share some of my early experiences with her and show her that we all are able to overcome difficulties. I have had such a positive experience with School on Wheels and would encourage others to become a tutor, no matter their age.

Brianna Grothe, Regional Coordinator

Region 10 – South Orange County

Mark and Mellina Horner, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Mark and Mellina Horner. We decided to become tutors after realizing that our work lives were taking over, and that we both wanted to have a feeling of giving back and doing something more meaningful with our after-work hours. Tutoring with School on Wheels has been a real blessing for us. It’s been a great experience to work with Isaiah and Isabel, and to see their grades improve. At the beginning of our tutoring together, we signed a “contract” that stated the goal grade for each subject and the reasons why doing well in school is important. It’s been great to see those goals achieved! They are a wonderful family and we are lucky to have the two of them as our students.

Lilian Pahn, Regional Coordinator

Region 12 – North Orange County

Aaron Cruz, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Aaron Cruz. Aaron has been tutoring with School On Wheels since the beginning of the school year. During that time, he has been fortunate enough to work with the same student, Destiny. He has shown exceptional dedication and care for Destiny as he consistently goes above and beyond for her.

In regards to why Aaron began with School On Wheels: I am always looking to find ways to give back to the community. I began by donating blood to the American Red Cross. I am back in school for a degree in Business Administration and decided to use the extra time that I have to help those in need.

Laura Schickling, Regional Coordinator

Online Tutoring

Cathie Alter, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Cathie Alter. Cathie joined School on Wheels in September of 2015. A retiree Cathie brings a wealth of real world experience to her tutoring sessions and her students describe her as “fun”, “caring”, and “super cool”. Cathie’s kindness, passion, and consistency are felt organization-wide, and we are a better team because of her contributions. Cathie — Thank you.

In her own words:

School on Wheels online tutoring program provides me with the opportunity to help children learn and share in the excitement of their success. I find this extremely rewarding.

At first, I didn’t feel connected with the students. I missed the nonverbal communication of in-person tutoring. I could see and hear the students, but I felt something was missing. That’s no longer true. I’ve adapted and now believe online tutoring is a great way to teach children. The children not only receive academic support, but they also have an opportunity to develop their computer skills. Most homeless children would not have this opportunity without the School on Wheels online tutoring program.

Ian Chan, Digital Learning Coordinator