Category: Star Volunteers

Mar 2

Tutors of the Month – March 2016

Jason, one of our Tutors of the Month

Skid Row Learning Center

Holly Norman, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Holly Norman. The Skid Row Learning Center helps students after school who live, amongst other places, at the Union Rescue Mission. Sometimes students have such a long commute that they may not arrive at the shelter until dinner time, leaving little time to do homework. To help these students, we set up group tutoring twice a week where they live. We were not sure if any students would attend. Holly Norman was one of the very first tutors to sign up for the task. We now have between eight and ten tutors at the Union Rescue Mission on various nights, and each tutor helps one or two students. Holly was an essential part of making this happen. Her consistent presence encouraged students to show up, and her friendliness helped them open up! She recently moved to Orange County where she will continue to help other School on Wheels students. We are grateful for all Holly has done at the Union Rescue Mission; she will be missed!

Allison Maldonado, Skid Row Learning Center Instructor

Region 3 – Westside

Clara Pitsker & Susan Edelman, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Clara Pitsker & Susan Edelman. This month I would like to honor a mother / daughter team that have been wonderful and supportive tutors to two sisters, Jada and Chanelle. I know these students from group tutoring and they are always talking about their tutors and how much they enjoy meeting with them. Thank you both for all you do!

When a friend told me and my teenage daughter about School on Wheels I thought it would be a great opportunity for her to be of service and help others that are less fortunate. I imagined I would drop off Clara at the orientation, drive her to tutoring, etc. I didn’t expect that I would become a tutor as well. I ended up staying for the tutor training, and was inspired by the amazing work that School On Wheels does. I feel as though the little girl I tutor is family, and every minute we spend together has made me grateful for having School on Wheels in my life and for providing the services they do. You guys are the best! – Susan

When I heard about School on Wheels, it sounded like a great opportunity to help others and give back to the community. I’m thinking about becoming a teacher after college, and this was a perfect way to help and tutor someone else. I feel like my student has shown improvement in math, and we’re starting to build a friendship as well. – Clara

Kyle McDonough, Regional Coordinator

Region 4 – South Bay, Long Beach

Jose Thimothy Long, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Jose Thimothy Long. Through my high school career center, School On Wheels was posted along with many other volunteer options. SOW had so much to offer. It gave me the opportunity to help other children as I do my younger brother. Not only did I get the opportunity to give back to the community but I could hope to inspire a child by helping the student recognize his/her strength. Being a part of SOW has made me realize how much I enjoy teaching. Through this amazing program I learned selflessness and have gained a greater appreciation for a strong education. I now understand what a big part education plays in a person’s life, and that helping a child flourish is extremely gratifying.

Louis Mena, Regional Coordinator

Region 5 – Hollywood, Silver Lake, Highland Park

Paige Kaplan, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Paige Kaplan. Paige has been an amazing tutor who has definitely been there for her student. Paige helps her student academically but is a great mentor as well! Paige teaches her student life lessons and is also a great role model. Her passion and dedication truly shows, and we are so grateful to have Paige on the School On Wheels team! In her own words:

I work with Sumaita on her homework assignments that she is having trouble with, and I also help her study for exams. Math is one of the main subjects we work on. I often find myself explaining different ways to approach problems to her. I have found that helping her understand why we take certain steps, when solving a problem, is more effective than simply memorizing the steps. One of my favorite tutoring moments was when Sumaita and I talked about college: different ways to pay for it, why it’s important, if she thinks she wants to go, and what kind of careers she could have after graduating. It was really cool to see her realize things she may not have been told before and see her express an interest in higher education. Other favorite times were when we took a trip to my favorite coffee shop downtown to study and when we went to the Natural History Museum . Beforehand I taught her how to pump gas.

Lancella Hunter, Regional Coordinator

Region 6 – Inland Empire

Jannah Jakvani, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Jannah Jakvani. Jannah began tutoring in July 2015. She has been such a pleasure to have on my team, always positive, friendly, caring and seems to make an immediate connection with her students. Her passion for helping others is very apparent in her personality and the way she interacts with families. She is great about logging her hours and commenting about her sessions. Here is what Jannah had to say about her experience as a tutor:

I decided to volunteer with School on Wheels because I value education a lot and being able to share my love of education with someone else is amazing! Trinity is such an intelligent and sweet girl. I look forward to tutoring every week because I am able to share my enthusiasm about education, and help her see that if she sets her mind to something, she can accomplish it. The best part about tutoring is being able to see the improvements your student has accomplished over time. I am extremely glad to have the opportunity to tutor with School on Wheels.

Jannah, you are GREATLY appreciated!!

Trish Arias, Regional Coordinator

Region 8 – Ventura, Santa Barbara

Lisa Olmstead, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Lisa Olmstead. Not only is Lisa our wonderful bookkeeper, she has also been tutoring for five months now! Lisa heard about School On Wheels before she began working here and always knew she wanted to get involved in directly supporting School On Wheels’ mission. As I chatted with Lisa about her tutoring experience, she shared with me that she was a bit nervous that her student might bring work that she wouldn’t be able to help with. Fortunately, that has not happened. Lisa says the most helpful resources she has used during tutoring are the math assessments. She’s also made good use of the links to math worksheets. I truly admire all the hard work you put in at the office, Lisa, and even after a full day’s work, you show up to tutoring prepared with activities and a positive attitude. It is no wonder your student has improved from being at a third grade level to being at fifth grade level. Keep up the great work, Lisa!

Terrie Soto, Regional Coordinator

Region 12 – North Orange County

Jason Lee, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Jason Lee. Jason has been tutoring with School On Wheels since March of 2015. During that time, he has been fortunate enough to work with the same student, Deseree.

In his words, I love to learn, but I didn’t always know this. My decision to become a School on Wheels tutor has opened my own eyes to a whole world of endless opportunities. My student’s excitement about the science projects I introduced to her has encouraged me to show the same excitement about everything that I have yet to know. She has unknowingly encouraged me to pursue my own dreams and passion.

Laura Schickling, Regional Coordinator

Online Tutoring

Vivek Shah, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Vivek Shah. Vivek joined School on Wheels as an in-person tutor in November of 2014. Since moving to Michigan to attend medical school, Vivek continues to tutor with us as an online tutor. Despite his busy schedule, Vivek always makes time to tutor consistently each week. We are very lucky to have Vivek on our team. Miles away, he continues to make a difference.

In his own words:

Tutoring with Kaliyah has truly been a joy. I have seen so much growth and excitement in her during our tutoring sessions; it’s more energetic each time. She’s learning some relatively complex topics in school. By the end of our sessions, Kaliyah can do a practice question with minimal guidance. Seeing that I can make an impact on Kaliyah has honestly made me consider working with children as a pediatrician for the rest of my career.

I’m so happy that School on Wheel has an online tutoring program. I worked with students in-person when I lived in LA and was bummed at the possibility of no longer being able to tutor after I jetted off to medical school. I love teaching so much, and online tutoring is a brilliant idea. There are very few, if any, other organizations that offer tutoring to the population that School on Wheels does. And then to expand the number of available tutors from California to nationwide by offering online tutoring is going the extra mile. I’m proud to be a part of School on Wheels and glad to be tutoring with them!

Ian Chan, Digital Learning Coordinator

Feb 1

Tutors of the Month – February 2016

Kylie, one of our Tutors of the Month

Skid Row Learning Center

Kylie Banks, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Kylie Banks. Since July 26th, 2014, Saturday mornings at the Skid Row Learning Center are full of laughs and giggles thanks to the amazing energy brought by Ms. Kylie Banks! Students do not always get a full night’s sleep at the shelter which can lead to morning grumpiness. Once the kids see Ms. Kylie, they immediately cheer up. Kylie greets each student and her fellow volunteers with a wide smile and friendly handshake. She makes everyone feel welcome and inspired. After three months of tutoring, Kylie was asked to take on a bigger role as a Tutor Coordinator. She began by helping with phone calls and clerical work. Now she is the Tutor Coordinator for group tutoring at the union Rescue Mission where she ensures that the students who are unable to attend the after school program are still able to receive tutoring and support. Kylie says, “I love School on Wheels because there’s nothing better than working with wonderful students and watching them succeed. Everyone who works and volunteers with School on Wheels truly cares about the organization’s mission and I really feel that I’m making a difference each time I tutor.”

Allison Maldonado, Skid Row Learning Center Instructor

Region 1 – East LA to Pasadena

Sasana Kachirsky, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Sasana Kachirsky. Sasana has been an extraordinary School on Wheels tutor since 2014! Her creativity and passion for teaching have made a tremendous impact on her student Gilbert’s life. Each week Sasana provides consistency and uses creative techniques to engage her student in learning. Sasana portrays outstanding qualities as a volunteer by logging her hours weekly, adding comments to her logs, preparing for her sessions and going the extra mile to make her sessions engaging and fun for her student. Here is what Sasana had to say about her experience as a tutor:

I’m very glad to have learned about School on Wheels from my friend Evan Panas. Sharing my enthusiasm about learning new things with students who need some extra support has become a highlight of my week! Remembering the struggles in my own school years and the encouragement of my teachers and my parents is a feeling that I will never forget. It pushed me further than I thought I could go. I hope that the students I work with will also feel that encouragement, that their education is important and that there is someone that cares about their progress and their future.

Sasana, thank you for your dedication and support!

Marisol Farfan, Regional Coordinator

Region 3 – Westside

OMD Entertainment Tutors, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– OMD Entertainment Tutors. This month I would really like to recognize a great group of volunteers from OMD Entertainment that have been wonderful tutors in my region. They have been coming to one of my group tutoring sites every Monday for almost a year now, and the students there are always excited to see them each and every week. What has really been great is that with their support, we have expanded tutoring at this location; now we are able to help a lot more kids because of their consistency and commitment to the program. We have students there with grades ranging from Kindergarten to 6th grade. It can definitely be challenging, but the tutors are always patient and will often stay late to help finish homework or work on a supplementary activity. The tutors come from quite a distance and battle traffic for 45 minutes to an hour directly from work, but they always show up with smiles on their faces ready to jump in with a student, or multiple students, that need their help. I want to thank all of them for their hard work and dedication.

Kyle McDonough, Regional Coordinator

Region 4 – South Bay, Long Beach

Nicholas DeLucca, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Nicholas DeLucca. My name is Nick and I’ve been a School On Wheels tutor since October 2015. Becoming a tutor was my mom’s idea. She’s a teacher and knows there are many kids out there who could use a little extra help. So she looked for a volunteer opportunity that we could both do. I really enjoy working with younger kids and like going to visit Alyssa every week. She seems really excited to see me which makes me feel like I’m making a difference. I often do my own homework in the car on the way to tutor, but it’s worth it. The feeling of helping someone else is motivating.

Louis Mena, Regional Coordinator

Region 5 – Hollywood, Silver Lake, Highland Park

Christopher Van Nest, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Christopher Van Nest. This month we are proud to highlight Chris as Region 5’s Tutor of the Month. Chris has such a positive and friendly energy which he uses to connect with each of his students at the group home where he tutors! He has been with us for about a year and we are so grateful to have him on our team. He is such a wonderful role model to his students and an awesome mentor. In his own words:

Chris got involved with School On Wheels for three reasons; he was broke, unemployed, and wanted to give back to the community. He joined the organization in February, 2015 after just moving to the city. He knew that making a difference in a child’s life was more fulfilling than what Maury was talking about on tv that day, and it is! He has made personal connections with each of his high school students, and enjoys the fact that they feel comfortable enough with him to discuss topics outside of school.

Lancella Hunter, Regional Coordinator

Region 8 – Ventura, Santa Barbara

Kaycee Holcomb, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Kaycee Holcomb. Although Kaycee has only been working with Krystal for a month, I can already tell Kaycee is making an impact in Krystal’s life. Right after the first week, Kaycee contacted me with specific supplies Krystal needed and said she would also be helping Krystal apply for the School On Wheels scholarship to participate in a dance class. When asked, Kaycee says she became a volunteer tutor because she grew up with a support system of family and mentors that helped her along the way; she wants to be able to give back in that way to a student. It is clear that Kaycee has a genuine interest in Krystal’s well-being, building a mentorship relationship with Krystal aside from working on multiplication tables. You have been a pleasure to work with and I look forward to seeing all the progress you and Krystal make together. Thank you, Kaycee, for being a positive role model and support person to Krystal!

Terrie Soto, Regional Coordinator

Region 10 – South Orange County

Nancy Okamoto, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Nancy Okamoto. Nancy joined our School on Wheels team in November and about her volunteer experience says:

I have been involved in one type of volunteer activity or another since high school. My cultural background of Judaism has taught me to think of oneself as a citizen of the world, that we are responsible for others around us. I especially enjoy working with children since they can be so open and spontaneous. It is such a joy to work with a child and to think that you may help them understand something better – to make sense of their world. This gives them confidence to tackle challenges they may face and to empathize with people around them. School on Wheels gives me the opportunity to be a bigger part of my community.

Lilian Pahn, Regional Coordinator

Online Tutoring

Kojo Quaye, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Kojo Quaye. Kojo joined School on Wheels as an online tutor in June, 2015. Since then, he has tutored students of all grade levels, ranging from 2nd to 12th grade. Kojo’s commitment to his students is inspiring; his patience, flexibility, and understanding help him attend to the ever-changing needs of each of his students with ease. It is a pleasure to name Kojo our online tutor of the month! In his own words:

At my very first tutoring session, my student needed help with chemistry as they had an exam the next day. I did my best to explain the concepts in a clear and relatable way. Towards the end of the session we did a quick review of what we had gone over; and I asked the student if it made sense. He responded “Yeah, I’m not so intimidated anymore”. For me that was the best thing I could have heard. Online tutoring has made me think about my early education and made me realize how fortunate I was to have the resources that I did, to enable me to succeed at school. Thanks to the advancement of technology, it’s great to know that others can now have access to those resources remotely so they too can do well in school. It’s great to see how happy and confident students get when they answer a question correctly and work hard to get there. I’ve had a great time doing online tutoring with School on Wheels and hope to continue.

Ian Chan, Digital Learning Coordinator

Dec 4

Tutors of the Month – December 2015

Sabra, one of our Tutors of the Month

Region 10 – South Orange County:

Sabra Morris, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Sabra Morris. Sabra just celebrated her first year anniversary with School on Wheels. She genuinely cares about each and every one of her students and goes the extra mile to make them feel special. Her students’ faces light up when I ask them about tutoring and they really look up to her as a role model. We are so thankful for her dedication to our students and to School on Wheels.

I have loved every second. My husband is also a volunteer, and he recommended School On Wheels to me. I write for a living and love to work with young people; so this seemed like the perfect fit, and it was! I’ve had so much fun getting to know my students, and tutoring my current student, Lynette, has been so rewarding for both of us.

Lilian Pahn, Regional Coordinator

Skid Row Learning Center

Heidi Vogl, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Heidi Vogl. I first became familiar with School on Wheels over three years ago when we were filming the independent feature film “Between the Miles” at the Skid Row Learning Center. The film centers around three homeless teens, runaways from the system. I was immediately intrigued and inspired by the mission of School on Wheels and have been most amazed by the fact that, despite overwhelming odds and circumstances, most of the children at the Skid Row Learning Center are incredibly positive, happy and resilient. They just need someone in their corner telling them that they are cared for and capable of leading successful lives, that their dreams matter and that they matter. At School on Wheels, they have many “someones” doing just that.

Allison Maldonado, Skid Row Learning Center Instructor

Region 1 – East LA to Pasadena

Jimmy Chan, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Jimmy Chan. Since March, Jimmy has been a phenomenal School on Wheels tutor. His creativity and passion for teaching have made a big impact on his students’ lives. Each week Jimmy provides consistency and uses creative techniques to engage his student in learning. Besides his mentoring abilities, Jimmy has demonstrated outstanding leadership skills. He is willing to help where needed, even if that means commuting two hours. Here is what Jimmy had to say about his experience as a tutor:

The act of helping students who weren’t given the opportunity to live their lives with hope and passion is something that I hold close to my heart. Since volunteering with School on Wheels I hope that I have shown the students ways to find “the light at the end of the tunnel” through knowledge and education. As the saying goes, “You learn something new every day.” I use that phrase in tutoring each week . The best reward I get is seeing the hope and passion grow in the students as they begin to recognize the value of their future.

Jimmy, thank you for your dedication!

Marisol Farfan, Regional Coordinator

Region 2 – South LA

Daisy Pineda, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Daisy Pineda. Daisy joined School on Wheels in 2012 as a dedicated tutor. She has just resumed her position as a Tutor Coordinator in Compton at a transitional shelter. Daisy has helped tremendously by matching tutors with students and reaching out to parents. I am extremely grateful to have her help!!

Tutoring School on Wheels students has challenged me to stay creative and learn new ways of teaching. Each of my students has inspired me in some way, not only in my professional life but my personal life as well. I am now a Tutor Coordinator which means I also have the opportunity to assist in welcoming new tutors! This has truly been a life changing experience. Thank you School on Wheels!

Kenisha Edwards, Regional Coordinator

Region 3 – Westside

Cathi Carlton, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Cathi Carlton. Cathi was one of the first tutors I matched with a student as the new Regional Coordinator for Region 3. She has done an amazing job! She goes above and beyond to find creative ways to help Kayla get ahead in her school work. Kayla has really made strides with her reading because of Cathi. Thanks, Cathi, for all you do to help Kayla learn and for being such a dedicated tutor!

My friend recommended volunteering with School On Wheels when I spoke with her about wanting to work with children. The training was an easy process. I was excited when Kyle called me to tell me there was a student in my neighborhood and asked if I could come that evening. Kayla and I made a strong connection at first sight. It has been such pleasure working with Kayla and meeting the other kids at the shelter. I really enjoy volunteering with School On Wheels and think that it is a wonderful organization which supports our community.

Kyle McDonough, Regional Coordinator

Region 6 – Inland Empire

Tom Rodriguez, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Tom Rodriguez. Tom has been a tutor with School on Wheels for about nine months now and has been with his student from the beginning. It is very obvious that he has made a tremendous impact on Anthony and the bond they have built will be life lasting! He has not only provided Anthony with the tools to excel in his school work, but he has given him the hope, trust and encouragement that he may not have received from anyone in the past. Tom has been a true friend, mentor, and excellent tutor to his student. I am so proud to have him on my team! Here is a bio written by Tom:

I graduated from Loma Linda University in 2006 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Clinical Laboratory Science. In 2010, I enlisted in the Army National Guard. Currently, I work for a government subcontractor training doctors across the country how to perform medical evaluations for military servicemembers and veterans. My hobbies include running marathons, six this year alone and counting.

Trish Arias, Regional Coordinator

Region 12 – North Orange County

Elizabeth Mack, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Elizabeth Mack. Elizabeth has been a tutor with School On Wheels for 6 months. During this time, she has proven to be a thoughtful, caring, and accommodating tutor. She always puts her student’s needs first and comes up with creative ways to make the content interesting. Beyond the academic side, it is clear that Elizabeth cares for her student as a person. She is not simply there to help with homework, but also supports and encourages her future dreams and aspirations. Her enthusiasm and easy-going nature make her a pleasure to work with and I am thrilled she found School On Wheels.

I want to be a supportive a positive mentor towards young children, helping them foster an appreciation and love of learning.

Mission accomplished, thanks Elizabeth!

Laura Schickling, Regional Coordinator

Online Tutoring

Tomer Gurantz, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Tomer Gurantz. Tomer has been an online tutor with us since March of this year, but has tutored with us since 2013. Tomer made the switch from in-person to online tutoring because of his hectic and busy schedule. Tomer is an energetic and dynamic tutor who demonstrates an attentiveness to the specific needs, interests, and aspirations of his students, and we are inspired by his passionate and unwavering commitment to our mission.

For me, the best experience was surprising Tasir by coming into the Skid Row Learning Center for the first time, when he didn’t expect it. Everyone in the Center helped me set it up where I got online with him from two rooms over and then pretended that the connection was bad and that we would not be able to continue with online tutoring. I then walked into his room and asked him: “Is this better?” The smile on his face: priceless.

Ian Chan, Digital Learning Coordinator

Nov 2

Tutors of the Month – November 2015

Region 2 – South LA

– Jon Hammond-Hagan. Jon made a video describing his tutoring experience with School on Wheels. In the video, Jon says that he can honestly say that he can see the positive impact that School on Wheels has on all of the students he has worked with. Thank you for your dedication, Jon!

Region 4 – South Bay, Long Beach

Sara Chisholm, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Sara Chisholm. I originally joined School on Wheels in February 2014 to fulfill my New Year’s resolution which was to start volunteering on a regular basis. I came across School on Wheels in a Google search and thought it had a great mission, carried out by dedicated people. My first session, which was group tutoring at a shelter, was chaotic (in a good way), fun and inspiring. I was nervous about my capabilities and how students would respond to me, but they were so excited to have some individual help and attention that my apprehensions dissipated. I enjoyed working with the little kids on their coloring and with middle schoolers on their algebra. I saw glimpses of progress even though I never knew who would be at the shelter that evening or when the families would be gone. Since those first sessions, I’ve become more confident as a tutor, and I’ve been inspired by the students’ perseverance and determination to learn despite their stark disadvantages. I feel lucky to be part of this group of tutors and students fighting against the cycle of poverty for a brighter future.

Louis Mena, Regional Coordinator

Region 5 – Hollywood, Silver Lake, Highland Park

Olivia Scott, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Olivia Scott. Olivia has been with School on Wheels for a year now and she has definitely been a joy to have on our team! I absolutely love her enthusiasm and dedication. She is now working with her third student and has definitely had a positive impact in each of her students’ lives. When she is not busy tutoring, she dances, models and acts. A HUGE thank you to you, Olivia, for being a part of School on Wheels! We really can’t exist without great tutors like you!

In her words: Having grown up with a mother who is a grade school teacher, I appreciate the importance of education in relation to a person’s success in life. My mother always tries to build children’s self esteem by being respectful and by keeping things light. After living in LA for a few years, I realized that I needed to get more involved in the community. What better way than working with children? I have fun and learn something every week that I work with Chris. I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to work as a School On Wheels tutor.

Lancella Hunter, Regional Coordinator

Region 7 – San Fernando Valley

Sam Miller, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Sam Miller. Sam is an amazing tutor! He is energetic, enthusiastic and quickly bonds with his students. Since Sam started tutoring, he has taken on more responsibilities. As a tutor he meets consistently with his student, always logs his hours and improves his student’s education! Over time Sam has volunteered more and is now a Tutor Coordinator who helps me make tutor/student matches, facilitates first sessions and works with the database. Needless to say, Sam is a fantastic volunteer and I am so happy he started tutoring with School on Wheels!

In his words: I migrated to North Hollywood from the frozen and deserted land of South Dakota three years ago. I spend most of my day chasing around my six month old Lhasa/Terrier dog named Addison. With the time that’s left, I manage musicians, play in a band, and try to write novels. I got involved with School on Wheels six months ago when I found the organization online, and since have tutored two awesome students in Pacoima named Steven and Dominic.

Brianna Grothe, Regional Coordinator

Region 8 – Ventura County

Amanda Evans, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Amanda Evans. I knew Amanda was going to be an awesome tutor when she showed up to her first session with a tote bag full of materials, crayons, books, and assessments! Amanda heard about School On Wheels through her supervisor at Ventura County Credit Union, who has also been a volunteer tutor for three years. While participating in Ventura County Leadership Academy, Amanda began to explore social issues facing Ventura County. As Amanda researched the issue of homelessness within our county, she was reminded of the volunteer tutor opportunities her supervisor had shared with her. Before becoming a School on Wheels tutor, Amanda, along with the marketing department at Ventura County Credit Union, helped organize a school supplies drive two years in a row. After applying to become a volunteer tutor, Amanda says, “I was nervous because I didn’t know what to expect. After going through the tutor training, I felt more confident about it, but I was still anxious to know what tutoring was going to be like. I was nervous and excited at the same time! I really wanted to do a great job.” I admire Amanda’s enthusiasm for making tutoring fun and engaging for Joshua by incorporating art and educational apps, which are his favorite! Amanda says that Joshua does his homework on the bus, just so they can spend the hour focusing on fun tutoring activities.

Amanda, from the beginning, you have put Joshua’s needs at the forefront. You have gone above and beyond and I want to thank you for giving 100% to being a tutor!

Terrie Soto, Regional Coordinator

Region 12 – North Orange County

Ryan Hsieh, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Ryan Hsieh. Ryan has been a tutor with School On Wheels for six months. He brings passion, understanding, fun, and patience to each of his sessions. But not only does he go above and beyond for his student every week, he has recruited new tutors from his high school for School On Wheels. Thanks to Ryan, there are many more tutors supporting homeless children’s education throughout Orange County.

In his words: As a little kid, I really enjoyed helping my peers in school. It brought me a sense of achievement when everything suddenly made sense for the other person. Throughout my high school career and experience in Key Club, I have been fortunate enough to interact with homeless people on several occasions. I have learned that they are intelligent and loving people, just like everyone else, but without opportunities that many take for granted. Schools On Wheels [has been a] perfect opportunity to give back to the community while also allowing me to love the experience.

Laura Schickling, Regional Coordinator

Online Tutoring

Manasvi Pinnamaneni, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Manasvi Pinnamaneni. Manasvi currently tutors four students online. Her commitment to her students as well as the amount of detail and care she pours into preparing for and teaching her lessons are inspiring. We are truly fortunate to have Manasvi on our team, and her students are lucky to learn from her each week.

In her words: I wanted to tutor to become engaged in my community and to use my education to help others pursue theirs. Online tutoring allowed me to accommodate this into my irregular schedule. I am currently working with four students, each learning different topics and requiring unique lesson plans. In every session, we try to approach learning in a way that incites curiosity and critical thinking, skills that will last them throughout their lives. One of my goals is to establish a comfortable and stable learning environment. While this is a more difficult task over the distance of the internet, I feel that it is a crucial part of making education rewarding. One of my students, Cassie at a shelter for youth, really helped me feel that my efforts were worthwhile. When she let me know that her tutoring session was one of the highlights of her week, I felt incredibly lucky to be able to provide this kind of academic setting. Every day that I work with my students, I am grateful to be a part of their education. Tutoring has never felt like an obligation to me, rather something to look forward to. I learn a lot from my students, and they help me broaden my worldview and challenge me to be better.

Ian, the Digital Learning Coordinator at School on Wheels does an excellent job of supporting the online tutors with important updates, tutoring tips and strategies, learning resources, and just being available to us for support. Also, the online tutoring platform is very easy to use.

Ian Chan, Digital Learning Coordinator

Oct 2

Tutors of the Month – October 2015

Region 2 – South LA

– Amanda Daoud. Amanda made a video describing her tutoring experience with School on Wheels. In the video, Amanda describes how Damian used to throw temper tantrums at the very beginning of their tutoring sessions. After a few weeks, Amanda says he now wants to do his best and make her proud.

Skid Row Learning Center

Chris Goodman, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Christine “Chris” Goodman. In April 2014, a mother/son tutoring duo joined our team. I had no clue on that first day what an inspiration they would be to me and the students. Since she began, Chris has helped students of all ages. Her expertise as a law professor came in handy when she developed multiple worksheets to implement a program where the students engage in lively debates involving real life scenarios. She also helped a first grader (who consistently resisted reading) learn to love to read! To this day, he still asks for his favorite book: Go, Dog Go!

When asked about her experience, Chis stated, “I love to read and reading continues to be a significant part of my life. I try to motivate children to first learn and then love to read by finding stories about things that matter to them, whether it be cars, robots, friendships, super heroes, or even dogs. Making learning fun is the key to inspiring life-long learning habits, and I like using props, like the abacus with its colorful beads for math homework.”

Allison Maldonado, Skid Row Learning Center Instructor

Region 1 – East LA to Pasadena

Brenda Ramirez, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Brenda Ramirez. Brenda has been an outstanding School on Wheels tutor since 2014. During this past year, she has gone beyond “the extra mile”; she tutors in a group setting twice a week, organizes field trips and implemented creative activities during our summer program. Her creativity and passion for teaching have made learning fun for the students. Each week Brenda provides consistency and uses ingenious techniques to engage the students in learning. Here is what Brenda has to say about her experience as a tutor:

The students I work with make this experience so wonderful. They test you, challenge you and love you. In the beginning I wanted to volunteer because I felt a duty to serve others; now it has become a spiritual practice for me. It has revealed patience, dedication and goodness in others. It has motivated me to do better and become a better individual. There is always work to be done and we all must work together to restore our communities.

Thank you for your dedication; you are such an inspiration, Brenda!

Marisol Farfan, Regional Coordinator

Region 4 – South Bay, Long Beach

Ben Philpott-Matson, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Ben Philpott-Matson. Ben has been tutoring with School On Wheels for about a year and a half. In that time, he has shown dedication, care, and patience to his student Antonio. Ben always brings energy and expertise. Week after week, he has a smile on his face and a new, creative activity perfectly tailored for Antonio that inspires him to learn. In his words:

When I began tutoring at School on Wheels, I knew I would meet children who face incredible odds. In my experience, these children tend to have such big hearts and a will to succeed despite setbacks in their lives because of the way their extraordinary experiences have shaped their character.

Louis Mena, Regional Coordinator

Region 5 – Hollywood, Silver Lake, Highland Park

Gabriella Maynetto, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Gabriella Maynetto. Gaby is an amazing tutor, mentor, and volunteer! Besides being an amazing tutor, Gaby has helped out by volunteering to represent School On Wheels at one of our informational booths. Thanks so much, Gaby, for all your hard work and being a great School On Wheels tutor! In her own words:

After graduating from the university and after acquiring full time employment, I decided to look for ways to become engaged in my community and especially the underserved communities in Los Angeles. I found School on Wheels online and think their work is very progressive and compassionate. Being a tutor and mentor is valuable and is important to me because it is a way to give back to the community and to invest in the education of the most vulnerable students. It is a pleasure to represent School on Wheels as a tutor and an honor to work with the students we serve. I would encourage others to consider spending one hour once a week with a student and becoming a positive role model in a student’s life. It is a rewarding experience and a powerful investment in education.

Lancella Hunter, Regional Coordinator

Region 7 – San Fernando Valley

Mary Silver, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Mary Silver. Mary has made a great difference in the lives of her students since February of this year! She has been an amazing tutor for Bonnie and made a big difference in her education. Shelter staff have told me repeatedly how impressed they are with the hands-on educational activities she brings for Bonnie. Mary continually goes above and beyond her role as a tutor in her lesson planning, logging and communication. I really appreciate Mary and Bonnie for all of their hard work and dedication to learning and growing together!

Brianna Grothe, Regional Coordinator

Region 10 – South Orange County

Heather De Felicis, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Heather De Felicis. Heather is a long term volunteer for School on Wheels. She truly is a volunteer that goes above and beyond.

In her own words:

I tutored for School On Wheels in Los Angeles County for over a year, but when I moved to Orange County for work, I unfortunately had to take a break to focus on my new job. I missed tutoring so much! I believe that the key to ending poverty and making a better world is through education. There is nothing more satisfying than helping someone learn something new– seeing that light click on is so magical!

Lilian Pahn, Regional Coordinator

Online Tutoring

Katrina Jiang, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Katrina Jiang. Katrina joined us earlier this year as an in-person tutor at the Skid Row Learning Center. Since moving to Berkeley to attend college and despite her busy schedule, Katrina continues to tutor with us online and has had the opportunity to reconnect with her former students on Skid Row. Thank you so much, Katrina, for your continued dedication. We are very proud and very lucky to have you on our team!

In her own words:

I immediately seized the opportunity to continue working with School on Wheels as an online tutor. Through the online tutoring program, I kept in touch with Angie, one of the students I formerly worked with in person at the Skid Row Learning Center, and I guided her through learning the fundamental concepts of Computer Science. We began developing a practical understanding of basic coding, a skill that I wished I had picked up earlier in life and that I hope will help her in her academic career. It made me genuinely smile to see her engaged in an important subject that commonly is not (but should be) taught in regular school curriculum. I now tutor Alex, a student at the School on Wheels Digital Learning Center in Compton, and I have equally high hopes for him to succeed! Whether tutoring online or in person, I can truthfully say that I proudly align myself with School on Wheels and am truly making a difference for homeless children. Since tutoring with School on Wheels, I found that as the children I worked with were growing into well-rounded individuals, I grew with them, developing greater compassion and patience not only for the students, but also for myself. My students and I, we’re not that different; we can still learn so much, together. Thank you for the opportunity, School on Wheels!

Ian Chan, Digital Learning Coordinator

Sep 2

Tutors of the Month – September 2015

TJ, one of our Tutors of the Month

Region 10 – South Orange County

Tsuyoshi Johnson, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Tsuyoshi Johnson. TJ started tutoring with School on Wheels in May of this year. He tutors with the Teen Math program at one of our shelters in Santa Ana. He has the patience of a saint, and he is amazing working with the teens. Not only is he an outstanding tutor, but he is always happy to help in other ways. He has taken the lead in helping us test a new Khan Academy Pilot at the shelter, and he offers his support for new tutors at his site. It truly is a better tutoring experience for the teens because TJ is there! We are so thrilled to have him on our team. In his own words:

My tutoring experience with School On Wheels has been great! I am fortunate to have found this avenue to offer some assistance to kids with their studies. School On Wheels provides the perfect atmosphere for tutors and tutees to concentrate on the lessons. Also, the School On Wheels’ portal offers an online solution that allows you to log your sessions and track your progress with the kids.

Through the years I’ve found that most children have the necessary tools within them to be successful in school. However, there are so many kids who are in circumstances that are not conducive to such success. We are all born into certain situations without a choice in the matter. I often wonder why I was chosen to be born into my own unique situation where I had the essentials and the ability for my parents to play an active role in my success. These thoughts often led me to a feeling of guilt, but one day I decided that I too can provide support to kids to assist in their academic success. About four years ago, I decided to tutor. I enjoy it very much and find that, in working with kids, they are able to get my mind off of my daily responsibilities. It’s like they have a magical way of turning me into a kid again.

Lilian Pahn, Regional Coordinator

Region 3 – Westside

Peter Westermayer, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Peter Westermayer. Peter is simply one of the most dedicated tutors I have ever met, and we are lucky to have him at School on Wheels. He has been tutoring Lily for years and has made such an impact on her life that it really exemplified to me just how special that tutor / student bond can be. Thank you so much, Peter, for your continued dedication, and we hope to have you many more years! I In his own words:

As with most wonderful things in life, I stumbled upon the great organization, School on Wheels. I was looking for volunteer opportunities in 2010. My first two assigned students were living with their families at the Union Rescue Mission and both boys were great. During my assignment both families were able to thankfully transition into permanent housing. I then took a break to work overseas with Doctors Without Borders in South Sudan for a few months, but I was eager to start again with SOW upon my return. My experiences in South Sudan only reinforced my belief that education is a lifeline. Since then my current student Lilly has been a wonder to me as Lilly is bright, articulate and very funny. Our three years together have been a journey upward in academic progress and increasing confidence. I am constantly amazed at how much difference one hour per week can make in a student’s academic life. These students need the extra help and attention to help them achieve an academic foundation and the springboard to realizing their dreams. What better way to “count one’s blessings” than to give back to the community of Los Angeles? I would recommend this program to anyone who is willing to lend a patient hand.

Kyle McDonough, Regional Coordinator

Region 5 – Hollywood, Silver Lake, Highland Park

Daisy Salinas, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Daisy Salinas. This month we would like to highlight Daisy’s outstanding volunteer work with School on Wheels. Along with being a great tutor, Daisy decided to tutor two students at a time because there was a need for more help at the location. Daisy previously worked with children as a Teacher’s Assistant, which provided an opportunity to share their wonderful knowledge with students. We are grateful to have Daisy with us! When not tutoring, college course work and creating amazing art take up Daisy’s time. Thank you for all that you do! In Daisy’s words:

My brother was my first tutor. I was a terrible student. Couldn’t read, couldn’t write, my math was bad, but he worked with me to help me. I would be tired, my hand would be sore from all the writing. Sometimes we’d stay up all night just finishing homework or reading. It was tiring, but looking back it was worth every moment. I think it’s important to share one’s knowledge and experiences with others. Though the results and influence one has on others may not manifest itself right away, in the long run every little action has meaning. I am grateful to have the chance to with with both Andre and Denzel. Both their parents have worked so hard for them and care deeply about their education. I hope that I am a positive influence in their lives as well.

Lancella Hunter, Regional Coordinator

Region 6 – Inland Empire

Mathangi Suresh, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Mathangi Suresh. It is an honor to recognize Mathangi as Tutor of the Month. She has been a tutor for School on Wheels since 2014 and has been an exceptional inspiration to students! She is well respected and engages her students to help them meet their challenges and goals. In her own words:

I graduated from UC Berkeley with a Bachelor of Arts in Integrative Biology in May of 2014, and am currently applying to medical school. My dream is to become a surgeon and spend some time serving in underserved and rural communities. I got involved with School on Wheels because I wanted to give back to my community and felt this program was the perfect way for me to share a part of myself with the wonderful people around me. The year I’ve spent with School on Wheels has been an amazing experience! I’ve met and become friends with a diverse group of students, each with their own unique dreams and goals. I have had so much fun working with my students and have learned a lot from them.

Trish Arias, Regional Coordinator

Region 8 – Ventura County

Clinton and Eileen Vocke, School on Wheels Tutors of the Month

– Clinton and Eileen Vocke. Clinton and Eileen Vocke have been married for 35 years and have lived in Ojai for 30 years. With five grown children, and four grandchildren, ranging from age 1 to 21, they brought a breadth of wisdom and experience to tutoring at the Kids to Kids group home with girls. They heard about School On Wheels through their church newsletter and will be celebrating ten months as tutors in September! Despite the walls foster youth build up, Clinton and Eileen were patient, kind, and always arrive at the group home prepared with fun activities to engage the girls. In Eileen’s own words:

The group home was different than what we initially expected but we have found it very rewarding. The girls remind us so much of our own daughters. Although they are in very difficult circumstances, they always seem pleased to see us. Our greatest compliment was when one of the girls called us “everyone’s grandparents”. We are grateful for the opportunity to make a connection with these girls.

Terrie Soto, Regional Coordinator

Region 12 – North Orange County

Naomi Sunshine, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Naomi Sunshine. Naomi has been tutoring with School On Wheels for just a few months. In that time, she has shown dedication, care, and patience to her student Jonathan. As a future teacher, Naomi always brings energy and expertise. Week after week, she has a smile on her face and a new, creative activity perfectly tailored for Jonathan that inspires him to learn. In her words:

I truly believe student learning should not be hindered by the stresses of poverty. The simple act of supporting homeless children is a positive influence in their lives. As a future teacher, I understand how vital it is to close the educational gap for all students and to provide them with quality educational assistance that is modified to meet their unique needs. Volunteering for School on Wheels makes a positive difference in my life as well because I am able to create a meaningful bond with a student who faces adversities but is still working hard towards meeting his personal academic goals.

Laura Schickling, Regional Coordinator

Online Tutoring

Sophia Batalha, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Sophia Batalha. Tutoring Railene for the past several months has been a wonderful experience because I know I am helping someone that needs the mentorship and support. Every time we have a lesson, we accomplish something. We fill out multiplication tables, read stories, and even work through division problems. When I first started online tutoring with School on Wheels, I was a little nervous. But, when I got more comfortable with tutoring as well as with using the online tutoring platform, I wasn’t nervous anymore and got excited before every session. Before I started tutoring with School on Wheels, I was oblivious to how many kids and teens need the help. I am glad my sister introduced me to School on Wheels!

Sophia, thank you for continuing to be a light for Railene and for showing up each week with so much energy and passion. Fun fact: Sophia (a high school student) online tutors Railene from across the nation with her older sister, Natasha Batalha (a graduate student). Online tutoring has enabled them to connect not only with their student, Railene, but also with each other, for an hour and a half each week.

Ian Chan, Digital Learning Coordinator