Category: Star Volunteers

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

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