Category: Star Volunteers

Jul 1

Tutors of the Month – July 2016

Skid Row Learning Center

David Kagen, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

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

Allison Maldonado, Skid Row Learning Center Instructor

Region 1 – East LA

Wendy Rodriguez, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

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

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

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

Daisy Arce, Regional Coordinator

Region 3 – Westside

Zhanna Guzhavina, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

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

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

Kyle McDonough, Regional Coordinator

Region 5 – Hollywood, Silverlake, Pasadena

Patrick Anderson, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

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

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

Lancella Hunter, Regional Coordinator

Region 7 – San Fernando Valley

Darien Onori, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

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

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

Brianna Grothe, Regional Coordinator

Online Tutoring

Elizabeth Vitanza, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

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

In her own words:

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

Ian Chan, Digital Learning Coordinator

Jun 1

Tutors of the Month – June 2016

Skid Row Learning Center

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

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

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

Allison Maldonado, Skid Row Learning Center Instructor

Region 1 – East LA

Destiny Mendez, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

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

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

Daisy Arce, Regional Coordinator

Region 2 – South LA

Rihana Noorzayee, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

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

Kenisha Edwards, Regional Coordinator

Region 3 – Westside

Elin Schwartz, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

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

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

Kyle McDonough, Regional Coordinator

Region 4 – Long Beach, South Bay

John Park, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

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

Louis Mena, Regional Coordinator

Region 6 – Inland Empire

Cheyne Burton, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

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

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

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

Marisol Farfan, Regional Coordinator

Region 12 – North Orange County

Gabi Marino, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

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

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

Trish Arias, Regional Coordinator

Online Tutoring

Fahim Zubair, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

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

In his own words:

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

Ian Chan, Digital Learning Coordinator

May 2

Tutors of the Month – May 2016

School on Wheels Tutors of the Month for May 2016

Skid Row Learning Center

Osmond Cruz, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

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

Allison Maldonado, Skid Row Learning Center Instructor

Region 2 – South LA

Raquel Munoz, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

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

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

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

Kenisha Edwards, Regional Coordinator

Region 3 – Westside

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

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

Kyle McDonough, Regional Coordinator

Region 7 – San Fernando Valley

Devin McKinnon, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

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

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

Brianna Grothe, Regional Coordinator

Region 8 – Ventura County

Anne Klein, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

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

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

Lisette Gaeta, Regional Team Leader

Region 10 – South Orange County

Ramita Sawhney, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

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

Lilian Pahn, Regional Coordinator

Online Tutoring

Alyson Gonzalez, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

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

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

Ian Chan, Digital Learning Coordinator

Apr 4

Tutors of the Month – April 2016

Region 2 – South LA

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

Skid Row Learning Center

Jessica Pacheco, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

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

Allison Maldonado, Skid Row Learning Center Instructor

Region 1 – East LA, El Monte

Emily Alfaro, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

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

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

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

Marisol Farfan, Regional Coordinator

Region 5 – Hollywood, Silver Lake, Highland Park

Sabrina Aguilar, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

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

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

Lancella Hunter, Regional Coordinator

Region 7 – San Fernando Valley

Cindy Gunn, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

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

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

Brianna Grothe, Regional Coordinator

Region 10 – South Orange County

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

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

Lilian Pahn, Regional Coordinator

Region 12 – North Orange County

Aaron Cruz, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

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

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

Laura Schickling, Regional Coordinator

Online Tutoring

Cathie Alter, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

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

In her own words:

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

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

Ian Chan, Digital Learning Coordinator

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