Category: Star Volunteers

Dec 4

Tutors of the Month – December 2015

Sabra, one of our Tutors of the Month

Region 10 – South Orange County:

Sabra Morris, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

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

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

Lilian Pahn, Regional Coordinator

Skid Row Learning Center

Heidi Vogl, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

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

Allison Maldonado, Skid Row Learning Center Instructor

Region 1 – East LA to Pasadena

Jimmy Chan, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

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

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

Jimmy, thank you for your dedication!

Marisol Farfan, Regional Coordinator

Region 2 – South LA

Daisy Pineda, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

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

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

Kenisha Edwards, Regional Coordinator

Region 3 – Westside

Cathi Carlton, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

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

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

Kyle McDonough, Regional Coordinator

Region 6 – Inland Empire

Tom Rodriguez, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

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

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

Trish Arias, Regional Coordinator

Region 12 – North Orange County

Elizabeth Mack, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

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

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

Mission accomplished, thanks Elizabeth!

Laura Schickling, Regional Coordinator

Online Tutoring

Tomer Gurantz, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

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

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

Ian Chan, Digital Learning Coordinator

Nov 2

Tutors of the Month – November 2015

Region 2 – South LA

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

Region 4 – South Bay, Long Beach

Sara Chisholm, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

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

Louis Mena, Regional Coordinator

Region 5 – Hollywood, Silver Lake, Highland Park

Olivia Scott, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

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

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

Lancella Hunter, Regional Coordinator

Region 7 – San Fernando Valley

Sam Miller, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

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

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

Brianna Grothe, Regional Coordinator

Region 8 – Ventura County

Amanda Evans, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

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

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

Terrie Soto, Regional Coordinator

Region 12 – North Orange County

Ryan Hsieh, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

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

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

Laura Schickling, Regional Coordinator

Online Tutoring

Manasvi Pinnamaneni, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

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

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

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

Ian Chan, Digital Learning Coordinator

Oct 2

Tutors of the Month – October 2015

Region 2 – South LA

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

Skid Row Learning Center

Chris Goodman, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

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

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

Allison Maldonado, Skid Row Learning Center Instructor

Region 1 – East LA to Pasadena

Brenda Ramirez, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

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

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

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

Marisol Farfan, Regional Coordinator

Region 4 – South Bay, Long Beach

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

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

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

Louis Mena, Regional Coordinator

Region 5 – Hollywood, Silver Lake, Highland Park

Gabriella Maynetto, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

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

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

Lancella Hunter, Regional Coordinator

Region 7 – San Fernando Valley

Mary Silver, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

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

Brianna Grothe, Regional Coordinator

Region 10 – South Orange County

Heather De Felicis, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

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

In her own words:

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

Lilian Pahn, Regional Coordinator

Online Tutoring

Katrina Jiang, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

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

In her own words:

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

Ian Chan, Digital Learning Coordinator

Sep 2

Tutors of the Month – September 2015

TJ, one of our Tutors of the Month

Region 10 – South Orange County

Tsuyoshi Johnson, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

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

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

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

Lilian Pahn, Regional Coordinator

Region 3 – Westside

Peter Westermayer, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

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

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

Kyle McDonough, Regional Coordinator

Region 5 – Hollywood, Silver Lake, Highland Park

Daisy Salinas, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

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

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

Lancella Hunter, Regional Coordinator

Region 6 – Inland Empire

Mathangi Suresh, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

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

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

Trish Arias, Regional Coordinator

Region 8 – Ventura County

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

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

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

Terrie Soto, Regional Coordinator

Region 12 – North Orange County

Naomi Sunshine, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

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

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

Laura Schickling, Regional Coordinator

Online Tutoring

Sophia Batalha, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

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

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

Ian Chan, Digital Learning Coordinator

Aug 1

Tutors of the Month – August 2015

Tyler, one of our Tutors of the Month

Region 5 – Hollywood, Silver Lake, Highland Park

Tyler Edmonston, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Tyler Edmonston. This month we would like to honor Tyler Edmonston for being an outstanding tutor to his student. Tyler not only takes the time to tutor his student, but he really does goes the extra mile to personalize his tutoring sessions to her needs. In his own words:

When I first heard of School On Wheels, I was truly in awe of the positivity the organization brings to students and the community. Yet, after learning of School On Wheels last year, I spent several months making sure that I was “ready”, so to speak, to become a tutor. When I joined in early 2015, my only regret was that I did not pursue tutoring with School On Wheels sooner! It’s been inspiring to see my student progress and to also meet the other volunteers. I’m so thankful to be part of this organization!

Lancella Hunter, Regional Coordinator

Region 3 – Westside

Debra Kaufman, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Debra Kaufman. Debra has been such a great help to Jonathan, and I am so glad the two of them have connected. She has especially helped him with his writing and has always been flexible with her time to make sure she meets with him each and every week. Thank you, Debra, for all you do! In her own words:

I love working with young people, especially teenagers. I had read about School on Wheels before but another mention on the radio reminded me. I attended the volunteer training and, after a couple of false starts, was matched with Jonathan. He’s a bright student who wants to improve his writing – and teaching writing is a specialty for me, since I’ve been a journalist for over 20 years. It’s a great match and I really enjoy my time with Jonathan…and with School on Wheels.

Kyle McDonough, Regional Coordinator

Region 4 – South Bay, Long Beach

Lisa Utsinger, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Lisa Utsinger. Lisa has been a tutor with School on Wheels since February. Because she is such a great role model for the students, Lisa is Region 4’s Tutor of the Month. Lisa joined the Army at a young age and was stationed in Germany for many years. Once she finished her tour of duty in Germany, Lisa came home and enrolled as a full-time student at Hope International University. She is now in the Army Reserves and works full time as a computer consultant at the Veteran Administration Hospital in Long Beach.

Lisa loves the outdoors, running and doing outdoor obstacle courses. She also enjoys reading and writing. With all that Lisa does, she has found time to tutor with School on Wheels. She says that it is her most enjoyable hour of the week. She also says that she feels a responsibility towards the youth of our community and that this is the best way she can help. Lisa, thank you for all you do for School on Wheels’ students and for our country.

Louis Mena, Regional Coordinator

Region 6 – Inland Empire

Song Jeong, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Song Jeong. Song has been a volunteer with our program since June 2014. She’s been instrumental in getting students at both of the group homes she works with to be successful. Song even helped co-facilitate an online workshop we hosted last year for all our tutors. In her words:

I first got interested in volunteering for School on Wheels because of its cause. As a graduate student at CSUF for special education, I wanted to give back to the community by doing what I know and enjoy doing the most, which is teaching. Also, I liked the fact that School On Wheels focused on helping homeless youth which was both new and a bit nerve-wracking at first. However, as I have been volunteering at the group homes for a year now, I have learned tremendously. Behavior, classroom management, and building rapport have been the biggest areas where I grew with the experiences. Yes, there are times when things get hard and my patience is tested. But my students have allowed me to mature as an educator just like red wine. Therefore, I cannot thank the students and School on Wheels enough for allowing and trusting me to be a part of the team. I am truly looking forward to what the next year with School On Wheels will look like.

Thank you Song! We are truly happy to have you be a part of our team!

Trish Arias, Regional Coordinator

Region 7 – San Fernando Valley

Laura Hine, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Laura Hine. Laura has been a fantastic tutor for School on Wheels since she joined the team in April of this year. She has worked hard to help Arman improve in reading and math. As a tutor, she is a great example of being flexible with the family, making tutoring fun for Arman, logging her hours, and going above and beyond in everything she does! In her words:

My journey with School on Wheels began a few months ago with an ‘Aha’ moment. I was in the checkout line at the grocery store and was saddened by the efforts of a teenage girl trying to read the cover of a tabloid magazine but with no success. While she outwardly struggled to sound out the word ‘summer,’ I experienced an inner struggle, a real crisis of consciousness. How could I give back to the community and help such a prevalent problem with our youth? Enter School on Wheels. School on Wheels has allowed me to tangibly use my English degree while giving my student the consistent one-on-one attention that is crucial for his bright future and current success in school. Although watching the educational progress of my student is unbelievably rewarding, the true reward lies in the gratitude and patience we have acquired for each other, and how elated I feel that I get to spend time with him and make a difference every week.

Brianna Grothe, Regional Coordinator

Region 12 – North Orange County

Yuri Ceriale, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Yuri Ceriale. Yuri has been tutoring with School On Wheels for over a year. A student of Troy High School, she dedicates every Friday night to working with Jeshua, her student of over a year. During this time, she has constantly gone above and beyond for Jeshua. She is patient and caring, all while keeping a sense of humor that is always appreciated. She has helped spread the word about School On Wheels at her school, and many other students have followed her lead.

When asked what motivated her to tutor, Yuri responded, “I am currently attending a top high school, enrolled in the most rigorous curriculum. However, I’ve realized that I am only here because of the tremendous amount of help I’ve received from others. I want to be the provider of that help in another person’s life. I want to inspire kids to aim high, too.”

Thank you for all you do, Yuri!

Laura Schickling, Regional Coordinator

Online Tutoring

Megan Barrett, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Megan Barrett. Over the past several years, as I’ve continued to expose myself to a greater diversity of people through volunteer work, I’ve become less interested in “being the best” and more focused on enabling others to become their very best. School on Wheels has been paramount in this transition. I find myself anxiously awaiting my next tutoring session, thinking endlessly about how I can best convey the information to my student, and smiling awkwardly to myself as I think back to the previous week when my student was finally able to solve that fraction problem on their own. School on Wheels has afforded me the ability to use education to empower a child, to help (even in some small way) provide them with the confidence necessary to take on life’s daunting tasks…and that opportunity is absolutely unparalleled! Overall, I can confidently say that tutoring has afforded me the recognition that my greatest potential, my ability to “be the best”, is realized not through personal triumph but through empowering others and through cultivating their own success.

Thank you, Megan, for the consistency, thoroughness, and passion you bring to your tutoring sessions. You make a difference! Fun fact: Megan has tutored 10 students online since joining our team!

Ian Chan, Digital Learning Coordinator

Jul 2

Tutors of the Month – July 2015

Liz Reznak, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month
Liz Reznak, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Region 1 – East LA to Pasadena

Liz Reznak, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Liz Reznak. Liz has been an amazing School on Wheels tutor for ten months. Her creativity and passion for teaching have made learning fun for the students. Here is what Liz has to say about her experience as a tutor:

In 2014, I decided to join School on Wheels through the volunteer program at my work. I was encouraged by my best friend Matt Haze who has been involved with School on Wheels since 2009. Now we tutor together, and I look forward to it each week. I’ve always had a passion for education; working with our students and seeing them progress helps me to keep it alive. Thanks, School on Wheels!

Thank you, Liz, for being such a phenomenal tutor and a consistent person in Lariell’s life.

Marisol Farfan, Regional Coordinator

Region 2 – South Los Angeles

Alejandra Lepe, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Alejandra Lepe. Alejandra has been with School on Wheels for a short time, but she has been amazing. She joined as a Tutor Coordinator and has contributed tremendously in her two months of volunteering. Alejandra has helped start group tutoring at a L.A.U.S.D. school in Gardena, which was not easy. As a result, we have helped eight homeless students who were significantly behind academically. I look forward to working with Alejandra to identify more students in need in L.A.U.S.D.

As I found myself succeeding in life and education, I knew I had to find a volunteer program where I could give back for all the help I received. I came across School on Wheels through VolunteerMatch. I can’t express how fascinated I was to learn about this amazing organization. We may think that we will be an inspiration for these children, but I believe they are our inspiration. Homeless students encounter many obstacles on a daily basis and still manage to join us for an hour once a week for tutoring.. They have the will to keep trying and not give up on their educational goals. I work with five to six children in a group setting; we have developed a bond that is more important than tutoring. I hope that I can impact their lives in the best way possible. My experience so far has been incredible!

Kenisha Edwards, Regional Coordinator

Region 3 – Westside

Mahsaw Motlagh, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Mahsaw Motlagh. Mahsaw has been so enthusiastic about helping from the very beginning; she comes to her sessions prepared and structured so that her student gets to work on a little bit of every subject. Thanks, Mahsaw, for all your hard work and commitment to your student!

After graduating from college last year, I knew that I wanted to spend more time serving the community in Los Angeles. As a first-hand witness to the disparate nature of education in LA, I started researching volunteer tutoring positions. Now, nearly twelve weeks later, meeting with my student is the highlight of my every week. As serendipitous as my arrival was to this organization, I could not be more grateful for the opportunity to be a tutor. I have cultivated a sincere passion for teaching and am inspired in the presence of my student during our sessions. The feeling of making a positive impact on someone’s life is truly unparalleled — and I am fortunate to experience this every week with Joseph. At the end of each session, we draw together, and I can tell that Joseph is an artist in the making. My favorite moment thus far has been when he drew Pete the Cat for me (and even signed his name at the bottom of the page too)!

Kyle McDonough, Regional Coordinator

Region 8 – Ventura County

Jennifer Moore, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Jennifer Moore. Although Jennifer has only been a tutor for a little over a month, it is already evident that she and her student will be making great strides. After seeing her in action, I admire that Jennifer gives her student a voice and allows her to make decisions about what she would like to learn during their tutoring sessions. Jennifer has really taken advantage of many of School on Wheels’ resources; she will be participating in the Summer Program with her student. When asked, Jennifer says, “I am really looking forward to using the summer program, and I appreciate that School on Wheels offers a structured summer program.” Raising her own child with learning disabilities, Jennifer wants to help other kids who may not have the same resources that her son has. She sees School on Wheels as the perfect fit; and, the rest, as they say, is history!

By far, the best thing [about becoming a tutor] has been meeting Rhianna and getting to know her.

Terrie Soto, Regional Coordinator

Region 10 – South Orange County

Kylie Toy, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Kylie Toy. Kylie joined the School on Wheels family as a member of the “School on Wheels at UCI Club” last fall and started tutoring in January 2015. Since the beginning of her involvement with School on Wheels, Kylie has always gone above and beyond what was expected of a volunteer and tutor. She genuinely cares about her student and their family and took the lead in making sure that they were receiving the help that they needed. She took the initiative to organize tutoring for all the children in her student’s family. We are thrilled to have Kylie as part of our team and look forward to working with her and the UCI Club in reaching more students next year. Thank you, Kylie!

Tutoring, while initially challenging, has certainly been a rewarding learning experience for me. However, while my time working as a SOW tutor has been short, I have become very involved in the School on Wheels at UCI chapter. I immediately fell in love with School on Wheels’ mission and goals, and took a more active role in the UCI club by planning holiday parties and workshops at winter shelters. I also helped to orchestrate large-scale, campus-wide college tours for Orange County and Los Angeles School on Wheels students. Next year I will be Vice President of our club; I am thrilled to become even more involved in the organization and hope to bring light to more students’ lives.

Lilian Pahn, Regional Coordinator

Region 12 – North Orange County

InJae Yoo, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– InJae Yoo. InJae has been a tutor with School On Wheels for six months. When asked what motivated him to volunteer, InJae said, “I believe in the power of education and want to share the joy of learning. Volunteering with School on Wheels is a great way to give back to my community.” He has certainly met those inspiring goals. InJae is hardworking, committed, and dedicated to helping his student. He constantly goes above and beyond what is expected of a tutor and is incredibly easy to work with.

InJae has tutored the same student throughout his time with School on Wheels. When asked about the effect InJae has during tutoring, his student’s mom said that InJae is like part of their family. Her son is so comfortable with InJae; as a result, his students’ grades and self-esteem have gone up. InJae is truly making the difference, and I cannot thank him enough for everything he does!

Laura Schickling, Regional Coordinator

Online Tutoring

Farrah Haddad, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Farrah Haddad. I’m having a wonderful experience with School on Wheels. The staff are very supportive and always do the best they can to ensure successful tutoring sessions including tech support, scheduling, tutoring resources, and follow-up with families. Since I started tutoring earlier in the year, I’ve learned that these children are incredibly bright and have many exceptional qualities; it has been a touching experience to interact with them and witness their resilience. My favorite moment so far was with my student Jonathan when he rattled off the “4 “ times table just two hours after doubting that he could learn it. Jonathan’s attitude slowly changed from one of despair and disappointment in his abilities, to one of confidence as he started to repeat under his breath, “Yeah, I’m smart. I can do this!” during our tutoring sessions. Overall, online tutoring introduces a novel and fun way for students to learn; and, it eliminates the time and logistics needed for transportation and space to tutor, which in turn helps maximize the time available for learning. If you’re looking to broaden your impact, online tutoring is a great way to reach students who are most in need all across the country. I am honored and privileged to help School on Wheels students make leaps in their education!

Thank you, Farrah, for all your hard work, persistence and being such an important and consistent part of our students’ lives. Fun fact: Farrah is our first tutor from the State of Virginia!

Ian Chan, Digital Learning Coordinator