School on Wheels students who attend our after-school learning center were treated to a surprise visit from Mayor Garcetti yesterday
Mayor Eric Garcetti visited School on Wheels’ Skid Row Learning Center (600 E 7th Street, Los Angeles) to find out more about the center. The children knew that someone from the city was visiting and had prepared questions in advance but did not know that it was their mayor who would be the VIP visitor!
Questions from students to the mayor… How do we stop trash going into the ocean? Where do people that are on the street go when there is an earthquake? What are sidewalks so[sic] rumboled? How can we stop graffiti? Why do people have guns? And why do people live on the streets? When asked by a student “Why are shelters used instead of homes,” the mayor said, “We want shelters to be a place where people go in an emergency, not where you grow up.”
Sadly for the students at School on Wheels, many are growing up in shelters. The mayor offered hope by saying that they were building extra housing and that homelessness was his priority, but he noted these things take time.
The mayor also talked to the children about libraries, parks, water and the 2028 Olympic games. He told the students that all sports for kids would be free in the city and that they could be the next Olympians.
After a tour of the center, the mayor was interviewed by local media and was then whisked away for his next appointment.
“The kids, staff and volunteers at the center were thrilled to have met the mayor, “ said Catherine Meek, Executive Director. “Our students are really smart and they kept him honest with the questions they asked him!”
Eric (12th Grade) – Having recently moved to another shelter, Eric had been struggling with adjusting to his new environment. Reluctant to join our online tutoring program at first, Eric eventually developed a strong bond with his online tutor, Folu, a biomedical engineering student at Walla Walla University in Washington. Eric enjoys catching up on math and science and learning about college. Eric’s mom and shelter staff have noted that since he began tutoring with Folu, Eric has increased in his confidence in school as well as in his overall attitude and demeanor. Go, Eric!– Ian Chan, Program Administrator
Santiago (4th Grade) – has done a great job of keeping up with his homework. He is always prepared and ready to go when he arrives for tutoring. He is so polite, considerate and a “good boy.” He thanks me for helping him. Even though he just turned 9 years old, has already internalized the belief that he can be successful by doing well in school. One of the cutest things he does when reading to me out loud is that he will pause at words like “stupid” or “jerk” because he has been told by someone else in his life that these aren’t nice words. I tell him that it is ok to go ahead and say these words out loud because, after all, we are practicing reading. I actually know that he can read these words because when he gets to them he looks up at me for permission to say them. He is just that kind of kid. A pure delight! – Stephen Smith,Tutor
Leo (age 10) is an intelligent, creative thinker who is noticeably reflective and empathetic for his age. He loves graphic novels and his charter impressions make reading them with him a joy. The displayed picture shows a drawing he made of two of his favorite heroes, Finn and Jake. It seems like every time we meet Leo’s reading skills and focus get sharper. Keep it up Leo!
– Jarred Olson,Tutor
Skid Row Learning Center:
Stephanie (8th Grade) has improved tremendously. She is helpful to both staff and students alike. Her kindness, willingness to take direction and dedication to her education make her an excellent choice for Student of the Month.
– Jason Wright, Skid Row Learning Center Specialist
Maile (3rd Grade) is such an outgoing girl. Upon my arrival to our tutoring sessions, she always has a smile on and is eager for our session. For the last couple of weeks, she has been working really hard to master her multiplication tables. She is now learning her sixes. I am so proud of Maile and her accomplishments. We have lots of fun making slime and making volcanos.
– Gabriela Nunez, Tutor
Mahalaysia (5th Grade) – It has been such a joy to help my current student develop not only her math and reading skills but also her confidence. Every week she is more motivated to tackle new academic challenges, and I look forward to continuing to help her develop valuable skills.
– Amber Monterosso, Tutor
I have many favorite students but would like to highlight Jesse, who I have personally spent a lot of time tutoring. I’m known as “Mr. Chris, The Math Guy” and Jesse loves his math, so I have been working with him every week. I always challenge him with extra questions, and he is so motivated to do well, it feels so great to be a part of that success!
– Chris Ruoff,Tutor Coordinator
Heiress (3rd Grade) has made steady improvements since she began online tutoring. In the beginning, Heiress had a hard time keeping focused throughout our sessions. Now, Heiress has started to develop attention to detail while working. She takes pride in her homework, loves art, and enjoys reading aloud. Way to go, Heiress!
– Olivia Galvan, Online Tutor
Malachi (Kindergarten) was very shy when I first met him. In the beginning, he did not have tons of confidence when we had our lessons. But now, if you ask him to count, he is excited to do it for you. He’s recently learned to write his name, and now anytime we start a worksheet, he immediately says, “I’m going to write my name!” While he’s still learning the letters of the alphabet, he approaches it with more confidence than he did before. Instead of “I can’t do that,” he’s starting to say “I’ll try to do that.”
– Marissa High, Tutor
Marie (3rd Grade) When I first started working with Marie, she was struggling a bit with her math homework. What was great to see, though, is that as soon as she realized she had an advocate in me and that it was OK to ask questions when she didn’t understand to get more explanations, she became very engaged and proactive. She requests additional practice for problems that are more challenging and, overall, has a wonderful, can-do attitude. She is more confident and enjoys our work together.
– Pamela Worona, Tutor
Issa (5th Grade) was 11 years old and was doubtful about having a new tutor. Fortunately, we clicked, and we worked on his weakest subject, math. He was enthusiastic to learn, and learn he did. In the end he did very well on his tests, and his confidence went through the roof! – David Salazar, Tutor
I hear a lot of people asking what can we do to combat the racism, ignorance and hatred exhibited on the streets, in leadership positions and in the hearts of many who live in our country. Over 80 percent of our students are children of color; 53 percent are of Hispanic heritage. And they are afraid. Many are used to fear, anxiety and stress – they experience those feelings every single day because they are homeless. They are used to being bullied, shamed and ridiculed.
We must let our students and their families know that the actions unfolding in places like Charlottesville are unacceptable and not reflective of who we are as a community. At School on Wheels, we value diversity, inclusion and equality. We deplore and condemn white supremacists and neo-Nazis in the strongest terms. We affirm our commitment to serving the most vulnerable and fragile among us – homeless children.
We must not be defeated by bigotry and ignorance. In the midst of all this sorrow, darkness and anger, we can stand up, speak out and remind ourselves that in our School on Wheels community, we have thousands of people who believe that love and truth will win out. I am inspired by the courage our students display every day just to go to school, the generosity of our supporters and friends who sustain us, and the precious time and dedication our volunteers give to our students.
There is much work to be done, and we need your help to do it. So if someone asks you, “What can we do to help, to uphold our shared values, to demonstrate love and kindness?” tell them to use their energy and power to support organizations like School on Wheels. We can make a huge difference in the life of a homeless child. This is what we can do.
Davion (2nd Grade) I have recently been working with Davion, a 2nd grade student, who is inquisitive, bright and very sweet. He loves to read and, though he has some challenges, he is always excited to learn. He especially loves reading his favorite books, the Wimpy Kid series. The best compliment I got from him recently was when he asked me, “Can you come again tomorrow?” How could I ask for anything more!
– Theresa Sterling, Tutor
Mickey (6th Grade) Mickey was a quiet kid when I first met him, tapping his foot nervously and a bit apprehensively. After a few sessions, we got to know each other, and I figured out that we needed to break up the session a bit more by doing 15 minutes of work and then taking a short break. We usually do word searches as a reward, and he really seems to enjoy that. After tutoring him for a while, he is now much more comfortable. We always chat about what’s new, and the mentoring part of it has been great. He is a really sweet kid with a calm demeanor and will never say “no I don’t want to,” which is half the battle. It has been great getting to know him. – Armin Szatmary, Tutor
Angela (4th Grade) is a vibrant, curious and loving young girl with a passion for singing. She loves singing so much that it’s her dream to become a famous singer someday. In fact, I found that one way of inserting fun into our tutor sessions together is to sing. For example, I will sing (though I’m a horrible singer), “Angela, what is 7×2?”, and Angela will sing back, “it’s 14!”. Angela struggles with math, but she is motivated to learn, and I found that by making tutoring fun in a way that appeals to her, she enjoys it and learns more. I always look forward to our tutoring sessions together, and it’s very rewarding to hear how she’s improving and building self-confidence in various areas of her life. Together, Angela and I make a great team. – Stephanie Swenseid, Tutor
Giselle (Age 10) is such a delight. Every session Giselle is well-mannered, eager to learn and a sweet girl to spend time with. In addition to being a wonderful person, Giselle is a great student and puts a lot of effort into her studies. Whenever we practice her spelling words, she is always well prepared. She is always willing to complete her homework and finishes it with great penmanship and presentation. My favorite moments with Giselle are watching her creativity blossom. Giselle is a fantastic artist and very clever at putting together a thoughtful poem or handmade book. – Stacey Millet, Tutor
Emma (Age 7) My first session with Emma, she was not very talkative and was quite nervous. However, by the end of the session, she warmed up to me and was able to share a small bit about herself. Now, months later, Emma’s confidence has grown so much. She loves to ask questions and has a great amount of curiosity for learning! It has been a tremendous joy to spend time with her and watch her develop her reading, writing and language skills. Each day we end our sessions with playing games or reading a fun book.Her favorite activity is to look at pictures of my dog. It has been a joy getting to know this thoughtful and kind girl and her family. I even attended her birthday party, which was very special.
– Stacey Millet, Tutor
Tamya (6th Grade) Tamya has been with our program for over 2 years. While she used to cry and refuse tutoring, she eventually began volunteering and now she loves the opportunity to connect with her 1-on-1 tutor online! It has been a joy to witness growth in Tamya not just in her academics but also in her curiosity and independence. She has developed into a kind and assertive spirit thanks in part to our wonderful Skid Row Learning Instructors, Allison Maldonado and Jason Wright. We only wish Tamya the best as she continues her journey with School on Wheels. Go Tamya!
– Ian Chan, Program Administrator (School on Wheels, Inc.)
Angel (8th Grade) is a highly intelligent student. He almost does not even have to try. He is very perceptive and a high achiever. Angel tries his best to excel in all of his classes. All that work has earned Angel the Mason award. Only 20 students in all of the Garden Grove school district received this honor. This award is contingent on grades and adversity. Considering he has lived through a rough couple of months, Angel still finds a way to get his homework done and be an active participant in his classes. Angel hopes to join the Air Force after high school.
Not only does Angel excel in his studies, he has a kind heart. There is one example I will never forget. We were sitting next to a disabled woman who was having a hard time navigating the printer. Angel noticed her struggle and was quick to offer her his help. He walked her over to the printer and proceeded to help her access and print her papers. I am very proud to have the opportunity to work with Angel. He is an all-around awesome young man!
– Diana Ly, Tutor