Ryleigh (Grade 5) I enjoy learning things that I don’t know. I enjoy doing art projects, especially drawing and painting and lots of color. I have worked hard on learning fractions and multiplication. I would like people to know that I am very capable when it comes to doing schoolwork. When my little sister starts school, I will tell her to pay attention so she will know what to do.
Diego (1st Grade) is a very intelligent young man with a wicked sense of humor. When it comes to schoolwork, he is particularly gifted at math – and takes pride in solving sums as quickly as he can. A lack of confidence in his own reading ability has sometimes slowed him down, and so we’ve spent a large amount of time reading together. As a consequence, over the past year I’ve watched Diego’s reading skills grow exponentially and his level of interest in reading books has also surged – which has been a real delight to see. – Chris Webster, Tutor
Charlie (9th Grade) Tutor: “Why do you like this t-shirt?” Charlie: “I love pugs; pugs are too cool for school”
But Charlie isn’t. When we first started tutoring together, Charlie did not like school one bit. His grades were not good and he hated homework. It was a huge struggle to get him to focus on any school work at all. He was failing most subjects.
It wasn’t easy but Charlie, to his credit, and despite many struggles in his life, kept coming to tutoring every week. Now, we read books together, his homework is always complete, and his grades are significantly improved. In fact, his recent grades included an A for science; and, B in math and language arts. It was one of the very few times I saw him genuinely proud of himself. Tutor: “Why is school different for you now? Why are your grades so much better?” Charlie: “Tutoring helps me focus. It makes me want to work harder because you believe I can. I even like to read now!”
Taree is one of 2.5 million homeless children in the USA. They live in shelters, in cars, in shabby old hotels, or on the streets. The children’s families have ended up there for different reasons, but they all dream of a home of their own. “I’ve been homeless since I was nine,” explains Taree. “For a few years we moved around a lot, but now we live at Union Rescue Mission. This place is home to thousands of homeless people who don’t have anywhere else to go.” Taree, his mother, and five brothers and sisters live in one room and share a toilet and shower with others. “The worst bit is probably having to get up at five in the morning when breakfast is served in the dining hall.” Taree’s family live in downtown Los Angeles, in the homeless area. Thousands of people live on the street here. On his walk to school in the morning, he has to pick his way between tents, shopping carts, and sleeping people. But Taree is not afraid.
“The people who live on the streets are kind and helpful towards us children.”
Hardly anybody at school knows where Taree lives. He has only told his very best friend, because many people are prejudiced against homeless people. “The worst thing about being homeless is moving around and changing school so often. I worry about the future a lot, and how I’ll be able to help my family survive. Sometimes it’s hard to stay motivated. But my mother supports all of us. She has helped us grow strong, although things have been tough. Luckily I like school. Math makes me happy!” Taree gets help with his homework from School on Wheels, an initiative started by child rights hero Agnes Stevens, who received the World’s Children’s Honorary Award in 2008. “Without their extra tuition I wouldn’t have done so well at school,” says Taree. “Now I help the younger kids there with their homework! Click here to see the article from Worlds Children’s Prize.
In 2003, Tony was in 5th grade and struggling to learn a new language as well as understand his math homework. His family had moved to the United States from Vietnam.
Tony was matched with a School on Wheels tutor and remembers breaking down one day because of the stress of it all. His family had been evicted, and they were living in their car. He was struggling with school and was feeling overwhelmed. What his School on Wheels tutor said in that moment stayed with Tony and became his mantra: “It’s going to get better. You can get past this. It’s not going to be like this forever.”
Fast-forward to 2017, and Tony is about to graduate from Cal State Fullerton with a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies. His biggest challenge – learning to speak English – became his biggest achievement! With gratitude to School on Wheels, Tony is now training to become a volunteer tutor, wanting to pass on some of the positivity he received when he was 10 years old and homeless.
Philemon (2nd Grade) is an energetic, creative, and hilarious student. He is full of life and loves drawing. In addition, when he gets stuck on a difficult homework problem, he can stop, focus, and solve the problem. Then he does a quick victory dance and goes on with his artistic brilliance. His goofy, upbeat behavior always makes me laugh. Phi has a one-of-a-kind personality and is a delight to tutor. Congratulations Phi on this well-deserved award!
– Nikil Grama, Philemon’s Online Tutor
Ashlyn (1st Grade)
I’ve been tutoring Ashlyn for almost two years and like this butterfly drawing she did for me she’s full of life. Ashlyn is bright, inquisitive and funny. She’s a born problem solver and always goes for sounding out a new word or finding the answer to a new math problem. These are great qualities to have as a student and even greater qualities to have in life. I’m Ashlyn’s tutor but I learn so much from her she could be tutoring me!
– Elizabeth Hartog, Tutor Region 4:
Sean (9th Grade) From the start, Sean has shown a great aptitude for math. Although it is common for some kids to stray from academics, I commend Sean for coming every week with a positive attitude toward the group tutors that work in our area. Though his math is more developed, he comments that his favorite subject is history. Many of our sessions include reading aloud and summarizing historical excerpts. His favorite past times include playing Dragonball Z and watching the Dodgers and Chargers win their games!
– John Park, Tutor
Some of our students got to enjoy yoga at the USC Athletic Department with USC Football Community Service Award Winner, Zach Banner, and Uprising Yoga!
“The experience today was amazing, the kids had a great time doing yoga with Zach. It’s something that our kids don’t have an opportunity to do often, so it was a wonderful experience for them to just be able to kind of just center themselves and visit this beautiful campus and do some yoga.” – Charles Evans, Regional Director at School on Wheels
Diane Lopez – Wanting to do something in the field of education, I would have never thought about tutoring homeless children. Sometimes people forget that homelessness is something that affects everyone, and children are not immune to it. I am so glad that I found School on Wheels because it fills me with such warmth that I cannot explain in words. Seeing my student smiling and growing in her studies keeps me wanting to make sure she gets the best tutoring I can give her.
Region 5 – Hollywood, Silverlake, Pasadena:
Erna Taylor – I had just come out of an 8 1/2 year retail job at a scrapbooking store, and I was looking for something to do. School on Wheels caught my eye as an opportunity to work with children again. I had been a storyteller for many years, so this seemed perfect. I love words and books, and learning is very important to me. I also come from a big family, so working one-on-one with a child has been a great experience for both me and my student.
Region 6 – Inland Empire:
Deborah Myers – Education has always been important to me. Someone once told me, “Never stop learning,” and I took that message to heart. When I came across a notice for School on Wheels, it seemed like a perfect fit for my interests. I chose to work with high school boys in a group foster home. Even though their circumstances present a unique challenge, it’s especially thrilling when I can connect with a student to help expand his knowledge, and through education, help him to build dreams for a future.
Skid Row Learning Center:
Jesse Polen – Every Thursday, you will find Mr. Jesse sitting at Table 1 (a.k.a. Mr. Jesse’s Table). He takes on the tough but fun task of working with three or four 1st and 2nd graders at one time. Throughout this time, he not only helps the students complete homework but assists them in raising their scores. Mr. Jesse makes sure the sessions are fun, yet efficient, and is making a lasting impact on these children!
Justin Helps – Tutoring with School On Wheels is a welcome change of pace after spending the work day in the world of adults. It is the highlight of my week. It is also very rewarding to see the understanding “click” for a student, and this has proven helpful to my work at Khan Academy. I’m honored to be involved with an organization like School On Wheels, which enables me to have this experience and know that the student benefits as well.