Tag: Our Volunteers

Aug 21

Our Tutor is a Superhero!

Nancy, Lyann and Shelene

Lyann’s mom, Shelene, heard about School on Wheels from the shelter they were staying at four years ago, when Lyann was just 8. We caught up with them a couple of weeks ago to find out how they are all doing.

“It’s not just homework that Nancy helps Lyann with, but life,” said Shelene. “She confides in Nancy and tells her what’s going on at school rather than me. She tells Nancy her problems and struggles–and she has a lot. She has been through two different surgeries and struggles with hearing and reading.

Nancy is like family now. She has become a friend/mentor/big sister to Lyann. Sometimes I am so exhausted and busy, and Nancy is my superhero backup! She takes time out of her life to be here every week. She rides her bike in the LA heat to get here, and she goes above and beyond as a tutor. She turns up religiously every week for my child! What can I do to express how thankful I am? As a mom, it makes you feel good to have someone there for your child. Nancy is not a pushover, though; she knows when it’s time to work and when it’s time to play! There are no words to express my gratitude for Nancy. If School on Wheels didn’t exist, we wouldn’t have Nancy in our life. She is the perfect tutor, and I know your other tutors must be just as nice because they are doing this for free, not because they are being told to but because they want to help kids in our community. It takes a village to raise kids, and I want to thank School on Wheels for being there for me and my family.”

Nancy Dobbs Owen is a professional dancer and became a volunteer tutor with School on Wheels in 2013.

“I’m not sure how great a tutor I am. I am really more of a big sister. I turn up every week and make sure to be on time. I think being reliable has been a big help to the family and especially for my student’s mom, Shelene. I love Lyann’s mom. She is active in the kids’ school and has raised four beautiful children who are polite, kind and respectful. I have such huge respect for her. Lyann is going into 6th grade, but she has a number of learning disabilities. She had a stroke/seizure when she was 6, and this left her with partial hearing. She has trouble reading; she sees words upside down and back to front. Her vocabulary is amazing, though, and she uses words like ‘astounding’ and ‘inspirational’! She does get frustrated with school and can give up on herself quickly. That said, she loves math and science and is curious about the world and the way it works. I work with her teachers and let them know that they have backup. I am now Lyann’s emergency contact at school. The whole family is very important to me. They have become my family, my people. I am grounded with Lyann.

I always advocate for School on Wheels and try to get my friends involved, but emphasize that if you’re gonna do it, do it! If you bond with a student, you have to treat your relationship with respect. If you’re not willing to go there, do something else. When you are working with kids, they need someone that does not judge them. They need to know they are safe and that you are there to answer their questions, be their advocate: be truthful, loving, demanding, but always kind.

The day after the 2016 election we had a session. I didn’t know how politically aware Lyann was, and I learned that day that she is very aware of the world and what is going on in it. It was the hardest tutoring session we’ve had. Lyann was upset. Her mom is from Belize, and Lyann didn’t want her mom sent away by THAT MAN. She said he didn’t like people that looked like her, that the country would become meaner, that the ‘girl was smarter.’ She is a very old soul and worries about her family. She wants to protect people and be a good person. She cares. I tried to alleviate her fears, but that was my hardest tutoring session to date.”

 

Aug 1

Tutors of the Month – August 2017

Region 9 – North Orange County:

Diana Ly – Greetings! I have been tutoring with SOW for about 7 months, and I cannot be more grateful to have stumbled upon this great organization! I love having the opportunity to spend my time tutoring and also help build self-esteem. It always amazes me how much I am able to learn about the students and, in turn, learn more about myself. I am truly blessed to be part of School on Wheels! Thank you!

 

 

Region 6 – Inland Empire:

Stephanie SwenseidEducation is something I’ve always been passionate about; in particular, I am interested in helping to remove barriers that prevent children from receiving an education. From the moment I joined SOW, I knew it was the perfect fit for me! The passion and dedication of SOW is incredible. Additionally, they provide me with so many resources that help me be the best tutor I can be. I am proud to be a part of the SOW family. SOW has enriched my life and given me tools to help educate children in need. I am grateful for my experience with SOW and look forward to positively impacting the children we encounter through our work together.

Region 8 – Ventura County:

Stacey Millet, Tutor Coordinator – When I discovered School on Wheels, I was in search of a meaningful volunteer experience, an organization where I could do something small to better society and my local community. I found those things and more with School on Wheels. As a volunteer, I feel part of a great village of other volunteers, staff members and families that inspire me with their tenacity, strong hearts and willingness to use education to help the lives of children. In return, my time volunteering has made me want to give more. Sure, it can be difficult with a full-time schedule and busy life, but seeing the success and change in my students has made it all worth it.

Region 5 – Hollywood, Silverlake, Pasadena:

Theresa Sterling – I’ve been a teacher for over 20 years. I love helping students learn. I also love volunteering. So when I heard about School on Wheels, I thought it would be a perfect fit. SOW is a wonderful organization for so many reasons: the dedicated individuals running the program; the many volunteers; and of course the children and their families. I can only imagine the difficulties and challenges these students experience, so anything we can do to give them confidence and a love of learning is a benefit that can’t be beat.


Online Tutoring:

Kimberly Kutz, Khan Academy – I think the most surprising thing for me in online tutoring has been just how incredibly sweet and eager to learn the kids have been in general. I came in expecting that the students would have a hard time concentrating because they experience so much adversity in their lives, but with very few exceptions the students I’ve worked with have been confident, energetic, and really excited about learning. My favorite part of online tutoring has been seeing kids feel proud about how well they know the material and helping to build their confidence in school and in life. And I love that I can tutor online all the way from Northern California!

Skid Row Learning Center:

AmeriCorps VISTAs – This summer, the Learning Center is honored to have three amazing AmeriCorps members helping with big projects. We welcome Colleen Guzman, Jose Mendoza, and Adriana Toranzo-Rivero. They are excelling at improving our coding and virtual reality curriculum, designing and finding new worksheets for our Academic Program, organizing all games and activities by standard for easier access, and recruiting for volunteers and partnerships through local business outreach. Their impact is immeasurable, and the amount of students they help will make the future better for all!

Region 3 – Westside:

Armin Szatmary – I have been volunteering for 18 years and heard about School on Wheels through the social justice program at my Temple and through another tutor. I believe getting an education is a really big deal and feel strongly that children should get the best education they can. After working as a court-appointed special advocate (CASA) for many years, I know how hard it is for kids that move around and don’t get the education that they deserve. I really enjoy my time tutoring with my student, Mickey, and he is a really nice kid and fun to be with. I enjoy our hour together.

Armin always puts so much time and thought into his sessions and comes with a folder of activities and worksheets for him and Mickey to work with. He is a thoughtful teacher, and I can tell he truly cares about education and helping his students. Armin goes above and beyond as a tutor, always participating in School on Wheels events and doing whatever he can to figure out ways to engage Mickey in tutoring sessions, and we feel really lucky to have him as a tutor!

Apr 30

We Appreciate Our Volunteers

April is National Volunteer Appreciation Month and every year School on Wheels hosts appreciation events throughout Southern California.  We invite our volunteer tutors and staff and get together to celebrate. It is a great opportunity for volunteers to meet each other and share stories about our students and their successes. School on Wheels volunteers are the best! They dedicate their time to tutoring homeless students and ask nothing in return. During these annual appreciation events, each Regional Coordinator awards volunteers who spend 100 or more hours volunteering with a Presidential Volunteer Service Award.  This year we awarded 250 volunteers with this prestigious award.  To see the full list of volunteers you can click here.

Above are photos from events hosted in Ventura, Los Angeles, Long Beach and Inland Empire.

School on Wheels is always in need of volunteers ages 12 and older that want to make a positive difference in the life of a homeless student. We work with school age children that are living in temporary or homeless situations and provide them with one-on-one tutoring, backpacks, school supplies and all the tools they need to succeed in school. If you have one hour a week or more to spare and would like to join our amazing volunteer team please consider applying to become a volunteer tutor with our organization today! You can go to our volunteer page here to find out more and apply.

Apr 28

Former Teacher Becomes Volunteer Tutor

Chris Kuritzkes is a pre-K teacher and recently moved to California from Philadelphia. She read a flyer about School on Wheels and was intrigued to find out more. She trained as a tutor and was recently matched with Giselle (10). Chris says that Giselle is a very hard worker and enjoys learning. Since Giselle loves to learn, she is excited to review and further explore the concepts she is learning about in the classroom.
Chris said that she was completely humbled by the outpouring of resources and the positive impacts School on Wheels has on its students and families. “I am honored to be a tutor with a program that offers hope and makes a difference in the lives of so many.”

If you would like to make a difference like Chris, click below!