Tag: star tutors 2019

Nov 6

Volunteers of the Month – Nov. 2019

Christina Schoellkopf

Region 4

Christina is a dedicated tutor! She tutors one-on-one at the same time and place as several other School On Wheels tutors. I have received a lot of feedback about her from those other tutors and it is all incredibly positive. She does a great job and has made such an impact with her student.

Kristina Rakosh, Coordinator

As a journalist, I had been overwhelmed by the hate and misconduct I had been reporting. When the #MeToo movement reached a tipping point in 2018, I realized I couldn’t control how other people treated members of their community. But I felt compelled to do more to add goodness to mine. So, I started researching ways I could give back and help people. I think what’s special about School on Wheels is that we are more than tutors, we have the power to be advocates.

For example, I learned that my student DeAndre wanted to earn his driver’s license, but didn’t know where to start. I contacted his social worker and asked how he could start this process and if there was a way I could help, and when I relayed back to DeAndre about it, he said something like, “Wow, you really care,” and this meant a lot to me! The one hour a week I give of my time brightens my entire week. We may be called tutors, but we do a lot of learning on this end, too.

Shreya Mardia

Region 9

Shreya is an absolute rock star of a tutor! She comes to group tutoring every single week with a huge smile on her face and a passion for the students she works with. She is pure joy and sunshine and the students love working with her.

Rachael Christenson, Coordinator

Initially I was volunteering at my local library to help my community, but I wanted to help out where it was most needed. When I found School on Wheels online, it seemed like a perfect fit, as I had prior experience working as a tutor.

Not long ago, I was working with a very young student who was trying to learn how to write his name. After I helped him learn how to write the letters and he was able to write his name all by himself, he was so excited and proud about this accomplishment. He even turned to another tutor and showed it to them, saying that I had taught him how to write his name correctly. It made me happy that I was able to make such a difference in someone’s life just by spending little of my time every week. I’m truly glad that I was able to be a part of its wonderful volunteer program. If you are thinking about volunteering, definitely become a volunteer tutor for School on Wheels. It’s only an hour a week and you could change someone’s life for the better!

Eden Ettenger

Region 8

I had a chance to get to know Eden at an Advanced Tutor Training and I was so impressed with her dedication, her enthusiasm and her commitment to her student, Anthony. She followed up that training with a wonderful email asking how she could become more involved and now she is taking on a new program at Transition House as a Tutor Coordinator! We are so lucky to have her in Region 8!

Chris Walsh, Coordinator

I am actually from the same town as Agnes Stevens, the founder of School on Wheels. My mom knew her and I remember doing volunteer events for School on Wheels when I was younger. The organization has stayed in my mind ever since. Homelessness and education are the two social issues that are of most importance to me. I have always loved School on Wheels’ mission and I think it addresses an issue that is too often neglected: the effects homelessness has on one’s educational experience. I feel very lucky to be a part of School on Wheels’ work. Whenever I do science experiments with my student, I love seeing how curious he is to learn more; he is incredibly intelligent, and seeing our work together pull that out of him is a very special experience. For anyone considering becoming a volunteer tutor, I would say definitely do it! It is nothing short of a life-changing experience.

Nivitha Kandula

Online

Nivitha is an incredibly consistent and positive influence on her student. She is always thinking about the best ways to support him.

Emma Gerch, Coordinator

I learned about Schools of Wheels through personal online research. I was interested in trying to be a part of something new and help others even when I may not necessarily be in the same location. I think that knowledge is something that everyone should have, and I wanted to take a small part in spreading it, one step at a time.

It always makes me smile when my student and I compete against each other in games. He’s usually better than me at some of the games, and it makes me laugh when he wins. It’s a very rewarding experience and you can form a bond with your student. You can also learn new things or reinforce topics. There is always a new experience to come and new things to try, so to anyone considering becoming a tutor, I say go for it.

Chris Smith

Region 10

Chris prioritized his student, Jacob, and his success from the second he started his first session. Chris’s positive attitude is infectious, not only for his student, but for his fellow tutors. He has a way of making everyone feel comfortable and welcome and it truly impacts everyone around him. From making sure his student is set up for success to planning additional sessions to helping with extra School on Wheels events, Chris has been so reliable and impactful, and I am so grateful for him!

Katie Philipson, Coordinator

I am grateful to the people who helped me during my early years and found School On Wheels while looking for an opportunity to give back. My student Jacob helps out his mom by getting his younger brother Jaay ready every morning. Jacob and his brother both came to the Halloween party, and it was great to see Jacob in his role as responsible big brother, making sure that his young sibling had fun and stayed in line. It’s so rewarding to give a helping hand to a young person in a difficult situation. It doesn’t take much time and it’s fun.

Oct 1

Volunteers of the Month – Oct. 2019

Rahul Kamalapurkar

Region 5

Rahul is constantly in good spirits at a fast-paced Digital Learning Center. He is invested in each of the students’ learning, and is always looking for ways to help out & make new tutors feel welcome. Rahul is very smart & happy to pass his math skills along to any student who wants to learn. He has been tutoring since January of 2019.

Jesse Pasquan, Coordinator

I was tutored growing up and had previously been a mentor for the foster care system. When I moved to LA I did a Google search for tutoring programs for underserved/underprivileged kids and found School On Wheels. A lucky find! I grew up with parents who had very high standards for me, but we were in a small town with a low-quality education system. I’ve seen how much of a difference educational support can make, and I wanted to be part of that effort.

The kids’ high energy is refreshing every week—so many of the students are really motivated and have a great sense of humor. In one of my first tutoring sessions, a Kindergarten student and I were reading together and making howling noises as the dog in the story howled at the moon. I still chuckle when I think about that day. I think my favorite moments are when a student is working on a tough problem (especially in math, my favorite) and sticks with it until he/she figures out the logic. I’ve truly felt like every session has been rewarding for me. So many of the kids want to be great students and just need someone to help them get over barriers; it’s amazing to be part of that journey.

Ann Buckley

Region 10

Ann has been tutoring James for over three years and has gone above and beyond to make sure he has consistency in his life. When I saw Ann with James it was clear how close they were and how much they trusted each other. Ann told me all about how wonderful James was and I could see how proud that made James feel. They have met anywhere that they are able to and Ann has really gone above and beyond to maintain that connection.

Katie Philipson, Coordinator

I found School on Wheels when I had just retired and was wanting to give back. It has been a very rewarding experience, and can also be great fun. I always encourage people to become a volunteer tutor. One hour of our time can be so precious for these children. The hour I spend with my student is definitely a highlight of my week. When my student James won the “Character Counts” award last school year, he was so proud. There are simply no words to describe how I feel… it’s so gratifying and fulfilling to know that I can have an impact on my student’s day, week, and even life.

Bernadette Baclig

Region 9

Bernadette has been such an amazing tutor at HIS House! She has been there since day one of group tutoring when we started in May of 2018 and has been a rock of support for the kids there. They love Ms. B!

Rachael Christenson, Coordinator

I first realized my love for working with students while volunteering at my kids’ elementary school. I love showing them that learning can be fun and providing them with useful skills to overcome any learning obstacles they might encounter.

I remember one student last year in our group session. Whenever he came in for tutoring, he looked like he didn’t want to be there and would always ask to play online games that were not educational. His family moved to another location, but within a month or so he was back… and very excited to be there! My Regional Coordinator informed me that he specifically asked to attend our group session, even though his family was now in another location. So even though at times it might feel like we are not getting through, something amazing is happening.

For anyone thinking of volunteering, I’d say don’t hesitate to do it. Think about all the students who are hungry for knowledge and just need someone to be there as their mentor, cheerleader, and teacher. School on Wheels makes it easy to volunteer, from their training to their support team.

Aug 29

Volunteers of the Month – Sept. 2019

Elaine Gonzales

Region 6

Elaine is an incredibly dedicated tutor who has been working with Colin for a year now. When Elaine initially began tutoring Colin, he was very withdrawn, wouldn’t talk much, and was very resistant to learning math. Through consistent tutoring sessions, care, and kindness, Elaine has been able to help bring Colin out of his shell and begin working on his academics.

Stephanie Swenseid, Coordinator

I wanted to work with children and I was pleasantly surprised when I found School on Wheels on the Internet. I wanted to help children who needed help and could not afford a private tutor. Seeing my student show up for his tutoring sessions with a smile always makes me smile too, confirming that volunteering is not only helping the students but helping me be happier as well. If you choose to volunteer as a tutor, you could be providing a positive difference in a young person’s life that will last a lifetime, one that, given the circumstances, that they might not otherwise have had.

Raquel Abreu

Region 3

Raquel has tutored with us for six years! She has worked with many students and has greatly impacted each and every one of them.

Cecilia Olivas, Coordinator

I was thrilled when my student shared with me that he won a mathematics award at school. He recognized how helpful our math sessions were and he said regarding maths: “I finally get it now!!!”

I do always encourage people to become a volunteer tutor. I just tell them how one hour of our time can be so precious for these children. That hour with my student is definitely a highlight of my week. There are no words to describe how I feel… it’s so gratifying and fulfilling to know that I can have an impact on my student’s day, week, or even life

Abheerava “Ganesh” Koka

Region 8

Ganesh is an amazing young man who is dedicated to School on Wheels and to his student. He was inspired by his grandfather to become a volunteer and to give back to his community and he is dedicating this award in memory of his grandfather. Ganesh has put countless hours into preparing for tutoring each week. He believes strongly in the mission and has devoted time to creating a proposal for a School on Wheels Club at his high school.

Chris Hague, Coordinator

At the beginning of my 8th grade, I really wanted to volunteer and give back to my community. I wanted to help the underprivileged, and do something that will make an impact. I researched online for a while and finally found School on Wheels. Every time I think about underprivileged children, I think that if I were in their position, I would want the same help in order to succeed. When I first started tutoring, my 4th-grade student told me she was being teased for not being able to solve a math problem in class. After the first few weeks of tutoring, she told me she was able to solve all the problems given in class and that kids even asked her for help! If someone is considering volunteering as a tutor, I would tell them that they should try to put themselves in their student’s position and be willing to help them as much as possible. Remember that the student you are tutoring is underprivileged and does not have access to most of the resources we take for granted.

Jordan Maranto

Region 11

Jordan is consistent, engages with every student she assists, and is ALWAYS bright! She’s a light to the students she serves and the volunteers who serve with her.

Jason Wright, SRLC Instructor

I was looking into volunteer organizations that aided the homeless, and I found School on Wheels online almost immediately. It was the perfect fit! In May of 2018 I moved to downtown Los Angeles. Even though I had been living in LA for a while and was aware of how large the homeless population was, I didn’t fully understand how bad things were until I started walking to work and passed by many familiar faces on the streets throughout my day. I work at a restaurant, and it was a pretty unsettling contrast, serving high powered executives with gorgeous office buildings, surrounded by luxury apartments, then walking home and passing by countless people who were begging for change to afford their next meal. I’m a huge believer in the motto, “None of us are well until we’re all well.” I believe it applies to the homelessness crisis perfectly.

These students can be so inspiring. I once had a sweet third grader ask me to proofread her essay. The topic was the future she saw for herself. Not only was it incredibly optimistic, well thought out, and full of self-confidence, but it ended with the sentence, “Thank you very much for reading this essay!” For me, it was definitely one of those “laughing through tears” situations. This girl faced more adversity than I could even imagine, yet walks through life with such a positive outlook and unrelenting gratitude. How can you not feel hopeful after that?

Jul 26

Tutors of the Month – August 2019

Diana Peterson

Online/Region 11

Diana is a very engaging and committed online tutor. She always comes up with creative ways to reach our students. She’s also very communicative, consistently reaching out for ideas to help her students and offering suggestions to improve our program.

Emma Gerch, Coordinator

I learned about School on Wheels from a colleague I work with here at Khan Academy, who had also learned about it from another Khan employee. I was a “reading buddy” at a school nearby for many years and enjoyed it, but recently began feeling that the school had more resources than it used to, and perhaps there were other students more in need. I have huge empathy for kids experiencing homelessness and all the challenges and stress that introduces, and love connecting with kids every week — they bring real joy and also help me live in the moment!

Recently a student I was working with had an assignment to write about Stephanie Kwolek. I’d never heard of her, but together we learned that she was a Chemist at DuPont, and in 1965 invented Kevlar! It was fun to learn about her together, what set her on her career path, and for us to talk about what was most interesting to us about what we’d learned. For anyone considering becoming a volunteer tutor, I would tell them to try it! Just 1 hour 1 day a week, and you could make an impact on a child’s life.

Stephanie Gunawan Piraner

Region 4

Stephanie works so hard to help her student. She goes above & beyond by tutoring multiple days a week, and is very dedicated to her student. Stephanie is caring and compassionate, and works closely with the shelter staff and her student to make sure her student’s learning gaps get smaller & smaller. I am so lucky to have her as a tutor in region 4!

Kristina Rakosh, Coordinator

With a busy work schedule and the regular long hours, we often get caught up in the little things and issues. Volunteering reminds me about the bigger picture of life. My student and I once had several three hour sessions over the course of two weeks to complete her missing assignments, and not once did I hear her complain about having to study for so long after school, and during weekends. I am so proud of her!

I would tell anyone considering volunteering as a tutor that it is a rewarding experience. It will require a lot of patience; a lot of these children have been through difficult times at such young age, so it is important to start your first few sessions with no expectations and to focus on getting to know what drives and interests them.

Casey Hoeschler

Region 5

I nominated Casey because of her professionalism and proactive attitude toward tutoring. She is clear & communicative and took initiative in planning a group field trip to the aquarium with her student. Casey’s passion for volunteering shows in the care the she puts into her tutoring sessions!

Jesse Pasquan, Coordinator

I used to volunteer tutor independently at Richstone Center but had to stop as I moved too far away; my mom sent me a write up on SOW and I immediately signed up! Education is the key to empowerment, and children experiencing homelessness need that more than anyone. During our first session, my student looked at every question on her homework and said “I don’t know this.” Last week, she finished a worksheet without hesitation and said, “I’m super smart!” You don’t have to know everything about a subject to be a good tutor! As long as you’re curious and eager, your one-on-one attention can be so meaningful to a student.

Nima Kharrazi

Region 7

Nima is an amazing volunteer that does so much for the students he works with. We really appreciate everything he does!

Danny Rico, Coordinator

Back in February 2014 I was going to have my 1st tutoring session and didn’t know what my student looked like. She didn’t know what I looked like either, and while I was waiting a girl walked up and commented on my Marvel shirt. We chatted for about 5 minutes — who my favorite is, who hers is, and so on — until she asked, “Can YOU be my tutor?” I apologized and said I was already assigned and was just waiting for my student, Samantha. She smiled really big and said, “That’s ME!”

Volunteering as a tutor will change your life. It will also give you the opportunity to help people in ways you never imagined. Just giving someone consistency and time and attention makes such a difference. It’s easily one of the best things I’ve ever done.

Frankie Olvera

Region 1

Frankie Olvera is a great tutor and is adored by his students. He has a magnetic and a compassionate personality that makes him very popular among his students. He is also thoroughly organised and prepared for every session.

Manmeet Sodhi, Coordinator

I’ve been teaching voluntarily since my early 20’s in places from Juvenile Hall to Men’s shelters, and have concluded that education is the best way to combat homelessness. If you have had the opportunity to get a solid education, then pay it forward: fight homelessness, and educate our youth. Join School on Wheels!

Gavin Sweeney

Region 9

Gavin has been an outstanding tutor! He is absolutely amazing with his student Martin and Martin’s mom cannot seem to say enough nice things about him.

Rachael Christenson, Coordinator

I began volunteering at a time when I felt overwhelmed by my understanding of social inequality. I have found that tutoring with School on Wheels is a real, tangible thing I can do to be a force for change in my community.

Pamela Miller-Shults

Region 6

Pam has demonstrated a willingness to work hard at being the best tutor she can be for her student. She is always looking for new ways to engage and help her student overcome her resistance to certain topics. Pam has also demonstrated great care and dedication with her student and being a wonderful role model.

Stephanie Swenseid, Coordinator

I googled volunteer opportunities with children, went to an information night led by Catherine Meeks, and knew wholeheartedly this was exactly what I was looking for. It made me sad that a child could grow up in an environment of homelessness, not feeling safe, not having a roof over their head or food on the table.

Volunteer tutoring is one of the most fulfilling opportunities I’ve ever had. To witness a child learn and gain knowledge week by week creates a very rich bond. When I leave her sessions to head home I feel like all my endorphins are dancing to the music on the radio in my car!

Erin Hughes

Region 10

I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with Erin this year, and I continue to be impressed with her thoughtful attention to the students she tutors. Erin strives to engage the students by creating contextual connections to the their existing academic skill-set, through both academic and enrichment activities. I’m grateful for her support to the students and tutors, as well as her additional role as a marketing and communications ambassador.

Ana Gutierrez, Program Implementation Specialist

I’ve been tutoring students in kindergarten through fifth grade at my current site, Washington Elementary, for two of my four years with School on Wheels. As the program and our resources have grown, so too have the enthusiasm among students and the camaraderie between tutors. Having tutored in both one-on-one and group formats, I believe they are equally capable of fostering a strong sense of educational community, as long as volunteers are consistent and dedicated. My favorite moments during tutoring are when students become energized after persevering through challenging exercises and then ask to tackle even more challenging work. I hope these triumphs of self-motivation demonstrate for them (as they do for me) that education can be an ongoing source of celebration.

Jun 19

Tutors of the Month – June 2019

Melinda Gevorgian

Region 7

I nominated Melinda because I can always count on her to be consistent, dedicated, have a huge smile on her face, and a day brightener for the kids she tutors. I am very lucky to have her in Region 7!

Riley H., Team Leader

I learned about School on Wheels after searching online about different ways to give back to my community. I was already volunteering with the San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission.

I started volunteering because I have been fortunate enough to have had the ease and convenience of having my parents provide me with resources like school supplies and homework help when I needed it. Without the resources they have granted me, I wouldn’t have been successful in all the endeavors I have embarked on up to this point. I realize how lucky I have been throughout my life and wanted to give back to those who have just as much, if not more potential than I, so they, too, can accomplish their goals.

One experience with a student that made me smile was when I was working with a brilliant 11 year old boy as part of the School on Wheels Summer Reading Program. He met me and the other tutors with a lot of resistance in the beginning, but he just needed to be approached little patience and kept accountable. By the end of the program he was reading more pages from his book than we planned for him to read during each week and was able to finish the book with more concentration than I saw in any other student that also participated in the program. I’m glad that I was able to bring out some of the greatness this student has to offer the world.

Manmeet Sodhi

Region 1

Manmeet has a positivity about her that is completely contagious. She has so much passion for tutoring and goes above and beyond for her students. She really embodies everything we strive to do here at School on Wheels!

Riley H., Team Leader

I have always believed that to bring about a change in our society we need to work on our children. Unless we educate them, we cannot bring real changes. Each child deserves to be sculpted by education so they can not just take on the world, but also contribute to make it a better place. My focus, therefore, was on the ones that are unable to get proper education due to their circumstances. That’s why School on Wheels seemed like a perfect place to volunteer.

Tutoring is the most fulfilling experience in life — you get to equip kids with knowledge, love, hope, and wisdom. You are giving them something that can never be taken away from them, no matter what. Also, you don’t need fancy degrees to become a volunteer tutor. All you need is a bit of passion and the internet 🙂

Kai Ferragallo-Hawkins

Region 7

Make sure that the education is at your students pace, not at your own. And don’t forget to have a bit of fun, it can definitely improve the experience for them. It’s far too often that children don’t have the resources to complete an education – the platform they can use to advance themselves in life. School on Wheels is an organization that tries to equalize that difference, and I wanted to be a part of that.

Kai

Joelle Suh

Region 2

I nominated Joelle or her dedication and commitment to her student. As a high school student, she showed an extraordinary maturity and understanding. Her students have grown to trust her and bond with her. She is a dependable and reliable tutor, and a wonderful mentor!

Danait B., Team Leader

I started volunteering, honestly, because I needed to fulfill my requirements for school. I was trying to find something that I’d enjoy doing, and over the past couple years that I’ve been volunteering with School on Wheels, it’s become more than just a requirement. I’ve built a close bond with my student, and it’s been such a privilege to watch her grow and make progress.

If someone was thinking about becoming a volunteer tutor, I’d first say thank you for taking their time and energy to do so. There are no doubt some harder sessions, when the students aren’t focusing and can’t perform their homework as well as usual, but overall, the sessions are so rewarding and well worth the effort.

Andrew Kim

Region 2

I started volunteering because I saw the gap in academic support between different socioeconomic levels within my own high school and I felt that I needed to be part of the solution to ending this gap.

One experience that made me smile was when my student read a whole book with no help from me and I saw how proud of himself he was for completing it.

Andrew

Carla Gentile

Online

Carla is extremely creative in meeting her student where she’s at. She is really good at incorporating her student’s interests to make learning fun and relevant for her. This is especially challenging to do in an online tutoring context. Carla goes above and beyond to connect with her student remotely by mailing her books that they read together.

Emma G., Coordinator

I was looking for a way to contribute to my community when I found School on Wheels. Living downtown you see the devastation on a daily basis due to homelessness. It’s a terrible cycle some people just can’t get out of. I feel that education is the most important thing to help break this cycle. But education comes in so many ways, most importantly to be a critical thinker, a free thinker, to learn to ask questions and have the confidence to stand up for yourself and clearly navigate the challenges they will face in their lives.