Tag: star volunteers

Apr 21

2021 Volunteer Appreciation Message and Volunteers of the Year

A very special thank you message to ALL OUR AMAZING VOLUNTEERS!

Congratulations to volunteers of the year:

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Nhi Ha

Nhi is the silver lining of the cloud for her students. She is humble, kind, polite, compassionate, and incredibly intelligent. All her students look up to her and many have mentioned they do not want any other tutor. The grace, fun, innovation, creativity and substance Nhi brings to a tutoring session is something her students look forward to every week. Nhi has contributed to School on Wheels in every possible way throughout 2020, before and after: as a tutor, mentor, tutor coordinator, and ambassador. 

-Manmeet Sodhi, Volunteer Support Coordinator

I used to tutor through my college to provide free services for peers. One semester, I noticed one student who had difficulty in the class and provided some resources they look into for help. They disclosed to me that they were experiencing homelessness and therefore had limited access to resources since they had to work outside of class to support themselves. After listening to their story, I took it upon myself to pool together any free resources on campus and online that would help the student even after hours. The student started participating more during the lectures and would continuously attend my tutoring sessions afterwards. Seeing them grow instilled in me the resolve to always try to help someone in need. Then one day, they stopped coming. It was only later that I found out this student had dropped out of college altogether because they couldn’t afford to attend. After losing this student, I also came to terms with the fact that I needed to do more. And so, I decided to volunteer with School on Wheels to tutor and better understand how we can reach out to students early on to give them more structured support through an unstable time in their life. I have since treasured my experiences with School On Wheels and all the efforts each person in our organization has made to make a difference.

One of the most rewarding aspects of tutoring for me has been the moment a student finds something that excites them or they enjoy. For example, a recent student of mine had been a bit distant because they were unsure of what they wanted to do in life. When the first few sessions going through English or Math didn’t click with them, I started bringing in different subjects such as science and art. They were a bit more interested in art and we bonded over how to draw 3D shapes. It was something that interested them, but it didn’t challenge them. Then I started integrating computer science lessons as puzzles such as using Scratch and the Google Doodle coding game. The moment she hit a wall in the game, she started trying different combinations of answers to try to work through the problem. It was the first time she was so persistent on problem-solving in the sessions and I could tell she liked the challenge. I felt this moment, this shift, in her attitude towards learning something new after having previously been disinterested, was the most rewarding part of tutoring — helping spark the desire to learn and problem solve in a student.

One memorable experience with another one of my students again involved seeing that spark. This student had previously avoided tutoring due to pressure from other children in their group home. It was difficult getting them to be engaged and they would leave without notice sometimes. So when the staff members told me they would make sure the student attended the upcoming session, I knew I had to make it count. I remembered that my student often doodled in his notebook and wanted to listen to music during the sessions. He was very artistic, so I figured we could work on figurative language by creating a rap album. I pulled examples from some of the most popular songs and had him identify similar things in other songs. I then asked him to make his own rap and afterward, he was able to figure out that he naturally incorporated epithets, metaphors, and similes on his own. Then we cooled down by designing the cover art for his album. That was the first time he sat through the entire tutoring session with me, and he kept the album cover and song he wrote. I know that I haven’t significantly changed his situation or his life, but I do think that he found something he cared about and a way to translate it for people to see. I think that was one of the memorable experiences I’ve had with a student.

Manmeet has been an amazing coordinator who will show you the ropes, make sure you are heard, and will always value your input. School on Wheels benefits not only the students and families, but also the staff, volunteers, and you. It has been one of the most fulfilling experiences I’ve ever had. It isn’t easy, for sure, but when you get to the end of the tunnel with a student, you know that you both put in the work to get there together. 

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Chris Ruoff

I decided to nominate Chris because of the effort he has put forth for his student, Karla. In the short time I have worked with Chris, I have seen the impact he has had on his student. She started out failing her courses and is now excelling because of his help. Their match is an inspiration and I wanted to recognize Chris for that hard work. 

-Aeriell Woodhams, Volunteer Support Coordinator

All of my prior volunteer work (20+ years) had involved my kids’ schools or activities (coaching sports, being on the PTO board) and as they got older, I wanted to shift my volunteer work to give back in the community, especially to those in need. My first assignment with School on Wheels (SOW) was in group tutoring at a winter emergency shelter in Santa Ana, which was an interesting way to break in! When the shelter closed, I became a Tutor Coordinator (TC) and helped start up the first SOW after school program in OC at Washington Elementary School. Then, I helped start up tutoring at the new Homeaid Family Care Center in Orange. After that, I helped start the onsite tutoring program at California Lodge Suites, where I shifted to 1:1 tutoring instead of group. That is when I was paired with my current student, Karla, and we have been together ever since. I’m in my 5th year at SOW and I’ve also had the opportunity to record a webinar on group tutoring tips, help deliver advanced trainings for tutors, organize backpack and supply drives, hold first-sessions with tutors, and speak about SOW at corporate events. Everything I have done for SOW over the years has been extremely rewarding!

I’ve been tutoring Karla since she was in 8th grade and math has always been challenging, as it’s not one of her favorite subjects. But we have worked hard on getting this turned around. Karla has a very positive attitude and has moved her grades up, consistently earning A’s and B’s on quizzes and tests!

When I was at Washington Elementary, I had a special student who was nervous about tutoring and we had a very rough start. I worked closely with him over several weeks, won his confidence. Soon he was running from class to after-school tutoring, wanting to be the first one there. When he would solve a problem on his own, we would high five and I would say “Anthony, you got this”. Then he started saying “Mr. Chris, I got this”. It still makes me smile thinking about it.

This is the most rewarding and meaningful time you could spend with a child in need – to be able to help them, be there for them – it’s the best thing you could do!  And, you get to work with and learn from some amazing staff members and volunteers. Please join us!

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Lynn Johnson

Lynn isn’t just an exemplary tutor and a dedicated volunteer, she is a kind and caring person who inspires me with her enthusiasm and willingness to take on any challenge. She advocates for her students, creates a warm and collaborative relationship with the families, and always answers an immediate “yes” whenever I need her assistance. She has been invaluable in our transition to online tutoring and I feel extremely lucky to have her as a School on Wheels volunteer! 

-Chris Walsh, Regional Coordinator

My neighbor, who is a CASA, introduced me to School on Wheels. I had been fully retired from an education career for about a year and there was something definitely missing in my life. I thought by being a part of a student’s life and supporting them in their education just might fill that gap in my life!

I enjoy ALL aspects of tutoring, but especially the one-on-one non-academic time I have with my student. We begin with catching up with what’s been going on in our lives, which includes checking in with our household pets, before we hit the academics! We conclude the session with an art activity. Personalizing the session makes it such a special time for my student and me!

I think the most memorable experience I had was when at the conclusion of a session, my present student had a big smile with bright eyes and asked me….”see you tomorrow?”.  Another, just as memorable, was when my student’s teacher communicated with me that she has seen more confidence in my student since I began working with her.

This is what I share with EVERYONE….this volunteer experience has done as much for me as it does for my student …it’s immeasurable!

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Marlene Brostoff

Marlene carries such immense care and dedication for her students and their family. She is constantly looking for new, innovative ways to engage her students and fosters a safe and caring environment to help her students flourish. She is encouraging and motivating and that has really exemplified through her sessions.

-Maxine Faustino, Volunteer Support Coordinator

After retiring as an elementary school special education teacher at a public school, I wanted to share my skills and experience as a teacher with children who didn’t have all the advantages of the students who I taught at a wealthy school.  When I read about School on Wheels, my heart literally did palpitations. I have been aware of the increase in families who are experiencing homelessness and food insecurity (especially in Los Angeles) and learning about School on Wheels gave me an opportunity to be able to reach out to students in need.  This was just what I was looking for in my retirement. 

The most rewarding aspect of my tutoring has been hearing the joy in the voices of my students as they proudly read new material and seeing a huge smile on their faces.  It’s been great to see them closing the gap in their learning as they acquire new skills. 

A memorable experience was when I’ve said, “OK……we are finished for today…….I’ll see you next week” and my students said, “Oh no……we are done already? Can’t we do a little bit more?”

Another memorable experience is that I was invited to attend my students’ mom’s graduation from a college program.  It meant so much to me to be included in this wonderful event for this family and to know what an incredible role model this mom is for her kids.

I would like anyone who is considering tutoring for School on Wheels to know that as much as you will feel good in knowing you are helping others, your students will touch your life in immeasurable ways.  Back in the days when we were able to see kids in person instead of on Zoom, I volunteered at the Rescue Mission in Reseda.  Whenever I left that environment, I thought about how lucky the kids were to be in a place filled with safety, love, and joy.

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Alexis Chan

Alexis is so dedicated to our students! She goes above and beyond to make sure her student is getting the attention he deserves. In addition to supporting her high school student in applying for our scholarship program, she also coordinated a toy drive for the family shelter she tutored in-person before COVID. Thank you, Alexis, for all that you do at School on Wheels!

-Jesse Pasquan, Volunteer Support Coordinator

I was looking for an opportunity to volunteer and School on Wheels seemed like a great organization in my area. I love when a student asks good questions or when you can see a concept click. Helping my student apply for the School on Wheels Scholarship was fun because we were able to talk about what he wants for his future and he had some great ideas about what to write on his application. Volunteering is an easy and rewarding way to make a difference in a kid’s life and their future!

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Mara Miyashiro

Mara is a hugely dedicated member of the School on Wheels family. She transitioned from in-person to online tutoring when her student Elizabeth moved, way back in 2019. Her experience and expertise with online tutoring allowed her to provide crucial insight to other volunteers when the pandemic started. With her student Elizabeth, Mara makes every session engaging and fun, using a combination of our literacy resources, educational videos, and a virtual motivational “sticker chart.” School on Wheels is lucky to have such a dedicated, creative, and caring volunteer as part of our team.

-Emma Gerch, Digital Learning Specialist

During college, I mentored and tutored high school students struggling with algebra, helping them develop a growth mindset and consider careers in the STEM field. I wanted to continue tutoring students after college and I found the right opportunity through School on Wheels.  When I heard about School on Wheels’ mission to provide tutoring and support to students experiencing homelessness, I knew I wanted to be involved. 

During my time as a tutor, I’ve learned how important consistency, patience, and optimism are when teaching. I’ve really enjoyed the trust and rapport I’ve been able to establish with my student. Being able to be a consistent face and cheerleader for her success has been really special. I enjoy seeing my student’s aha moments when a concept clicks and watching her confidence grow with difficult problems. I’ve also enjoyed being able to encourage her passion for art and space exploration during our free time in sessions. It’s rewarding seeing my student become more motivated and eager to learn. We use a star chart to track her progress each session and with each lesson we complete she earns a star.  My favorite thing is hearing my student brag to her mom about how many stars she’s earned.

I would say if you are considering volunteering, go for it. The support you can give can really make a difference in a child’s life. The bonds you form with a student and their family are invaluable and I couldn’t have asked for a better student or family to be placed with.

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Tolulope Popoola

Tee has consistently dedicated himself to his student and School on Wheels. With 6 years of tutoring experience, he has motivated and guided his students to reach their educational goals. We admire his tenacity, and we’re extremely grateful to call him a School on Wheels tutor.

Carlie Whittaker, Student Support Coordinator

I was inspired to volunteer as a School on Wheels tutor due to my belief that education provides a low-risk, high yield opportunity to be successful regardless of background and past history.

A memorable experience with my student was when he texted me out of the blue that he would like to be a medical doctor. It is remarkably interesting and relevant to note that I am also a medical student but I have always made sure to not directly influence his career path. If anything, I imagined I would have discouraged him as I shared with him some of my academic struggles and the amount of commitment I had devoted to achieving my goals. In fact, we had established that he would not seek a career related to science, technology, and mathematics due to his lack of interest in these subjects even though he academically excelled in them. However, I think he has been highly influenced by the pandemic both from a scientific and health/social disparity aspect as his family was affected. And of course, it is possible that I might have had a tiny bit of influence too!

Working as a volunteer tutor is a great way to leave a positive footprint in the life of a young person. For some students, these tutoring sessions are a rare opportunity to connect with a role model figure and it is quite evident to me that this can have a profound effect on their development, both in academics and their personal lives.

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Rosemary Shinbane

I could not have picked a more well-deserving tutor for the Volunteer of the Year award. Rosemary has gone above and beyond tutoring one-on-one with two siblings. She works with each student twice a week and has formed an incredible bond with both of them. She has faced her fair share of challenges but never gave up, just kept pushing forward. Rosemary continues to make significant academic breakthroughs with her kids and they cannot get enough of her. Both kids just absolutely adore her. It has been such a delight getting to know Rosemary and I am so fortunate to have her volunteering in my region. She has a heart of gold!

-Kristina Rakosh, Regional Coordinator

Once I heard so many of the amazing  stories from current and past students of School on Wheels I knew that I wanted to be a part of this great organization. I have always been grateful for the wonderful education that our children had, and wanted to be a hands on part of making a difference in other children’s learning experiences as well.

I began my journey as a tutor at the Skid Row Learning Center which I truly enjoyed. Once Covid -19 changed all of our lives, I was determined to pivot to one-on-one tutoring, which I discovered was an awesome experience. The most rewarding part of tutoring is getting to know students in a more personal way and to see the pride they have with each new accomplishment.

I work with two children, a sister and brother ages 7 and 5. I think the best memories have been when I am able to connect with them despite doing so from Zoom.  During our sessions, once our “school work” is completed, we dance together and send each other pictures and I love that these meetings bring some fun to our tutoring time!

For those of you who are contemplating becoming a tutor, I would say that despite all of the challenges that will be a part of your experience, that the joy of connecting with your students will impact you in ways you will always treasure. You will make such a difference in their lives!

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Acacia Shyr

Acacia is a highly skilled tutor and is exceptionally dedicated to helping her students become life-long learners. She practices a pedagogy of love and puts in the work to build deep and transformative relationships with her students.  Acacia’s compassion, thoughtfulness, and dedication are absolutely outstanding, and it is my honor to nominate her as a School On Wheels volunteer of the year for the West Los Angeles region. 

-Alex Toutant, Volunteer Support Coordinator

I’ve always been looking for a meaningful volunteering opportunity to be directly involved in an organization’s mission. During my time at UCLA, I discovered that I really enjoy teaching, so I set out to find a way to give back to the education system that gave me so much. When I found School on Wheels online, I was hopeful that it would be what I’ve been looking for. It is nearly impossible to find volunteering where you feel needed, and there isn’t a huge barrier to entry. It has been such a blessing to have been a volunteer tutor for the past 3 years, and I hope I never stop.

The most rewarding aspects of tutoring include the freedom to explore students’ interests, be their strength when they feel weak, offer dependability, and bring them closer to realizing their purpose through education. In school, there’s often little to no time to ask students one-on-one about how they feel about school, what their interests are, and reveal the importance and wonder behind seemingly mundane assignments. 

One of the most memorable experiences I’ve had as a tutor happened a few weeks ago when my student (a 5-year-old) told me that she loved coming to tutoring because it was fun. She has such a sweet spirit, and it made me so happy to hear that I am making a life-long positive impact in her life. In six months, I’ve seen her go from knowing the alphabet to asking if we can learn to spell “friends,” a much more advanced word than her current level. 

My advice to new volunteers would be to listen to your student actively. Outside of tutoring, they may rarely get the impression that what they have to say is important. Love is spelled T-I-M-E. We aren’t regular tutors whose main goals are to reach certain academic markers. We are role models and dependable guides who journey with our students toward loving learning and using it to live out their passions.

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Meng Liev

I nominated Meng as a volunteer of the year for her amazing leadership in working with 2 students and meeting as many times as possible with her students, even up to twice per week. Meng engages students to participate in various School on Wheels programs, competitions, and scholarships. She has been a great advocate helping make sure a Spanish-speaking family gains the correct information and stays engaged. Meng has also helped in communication with tutors who are working with siblings and taken on a leadership role to help the students’ families! 

-Genesis Torres, Volunteer Support Coordinator

I am grateful for my life and want to give back to this country that has taken me and my family in. I volunteered to be a School on Wheels tutor for young children because I love nurturing curious minds.

I was thrilled to learn that my student had studied his division notes that I made him take when he kept saying he doesn’t understand.  He started our tutoring session as the tutor and taught me division from his notes.  He was so proud to show me that he had grasped a difficult concept, and I was happy to see him happy.  

The saying of “the more we give the more we get” rings true for me. The joy of helping a child is priceless.  It’s an exercise in opening our hearts, appreciating the little things in life and growing as a person.  It has been good for my mind, body and soul to know that I can make a difference in positive ways. 

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Phillip Chung

From the day Phillip joined School on Wheels, his passion, and enthusiasm for helping our students really stood out.  Shortly after he was matched with his first student, asked if he could tutor more students (he now tutors four students).  I’ve had the pleasure of watching Phillip tutor and his students adore him, they really look up to him.  Not only do his students adore him, but the parents of his students really appreciate him and feel like he’s a part of their family.  In addition to tutoring, Phillip has been incredibly active in other ways, including creating a Volunteer Peer group for which tutors in the IE come together, meet, exchange ideas and support one another.  Phillip is always looking for ways to enhance what he does with his students as well as ways to make a deeper impact overall with School on Wheels.  Phillip is one of the kindest human beings I know with a heart of gold.  His passion for his students, their parents and the community is huge.  I’m incredibly grateful for Phillip. He deserves this distinction so very much.

-Stephanie Swenseid, Volunteer Support Coordinator

I often met homeless families through volunteering at a food pantry and always wished there was more I can do more for them, especially the children. I was raised with a strong emphasis on education, so I believed it was my duty to leverage this background in helping displaced students reach their highest potentials. School on Wheels sounded like the perfect opportunity to pursue this interest of mine.

Being able to be a long-term resource for students has been the most rewarding aspect. Not only do I get to see my students grow both academically and emotionally over time, but I can also support them on both their good and bad days. Through all of this, I have the opportunity to grow alongside my students.

One fond memory was when Eliana, a 3rd grade student, asked me to keep being her tutor when her family found permanent housing and transitioned out of School on Wheels’ services. It meant so much that she enjoyed our sessions as much as I did, and it was a stark reminder of our tangible impact on our students.

If you are considering being a volunteer tutor, do it! It has been such a life-changing experience. You do not need any teaching experience—just the passion and desire to serve our youth—and will have the chance to grow alongside your student.

Aug 7

Tutors of the Month – August 2018

Region 10 – South Orange County:

Mathew – To go to the summer camp and share some of our knowledge of the biomedical, engineering, health, and coding fields was a rewarding experience: it put smiles on the kids’ faces, it put smiles on our faces, and overall, kids had a good time doing our hands-on projects. It was amazingly exciting to see our students start to discover new passions and interests while experiencing STEM as a whole.

Ashley – Each day we did a different activity that related to engineering, biomed, health, or coding. Many of the students learned things that they had never seen at school before, including Scratch and K’nex.

Michael – I could already tell that the organization required dedication and and passion. I soon realized the power of teamwork and the possibilities that could arise from the combined goodwill of multiple volunteers.

Jason – There was no doubt that the curriculum — which consisted of engineering, biomed, health, and coding — was exceptional, however, what made this program so successful and the experience worthwhile were the irreplaceable connections made during the course of the three weeks. Given the thier harsh lifestyles, it is not fanatical to presume that education is not their first priority, therefore, such intimate connections between the tutor and the students may be more impactful to the children’s lives than any lecture. I hope that we have comparably influenced the children.

 

Region 1 – East LA:

Evan Panas – I started tutoring with School on Wheels a little more than 5 years ago when I noticed some free time that could be more productive. I felt SOW offered the best bang for my buck. The greatest part about helping kids is that they’re eager to learn, and information adults take for granted amazes them. They are excited to see you every week. It’s satisfying to provide a little stability in their chaos-ridden lives. Since we do this as a group, I would be remiss to not also thank my fellow tutors Niru Madduri, Alonso Quintero, Brenda Ramirez, and Marisol Sacramento. And a special thanks to Sasana Kachirsky who coordinates at another shelter and is never-ending supply of inspiration. Also, many thanks to our past and present regional coordinators who offer wonderful support to all their tutors: Paula Buxbaum, Marisol Farfan, Daisy Arce, Cecelia Olivas, Louisiana Wermer, and Ian Chan.

 

Online:

Natalie Platon – It’s been lots of fun participating in the Summer Program this year! I’m glad that online tutoring gives me the opportunity to still work with Ethan even though he moved away from Skid Row a few years ago. By using Google Hangouts and our smartphones, we’ve had great discussions about what we’ve read; Ethan is now making more text-to-self, text-to-world, and text-to-text connections and has progressed when it comes to thinking more deeply about the underlying message behind a story. The Summer Program has also motivated him to read more as well, and we’ve read several books so far. Ethan has even gone to the library himself to read more books on his own! I’m very thankful to be able to still connect with and tutor Ethan even though he’s moved several times.

 

Skid Row Learning Center:

Lisa Yu – I began volunteering because I just want to help out a bit. Being homeless is hard enough but being homeless and trying to keep up with school as well?! Wow, now that’s a challenge. I tutor at the Learning Center so I never know what to expect. Sometimes a student needs help with a math problem. Often, he or she just needs encouragement to power through an assignment. There is nothing like seeing the glow of accomplishment on a student’s face after having just persevered and finished. Other times it has nothing to do with school but with just listening empathetically.

What amazes me is the energy that hits me every time I enter the Learning Center. Wow! I just love the unabashed enthusiasm, curiosity and resilience of these students. At times the energy seems to visibly bounce off the walls. Huge kudos to the resident team that keeps everyone focused! Thank you, School on Wheels, for really taking to heart the “no child left behind” credo.

Region 7 – San Fernando Valley:

Michael Weiser – I am happily married for 38 years and have two beautiful and incredible daughters and one grandson who we all adore. I have had a rewarding 40-year career in the entertainment industry, and have reached a point in my life where I decided that because I have been so fortunate, I need to recognize the opportunities I have had by giving back somehow.
While searching sites for non-profit organizations that might be appealing I stumbled across School on Wheels, and it all felt right. And because of School on Wheels, I have had the opportunity to meet 9-year-old Nikoli, who is an amazing, funny, and a very smart young man who has a real desire to learn. Nikoli loves video games and would like to be a video game developer when he is older. I am honored to have this opportunity to spend time with Nikoli every week, and to see the improvement in his math and handwriting skills!!

 

Mar 19

Tutors of the Month – March 2018

Region 3 – Westside:

Aidan Stern – The School On Wheels community is one of untapped potential in the mainstream consciousness. The family I tutor showed me an intelligence, thoughtfulness, creativity, and most importantly, an unparalleled resilience that I find extremely inspiring. If they can show up for the session, I have no excuse not to be there with them. My hope is to be a source of encouragement and motivation to support their educational journey. My favorite moments are in between the tutoring sessions: right before the tutoring starts and the mini breaks we take during the session where I get to better understand the students and their personal philosophies. My goal for each session is to get the kids to celebrate their mistakes and learn from them rather than judge themselves harshly for it; to provide a stress free space of levity where we accept mistakes as part of the process and learn from each other through open discussions.

Online

Sarah Lohmar – Although I have only been an online tutor for a little less than a year, I have quickly learned to love working with the students and getting them excited about learning. What is great about School on Wheels is that it focuses not only on education, but on inspiring confidence in students. I have learned that this confidence can be built in many ways, whether it be helping students realize they really do understand the material or by asking about their favorite subjects in school. Thanks to volunteering as a tutor, I get to help my local community and work with amazing, energetic students every week!

 

Yuki Jung – I became an online tutor after hearing about School on Wheels from a co-worker a year ago. I am constantly amazed by the curiosity and resilience of the students. I feel extremely lucky to support them as they overcome the challenge of reading a tricky word or adding two-digit numbers. I also love getting to know what gets them excited, whether it is Godzilla, tic-tac-toe, or spiders. Even though tutoring online has its challenges, I am grateful every week to School on Wheels for the opportunity to work with my students.

 

Feb 6

Tutors of the Month – February 2018

Online:

Aidan Stern – I see the impact that we School on Wheels tutors have on the lives of homeless students. Through online tutoring, I have been able to interact with students far beyond where I live, and I can fit tutoring time in spaces that would be impossible with regular school, work and commuting. These past few months I have watched my students gradually grow in their skills of complex arithmetic and grammar concepts. It has been very rewarding to see one of my students, Savanna, progress in multiplication. After just a few online sessions, we have progressed from two-digit multiplication to more complex compound multiplication. In-between her math homework questions, we take mini-breaks and play tic-tac-toe or do a maze. Getting to know my students has profoundly shown me the impact we all have on our students’ lives.

 

Sarah Lohmar – Although I have only been an online tutor for a little less than a year, I have quickly learned to love working with the students and getting them excited about learning. What is great about School on Wheels is that it focuses not only on education, but on inspiring confidence in students. I have learned that this confidence can be built in many ways, whether it be helping students realize they really do understand the material or by asking about their favorite subjects in school. Thanks to volunteering as a tutor, I get to help my local community and work with amazing, energetic students every week!

 

Region 5 – Hollywood, Silverlake, Pasadena:

Jonathan Garcia – My experience with School on Wheels over the past 2 1/2 years has been nothing short of amazing. I’ve been lucky enough to work with a handful of diverse students over this time, and although some days may be more productive than others, the breakthroughs we are able to accomplish more than make up for the struggles along our journey. I’ve been blessed enough to travel the world multiple times for a career that has been my dream since I was a teen, but in all honesty, the fulfillment and joy that I have cultivated from making a difference in these kids’ lives is far beyond what I could have expected. So much so, that it has led me to contemplate spending even more of my time giving back and helping strengthen the future of these kids that so desperately need it.

 

Alexandra Bendheim – I began tutoring with School on Wheels two years ago, after just graduating from college and at a time in my life where I felt particularly out of control. I wasn’t sure where my path would lead me, and for the first time, I felt out of my comfort zone. A colleague told me about this wonderful organization and thought volunteering would help to put things into perspective for me. She was right. I signed up to tutor the next day, and within the moment of meeting my very first student, Donald, my entire life changed.

Donald taught me about the challenges and trauma that kids in his position face every single day. He was a survivor, who had big dreams of playing professional basketball, and he was a poet (though he didn’t know it yet). Unfortunately, he left soon after. He will face tremendous hardships because there is a total lack of institutional support for kids like him, but with some guidance and extra attention, I am confident he will rise to his full potential.

After that, I made it my mission to be a mentor for other kids like Donald. As tutors, we get to be a part of a support system that can otherwise be lacking in their lives. Just showing up each week, we remind them that people care, and they can succeed. So I am grateful to School on Wheels, and to everyone committed to this mission, because every little ounce of positivity and kindness helps to spread the love and change the world.

 

Skid Row Learning Center:

Carla Gentile – I tutor because I believe education is the backbone of each child’s future. Many parents and guardians in skid row are facing incredible challenges daily just trying to provide basic needs for their children. To know that I am providing a tiny bit of support to these families in order to help them reach a more holistic life brings me joy and humility. I work with the young children ages 5-7. Helping them learn the alphabet, complete basic math and reading assignments alone can be a challenge. When we complete an assignment, we all feel happy and enjoy the accomplishment together! But there’s so much more to it: listening to the kids and helping them navigate their emotions, helping them stay focused and giving them attention that they might not get at school are a big part of tutoring for me. Being able to serve this community by helping a child to build their confidence and self-esteem is why I am here. The fact that we have so much fun doing this is just an extra benefit for me.

 

Region 4 – Long Beach, South Bay Cities:

Cathy Anderson – Cathy is a wonderful addition to the SOW volunteer team. She is always excited to tutor with her student Ariana and she loves to come up with different ways to make tutoring exciting and fun for her student. Cathy has a tremendous passion and love for tutoring. I am so lucky to have her tutoring in my region!

Nov 2

Tutors of the Month – November 2017

Skid Row Learning Center:

Eric Sarabia – Mr.Eric is a great tutor and he is nice and also helpful. He is funny and he helps me with my homework when I need help with it. He helps me when I am writing a story. Mr.Eric helps me with multiplication and he plays card games with me. Mr.Eric should be tutor of the month because he is a good tutor.

– Aisha, 3rd Grade

 

Region 6: Inland Empire

Gabriela NunezI joined School on Wheels as part of my college internship, but once my internship was over, I didn’t want to leave. Volunteering has made me expand my horizons through different tasks I’ve been able to accomplish. I feel like I’m actually giving back to my community by helping these children thrive in their education. As an educator, I strongly believe each child deserves a wholesome education to succeed in life. My student Maile has made me see the world with a different set of eyes. 

 

Region 5 – Hollywood, Silverlake, Pasadena:

Jarred OlsonI feel that we all have an obligation to protect and empower the most vulnerable people in our communities. I was shocked to read about the prevalence of homelessness among children in Los Angeles and felt pulled to help in some way. Volunteering with School on Wheels seemed like an effective way to participate in stopping the poverty cycle that people without a support system often fall into.

 

Online:

Peter Knapp – It’s been a great experience tutoring and I’m thankful for the opportunity to be able to help through the online platform. I’ve been online tutoring since January of this year and have been able to work with a number of different students. It’s a fun and rewarding challenge to figure out different ways to help them understand a concept or, sometimes, just help them smile after a bad day. There are so many negative challenges that homeless students face – it’s gratifying to be able to offer some positive feedback and encouragement.

Region 4 – Long Beach, South Bay Cities:

Amber Monterosso – When I first moved to Long Beach, I was looking to find a volunteer organization to get involved with. When I heard about School on Wheels from a coworker a couple of years ago, I knew it was going to be the perfect fit for me. The perseverance of the students I have worked with is inspiring, and I’m grateful that I have had the opportunity to help foster a love of learning in them.

 

Region 8: Ventura County

Stephen Smith – Tutoring a homeless student has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. It might sound like a cliché, but I honestly think I get more out of the experience than my student. It feels so good to see his big smile and perfect white teeth when he “gets” a concept (or one of my corny jokes), sounds out a word, takes in my compliment or feels proud of himself. To know that I had a part in making this adorable, bright, polite young boy (who is growing up in not the best of circumstances), happy is indescribable. My 16-year-old son recently asked me if it was depressing tutoring a homeless child. I replied – not at all! I explained that I was confident that he would “make it” in life, due to all the people who were taking care of him. He has a loving mother, a good supportive sister, teachers who care and of course School On Wheels to provide their services and programs.

Oct 2

Tutors of the Month – October 2017

Region 2 – South LA:

David Salazar – My first experience in tutoring for School On Wheels was when I met Issa who taught me how important it is to help kids during difficult times in their lives and how we can help so much by just being there. I learned as much from my experience tutoring as Issa learned in being confident in his math and himself.

 

 

Region 2 – South LA:

Pamela WronaI wholeheartedly believe that fostering a love for learning and an appreciation for the power of education early in life is so important for a student’s future success. I became a volunteer because I wanted to help children who didn’t necessarily have that support in their lives. It’s been such a joy to help my student Marie feel more confident in her studies and to see her eyes light up when she “gets” a concept. After one session, she told me “I wish we could do tutoring EVERY day!” Of course, that little comment made my day!


Region 5 – Hollywood, Silverlake, Pasadena:

Marissa High – I started working as a volunteer because I was feeling like I wasn’t making enough of an impact. I wanted to get involved and see direct results, which is why this is such an amazing program. It does not take up tons of my time, but it is an impactful amount of time for my student. I would say my favorite tutoring moments with him have been when he finishes something he’s been struggling with, and he’s excited that he was able to accomplish it. When I see that excitement, it’s an amazing feeling.

Region 10 – South Orange County:

Chris Ruoff – About a year ago I received an email from LinkedIn with volunteer opportunities that matched my profile – and this was one of them. I was first assigned to a winter shelter and spent 6 months there until it closed in April. In May I helped open a Digital Learning Center at a school site, and just last month we started tutoring at a new shelter in Orange. This has been such an incredible journey. I feel such a great sense of purpose in providing support and consistency for our kids.

 

Online:

Jishnu Basu – I am thankful for the opportunity to use my passion for math to help students who need it the most. I’ve tutored multiple students and each one had different strengths and weaknesses, and each one required a change in my teaching style. This is crucial because in one-on-one tutoring, tutors have the advantage of being able to focus and mold their teaching to a specific student, which cannot be done in the classroom. One of the most interesting aspects of being an online tutor is that I learn something new each week, from new techniques to solve a problem to how to work with different personalities.