Tag: Volunteers

Oct 1

Refer a Friend to School on Wheels and Co-tutor!

Cameron and Anne Tutors of the Month

Anne and Cameron Deguzman, April 2015 Tutors of the Month

Do you enjoy tutoring with School on Wheels but wish you could do it with someone you know? Refer your friends to School on Wheels and consider co-tutoring!

We have many co-tutoring groups that tutor our amazing students each week in various regions. An example of how unique a co-tutoring pair can be is seen in the dynamic duo, Anne and Cameron Deguzman.

Anne and Cameron are a mother and son pair who tutor in the Orange County region. They started tutoring with us in the summer of 2014 and have done an outstanding job ever since. Currently, they are tutoring two brothers who are very close in age. Each week, they discover new ways to work with the boys and keep them engaged. They enjoy co-tutoring because it is a rewarding and fun experience. They enjoy coming together to figure out different answers to problems, and they feel extreme satisfaction once they do. Best of all, they can celebrate together.

Anne has always been an advocate for education, which is something she passed down to her children. Cameron wanted an opportunity to get out of his comfort zone and help those in need around him. Cameron, along with his mother, felt that School on Wheels was the best fit for tutoring in their community.

According to Anne, there are more benefits to co-tutoring than tutoring solo. One of the benefits of co-tutoring from the pair’s perspective is the fact that you can bounce ideas off each other for how to improve the tutoring experience for the students and for yourselves. You can also receive feedback from someone you trust.

You may know someone close to you who you would love to tutor with, and if you refer them to our organization, we can make it happen. The great thing about co-tutoring is that you can pair with just about anyone, whether it’s your best friend, your sibling, or your spouse, and you can tutor at a location that’s best for you. The possibilities are unlimited!

Our Refer a Friend Challenge continues until October 16, which means if you refer your friends or others within the next couple of weeks, you have the chance to win a gift certificate from an area restaurant!

Make sure your friends select “Friend/Word of Mouth” from the “How did you hear about SOW” drop down menu on the application and include your name in the “Other” field.

Here is a link to our recruitment flyer; maybe you have a local coffee shop, a bulletin board at work or a library where you could post it. Take a picture of the flyer and share it with your followers on Instagram or Twitter. Post a link to the School on Wheels application on your Facebook!

We thank you for continuing  to share your time and talent with students in need–and for spreading the word.

Sep 29

Ask A Tutor Tuesday! – 9/29/2015

Question: Dear Ask a Tutor,

I’ve been tutoring a 3rd grade student for about 2 months now. We meet at 6:00pm on Wednesdays. Every session she seems to be really tired, and it’s challenging to get her engaged. I’m not sure what to do, so any help would be appreciated.

Thank you,


In my whole duration of being a tutor at School On Wheels, I’ve often tutored during those same hours or even a bit later. There are a few things you want to keep in mind:

  1. The student may have just come home from school. This can be a tiring ordeal. It was for some of my students, who were still attending their former schools to give them a sense of comfort and normalcy through a tough situation. These schools tended to be further away, and students could only reach school via public transit. Sometimes students might be splitting time between family members or parents, etc. For many reasons, their days–even after school–can be demanding and tiring. Oftentimes, the parents have to take their children everywhere with them, and students run many important and timely errands with their parents. The parents have a lot to worry about as well, and their children have to endure that too.
  2. The student’s meal times are either limited or strictly scheduled. Ever since I’ve noticed this fact, I’ve tried my best to cater to this. If they are in a shelter, most likely the shelter strictly observes when meals are served and other matters concerning food. I make sure that my tutoring hour never coincides with whenever the shelter serves lunch or dinner. I also try to make sure that the student has a break, maybe 30 minutes to relax, before I arrive. I want to give them some time to unwind and eat.

Sometimes, I may bring a snack for my students, but only with the parent’s permission. That usually wakes them up. Nonetheless, I strongly suggest that you politely bring up your concerns with the parent(s) and see if you can work out a new time or day that works for both of you. You can start by saying “S/he looks very tired around this time…Should we change the time/day to _____?” I It’s always good to be a little flexible in those matters and with time. I found that when I made my arrival time a bit later, the student had eaten and had enough time to relax, and they seemed well-energized during our session.

However, if your time is fixed around a busy schedule, maybe think of fun tasks for the student in the beginning to wake them up? You could try talking about something your student finds fun or interesting. If my student is talkative, we usually begin with a chat before work. Good luck, I hope this helped.


About the tutor: Timesia Garcia is a dedicated volunteer, passionate about helping others. She studies sociology at a local community college and has been tutoring with School on Wheels for almost two years.

Have a question for our Ask a Tutor feature?
Email askatutor [at] schoolonwheels.org or use the #AskATutor hashtag on any of our social media sites.

Sep 25

Charles Evans, Regional Director

charlesWhy/When/Where did you start working with volunteers?

Volunteers are the heart and soul of School on Wheels. School on Wheels volunteers work throughout Southern California to remove the barriers that stand between homeless children and their education. Our tutoring program stands at the center of our work: our volunteers come from all backgrounds and professions to teach, mentor, and assist the educational life of a homeless child. Once they have been through their online orientation and our additional training (designed to maximize the impact of their time with the children), volunteers are carefully matched with a homeless child with whom they meet at least once per week. This one-on-one time provides the highest impact of all our work; it constitutes the core of our focus.  Last year, these amazing volunteers provided more than 95,000 hours of focused educational support to 3,129 homeless children. Approximately 300 of these students met their tutors at our Skid Row Learning Center, some 2,800 more had their tutors come to where they live in a service area that, while concentrated in Los Angeles County, spans more than 2,500 square miles.

What do you enjoy most about working with volunteers?

Volunteer tutors are positive role models who provide consistency and educational assistance to a homeless child through weekly one-on-one tutoring. School on Wheels is a volunteer based organization that seeks out committed people who are passionate about social justice and equality for all. A person engaged in volunteering with School on Wheels will benefits from increased self-confidence in their power as an individual to influence change and inspire others. Our volunteers act as a bridge between organizations and the communities that we serve and can inspire change in behavior and attitude in a wider group. They encourage the collective responsibility that enables solid outcomes, such as stability and consistency for the homeless students that we serve.

How has VolunteerMatch helped you to recruit volunteers?

It takes an enormous amount of work to attract, train, manage and retain more than 1,800 tutors and supervise more than 95,000 volunteer hours over the course of a year! Volunteer Match gave us an opportunity to have continuous recruiting of new volunteers throughout Southern California, while allowing us the time to focus our efforts on volunteer management, retention and support.


School on Wheels began in 1993 when Agnes Stevens, a recent retiree who had spent 30 years of her life as a schoolteacher, read a book that changed her life.  The book was about homeless families in the U.S.  Agnes was shocked to learn that hundreds of thousands of children were homeless (a figure that has since surged to 1.6 million) and that many of them did not attend school.  She learned that there were many other barriers that stood between these children and their education and that they needed a wide range of specialized services to remove those barriers – they needed help getting back into school, they needed help in catching up on the subjects they missed, they needed help accessing uniforms and supplies.  Unfortunately, because of their circumstances, homeless children often have no one in their lives who can help them access these services (at a time when a family’s focus is on basic needs like shelter and food, it can be difficult to pay attention to things that don’t seem to ensure survival – like a child’s  education and future).  Agnes began teaching homeless children in a park in Santa Monica, encouraging them to stay in school and keep up with their grades and school activities – and recruiting others to join her.


Sep 22

Yom Kippur – Joyful Thanks

Yom Kippur is the holiest day in the Jewish Calendar. We thought it would be fitting to give special thanks to all our donors, supporters, volunteers, staff, and friends that observe this special day.

Every year we receive thousands of backpacks and school supplies that are sorted and filled by congregations throughout Southern California.  Many temples, day schools and social action committees organize fundraising events for School on Wheels and the homeless children that we serve or offer their time and talents as volunteers for School on Wheels.

This day is the most solemn of the year for Jewish people; yet there is an undertone of joy that suffuses it, a joy that revels in the spirituality of the day. We are so thankful and filled with joy that we can consider the following among our wonderful donors and friends:

Temple Judea
Heschel Day School
Congregation Shir Amir
The Haupt Group
Kehillat Israel Early Childhood Center
Temple Isaiah Preschool
Congregation Tikvat Jacob
Burbank Temple Emanu El
Temple Ramat Zion
Temple Etz Chaim
Temple Beth Hillel
Congregation B’nai B’nai
Temple Isaiah (Golden Sun Kids)
Temple Aliyah
Hehillay Israel (Early Childhood Center)


Sep 22

Ask A Tutor Tuesday! – 9/22/2015

Question: My question is about student behavior and if you frequently come across destructive behavior or behavior that shows students don’t want to be there. How do you deal with that, especially with the older kids?


Hi Jonathan,

Great question. There are definitely times when students, especially older students, might appear uninterested in tutoring. Actual physically destructive behavior is very uncommon. The best thing to do with an unengaged student is to find out what they want to learn. This way, they are helping to lead the tutoring session rather than being just a passive participant. Students who are engaged are also much less likely to act out.

First, simply ask them what they want to learn. My student wanted to learn cursive even though Common Core says no. We worked on it together, and now she has very nice handwriting. She also wanted to learn about elephants, so we wrote to the elephant rescue in Hohenwald, Tennessee. Writing topics can be anything. Think outside the box and bring interesting lessons to your sessions. For example, teach your student to count in Chinese or another language. We all like to feel smart and learn something most people do not know. If your student says everything at school is boring, that is just because they are not getting to the good stuff in the subject. For example, no one ever said ‘foot-binding’ is boring. Take them out of their comfort zone. From foot-binding it is not a far stretch to teach them about the Silk Road. You might also try trivia to set an interesting tone for the session, e.g. ” What very fat American president got stuck in a bathtub in the White House?”

Last, if you would like tips on tutoring older students or students in a group home, School on Wheels has some great resources in their workshops, for example, this one on Tackling Teens. The most important thing you can do is build a bond with your student, no matter their age, so that they trust and respect you from the beginning.

Hope this helped.


About the tutor: Pat Bayha has been tutoring with School on Wheels for over a year, and also tutors at Tuba City Boarding School on the Navajo Reservation. She is a former teacher with the Montebello Unified School District and has many years of experience teaching in inner city high schools, including advanced placement students and bilingual learners.

Have a question for our Ask a Tutor feature?
Email askatutor [at] schoolonwheels.org or use the #AskATutor hashtag on any of our social media sites.

Sep 15

Ask A Tutor Tuesday! – 9/15/2015

Question: I’ve been tutoring since July, and my student recently went back to school. The last two weeks, I’ve been working on homework with her during our sessions. She has a lot, and I’m wondering how I’m supposed to do other activities in addition. How do I find the right balance? She really insists on doing her homework but some of it seems too advanced. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!

—A tutor from Region 2

Hi, tutor from Region 2!

The first couple of weeks of school should include homework that’s mostly review for the student. If she is having trouble completing it on her own, you might think about contacting her teacher. Make sure you get in touch with your regional coordinator to verify that your student’s parent/guardian has signed the form that gives you permission first.

As a classroom teacher myself, I think of homework as a way for students to independently practice what they learned in class, with little or no help. Since she’s having trouble completing it, I would request that her homework be modified to contain fewer problems so that you’ll have time to work on other areas of weakness. Make sure you give her a quick assessment, which you can find here, to find where her gaps may be, or ask her teacher what skills you can work on in addition to homework. As tutors, we are an asset to classroom teachers. Don’t be afraid to reach out and work with teachers to make a plan best for your student.


About the tutor: Jackie Romo has been a School in Wheels tutor for nearly 9 years. Aside from tutoring, she teaches first grade in Rowland Heights and recently earned a Master of Science in reading. She is happy to help in any way she can to make your tutoring sessions successful!

Have a question for our Ask a Tutor feature?
Email askatutor [at] schoolonwheels.org or use the #AskATutor hashtag on any of our social media sites.