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.
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!!