Aug 30

Volunteers of the Month – August 2023

August 30, 2023

William Yaworski

William goes above and beyond to make his students feel seen and understood. Both his students have grown to trust and bond with him. William is a fantastic tutor and mentor.

– Manmeet Sodhi, Regiional Manager

What inspired me to begin working with School on Wheels was coming from a very similar background as the students, Having comparable experience has allowed me to better identify with them.

It is so rewarding to witness the progress of the students and watch their excitement when they experience the same. The most memorable experience I have had with my students was attending the California Science Center with Malkai, Makah, Mikah and their mother for Makah’s 9th birthday. It was fun and exciting seeing them get to experience the infrared camera, the animal exhibit, the aquarium and other areas. Seeing how happy Makah was one of the most rewarding experiences of my entire life.

If you are thinking about volunteering as a tutor, I would say go for it! It is a rewarding experience where you can make a positive impact on someone’s education and growth. Remember to be patient, adaptable to different learning styles, and open to learning from your students as well. Your efforts can truly make a difference in someone’s life.

Nora Flynn

Nora is a kind, passionate, and very patient tutor. She is committed to her students and is always ready to help! If Nora does not hear from her student’s family, she never takes it personally, and, instead, she wonders if they are ok. She helps look for activities to use during sessions. Nora does it all with a contagious smile and a generous spirit.

– Lara Akl, Associate Volunteer Engagement Coordinator

Several years ago, I worked at a science museum and would regularly do science demonstrations and activities for the kids visiting. When I started graduate school, I stopped working at the museum. As part of my role as a graduate student, I still teach college students regularly, but I missed being involved in youth education and science outreach. I was inspired to volunteer at School on Wheels to be more engaged with my community while getting involved again in helping kids understand new and challenging ideas.

As a tutor, it’s great to see when students are struggling with a new concept, but after practice and hard work, something finally just clicks! It’s rewarding to see a student move from uncertainty to confidence that they can think through the question and find an answer on their own.

My student and I both really enjoy doing art! Just recently we drew some sketches to think about why art is important to us and how art makes us feel. It was really interesting to see why Melody loves art and to learn about how it helps her think and relax. We also took some time to draw some of our favorite things and learn about why those things are our favorites. Melody especially enjoys drawing nature and I look forward to seeing her new drawings in future sessions!

Tutoring is a fantastic way to connect with your community. I’m grateful that I can serve as a mentor and a resource for my student. My student also gives back to me. When I meet with them, my day is always improved and I leave with a smile on my face. I would encourage anyone who enjoys teaching or mentorship to become a tutor for School on Wheels.

Chris Clautice

I nominated Chris because of his dedication to his student. Knowing he was behind in academics, Chris graciously agreed to tutor him 3 times a week during the summer to get him ready for the 2nd grade.

– Cynthia Gonzalez, Associate Volunteer Engagement Coordinator

I retired from teaching high school science in 2018, and, in the process of looking for a meaningful volunteer activity, I discovered School On Wheels. I love their mission statement. When you think about it, you realize that the students we serve are the most underserved youth in our society. These kids are far more likely than others to experience academic failure, which leads to economic failure, which leads to societal failure, which leads to running afoul of the law. Simply put, these kids are getting the short end of every stick.

I remember my first student, an 8th grade girl, maybe 13 or 14. It was shocking to me to learn that an 8th grader did not know the multiplication tables. (Over the years of being a SOW volunteer, I have learned that this is not uncommon.) So we worked on her math skills. We also worked on her language skills, because they also needed strengthening. This girl was very often surly and combative, but we did the work. Her mother’s situation changed and we had to part company, but I do recall that, despite all her resistance, her academic skills improved.

To anyone considering becoming a SOW volunteer, I would ask one question: Do you want to help? We have no shortage of students who need help; we are surrounded by youth who are destined for failure, and only through direct intervention can we alter that path. So…Do you want to be part of this?