Feb 01

Volunteers of the Month – February 2022

Volunteers of the Month – February 2022

Shawn Oesterreicher

Shawn is such a great role model and terrific tutor! He and his student Pedro have a wonderful connection and Shawn has made a positive impact on Pedro’s life through tutoring. Shawn is energetic, passionate, and encouraging, and goes above and beyond to make learning fun! I am so thrilled that he and his student have such a special bond.

Kristina Rakosh – Regional Coordinator

I had been searching for a way to give back to the community in a fun, productive, and significant way, and signed up the day I discovered School on Wheels. I loved the idea I would be able to build a positive relationship to help and encourage a child to learn. 

I look forward to the weekly tutoring sessions with my student Pedro. Each time I am rewarded with plenty of laughs. Pedro makes learning fun! As a tutor, it’s so rewarding to be able to help with a new concept or give ideas to help the student understand the problem in a different way. When he takes a skill test and passes with 100%, I am so proud of him.

Being a tutor with School on Wheels is very rewarding, and you really do get a chance to make an impact in someone’s life. The ability to encourage, support, and have fun with children who really need something consistent makes being a tutor very meaningful. 

Lydia Cruz-Machlitt

Lydia is an exemplary tutor who has shown flexibility, dedication, and creativity in working with her student, Emily. She has gone above and beyond; first by tutoring in-person and then by working hard to make the switch back to online tutoring. She has tackled technology challenges and works diligently to make her sessions with Emily engaging, fun, and really beneficial. Lydia is a wonderful part of the School on Wheels volunteer team! 

Chris Walsh – Regional Coordinator

I was a teacher for 40 years and still love it. I could easily go and volunteer at a school next to my home but I know School on Wheels needs me more. 

It’s very rewarding when my student Emily “gets it” and lights up with a radiant smile. She is also a sassy girl that makes me laugh. At one session, the power went out; the site had few reliable flashlights so I ended up using my telephone flashlight, but Emily acted as if nothing had happened, and we continued with our tutoring for the full hour. Abraham Lincoln would have been proud!

If you want to tutor you must be patient and understanding; it can be challenging, but don’t give up. The rewards might start small, but the longer you stick with it, the more you will see.

Juliette Lin

Juliette is a fantastic tutor and advocate for her students. She is kind, fun, and creative. Despite the challenges, she encourages and motivates her students to help them flourish. I am grateful to have Juliette on my team.

Manmeet Sodhi – Regional Coordinator

I heard about School on Wheels when I was volunteering at Monday Night Mission and thought it would be a great opportunity to connect with younger individuals in the community and foster a relationship with them. I have always enjoyed teaching others and building genuine connections. 

I love being able to connect with my student on a weekly basis and hear about how her week is going. One of the more memorable moments I’ve had while tutoring my student was when we had been working on Social and Emotional Learning, focusing that week on gratitude, and she told me she was grateful for herself. I was in awe that she was able to feel gratitude toward herself for going through so many hardships and still remaining positive in life. It gave me confidence that she will be able to lead a successful and happy life.

Volunteering at School on Wheels has been such a rewarding experience! I really enjoy connecting with other individuals and learning from them through teaching. I myself have learned a lot about Social and Emotional Learning, how to manage my money, and even learned about trade school through tutoring my student. 

Deepa Radhakrishnan

Deepa is incredibly invested in her student’s growth and enjoyment of learning. As a volunteer, she is extremely communicative and reliable. Her passion for the work is very clear.

Eden Ettenger – Regional Coordinator

In 2019 I felt like something was missing in my life, so I started researching programs that could help me give back that involve education and children. I came across School on Wheels and was incredibly inspired and impressed by the testimonials and the structure with which they operate. I’m from Los Angeles and passionate about my city and the future of its youth, so for me to be able to give back to my community was even more incentive to volunteer. 

I started working with my student right when she finished 1st grade and now she is in 3rd grade. It is such a wonderful experience to see her skills grow and develop with each grade level, particularly each week when we do our lessons. In our short time together, she has moved from reading words and short sentences to reading full chapters and books! 

Becoming a volunteer tutor is truly a rewarding experience and School on Wheels has made it a seamless and fun experience by providing all the right tools and having the right platform, plus fast communication and help from the School on Wheels team whenever it is needed! School on Wheels offers a very manageable time commitment for people with busy schedules. Joining School on Wheels has been one of the best, most fulfilling life decisions I’ve made. It may sound cliche, but there really is no greater feeling than giving back! 

Peter Romagnano

I nominated Peter because of how much he advocates for his students. We sometimes struggle with tech problems on the student end and I can always count on Peter to be patient and offer his expertise to help us navigate those issues. Peter has volunteered in so many ways with us and I so appreciate having him! 

Aeriell Woodhams – Regional Coordinator

I personally have a passion for helping those who are experiencing homelessness, but also really enjoy teaching. School on Wheels is the perfect combination of these causes, allowing me to make a direct and meaningful difference in an individual’s life. I find that with all my students, the most rewarding experiences are when they have that ah-ha! moment. Seeing a student go from struggling to zipping through a problem is such a great feeling.

My most memorable experience tutoring my current student Kyree has to be the time when, in the middle of working on some addition problems, she got disconnected. We work virtually, as many do at the moment, and tried multiple times to link up again, to no avail. Finally after 50 minutes of trying, Kyree was able to join the tutoring session, and with only 5 minutes left in the session, picked right up where she left off. I find Kyree’s commitment admirable and a big part of my ability to be effective as a tutor.

My advice to anyone considering volunteering: Go to schoolonwheels.org and sign up! You won’t regret it.

Drew Jostad 

Drew has had his fair share of technical difficulties and tutoring challenges, but his kindness, empathy, and understanding have never faltered. He provides a safe and exciting learning environment for his students, making sure that he includes activities and sports for them to enjoy in each and every session! 

Maxine Faustino

I found School on Wheels when I was looking for an opportunity to get more involved in the community. I used to work in a tutoring center, and missed working with kids. 

My proudest moments are when my student wants to share his report card with me because he is proud of his progress. One time he brought a Ghostbusters toy that played music, so we were able to dance to the theme song in celebration of his success!

The School on Wheels staff is very supportive; don’t be afraid of being left alone to figure things out. They always address any questions or issues quickly, professionally, and considerately. They even helped get my student a laptop for tutoring.

Farid Holakouee

Farid is very consistent with his tutoring sessions. He engages with his student during sessions, is very patient, and is a great listener. He makes the most out of his sessions and gets a lot of work done. Farid and his student started working together back in June 2020; they are a strong match and have great communication. 

Yesenia Ontiveros – Regional Coordinator

Recognizing that I have been very fortunate, I have always made an effort to volunteer and give my time to individuals who are experiencing hardships. For many years I have felt that individuals experiencing homelessness are neglected by our society and I wanted to do something to help. School on Wheels felt like a perfect match for me because I really enjoy working with kids and teens and felt it would be a great opportunity. I am very grateful to have found the organization and to be able to tutor.

What I have found most rewarding about tutoring is building relationships with students and seeing them make improvements over time. I am inspired by how hard and consistently my student Brandon works, and have seen it pay off. Knowing he is getting close to graduating high school makes me feel so happy and proud of him! During one tutoring session we were having technical difficulties and I could not hear his audio. After trying a few things we decided we would just have to find a way around it, and with a combination of me speaking, his texting, and hand signals, we were able to make it a good session. It actually became kind of fun and we laughed a lot.

Tutoring with School on Wheels has been one of the most consistently rewarding experiences of my life. I have so many great memories and stories working with the kids. I will always be grateful to the School on Wheels organization, their staff, and all the children that I have had the opportunity to work with. It truly has been a blessing in my life.

Gregory Demirjian

Gregory is an incredibly dedicated tutor. He is committed to helping his student Ashley reach her full potential and is working very hard to help her get into college, which would make her the first in her family to do so. Gregory is an incredible mentor, role model and advocate who has earned the full trust of Ashley’s mother as a strong and positive male role model in their lives.

– Stephanie Swenseid, Regional Coordinator

I have been lucky in many ways to get to where I am today and want community outreach and volunteering to be a part of what I do for the rest of my life. Many students have overcome challenges I could never dream of being strong enough to face, and yet they press on. To be a part of their journey, helping them grow into the best version of themselves, is a blessing.

I remember being very proud of my student Ashley early on when she first demonstrated retention and application of new knowledge. We were discussing topics in chemistry that she had not only learned but was able to eloquently converse about with me as we worked together. I know she will continue to be a great student and a successful adult one day.

Working with my student is the highlight of my week. Tutoring with School on Wheels is a humbling and rewarding experience that I encourage everyone to participate in.