Mar 18

Volunteers of the Month – March 2024

Feilisha Kutilike

I have been motivated to work with diverse populations since I was in college. As a child of immigrants, I remember teachers in my life that made a positive impact and who left positive, long-lasting impressions. Because I know how much mentors made a huge difference for me, I was motivated to do the same for others.

School on Wheels coordinators are open to communication, and I appreciate their availability, resources, and open dialogue. Having a Volunteer Engagement Coordinator who is so versatile, supportive, and nonjudgmental has helped me to overcome any challenges that have arisen with tutoring. 

My student Adalya re-engages with work better after a little break, so I have found it extremely beneficial to take breaks throughout our tutoring sessions to do things besides schoolwork that interest Adalya. Of course, I benefit from the breaks as well! Working with Adalya has taught me to have more compassion and empathy for myself.

Alex Suhy

I worked with children back in my hometown and wanted to continue while attending college. I found the message of School on Wheels to be very inspiring and decided to join. Knowing that I am helping these children become the best version of themselves inspires me to overcome whatever challenges arise. Working with children and seeing their growth and development is such a rewarding experience and something that I hope to do for the rest of my life.

If this sounds interesting to you, try it out. While it may be difficult to establish a connection with your student at first, it will happen at some point, and when it does the rest becomes easy. Listen to your student; try to understand their needs and interests. Remember, they are trying to learn as much as you are trying to help them learn.

My student (Ivy) has taught me so many things. Most important is her playful and light-hearted attitude, even when faced with difficulties. Just by being herself, she has inspired me to view life in much the same way.

Noah Guillermo

I heard about School on Wheels from a friend and thought it would be a great opportunity for me to tutor those who need it most. I benefited from private tutoring experience, and I love teaching others and learning, so it’s a great fit. 

When I first started tutoring, I think I was too focused on trying to make my tutoring sessions like another hour at school. Over time, I noticed that my student improved more quickly when I made our sessions more like a check-in for the week, asking how they are doing and making sure to reserve some time to do something fun. It takes some time to adapt to your student’s learning style, so keep trying and I’m sure you’ll do great! 🙂

My student always shares fun facts with me that make me smile whenever I think about them. Knowing that I’m making a difference in a young person’s life reminds me of all of the support I received in my own academic pursuits. An hour a week feels so short, but I know that it makes a powerful impact. 

Steven Cox

I enjoy doing volunteer work with children and have always believed that education is the great equalizer. I learned about School on Wheels and it turned out to be a perfect fit.

As I suspect is true with all tutors, I get frustrated. But I try to always remember the context of why we’re spending time together, remember to embrace the whole child and not focus so narrowly on academics. When your student is not in the right state of mind to focus on math or reading, there are always opportunities to build confidence or share perspectives on important life decisions and values. 

My biggest takeaway from this experience is gratitude. My student thanks me at the end of every session, but the truth is, I should be thanking him!

Alexa Glick

I was inspired to work as a volunteer at School on Wheels because I believe the organization offers tangible, community-oriented, and well-established support for children and families in need. After working in a hospital, I wanted to continue to give back to this incredible community. It is extremely rewarding to offer mentorship and pay forward the assistance I had growing up through education and career guidance. 

I remember my surprise and the pride I felt when during a group tutoring session, my student taught multiplication skills to one of the other students after learning the techniques only the previous session. Her ability to process information and relay to another colleague was a wonderful step for her and demonstrated her true understanding of the concept! 

I have learned that there is untapped strength in us all. I have also learned the importance of connection over statistics and checking boxes. Tutoring a student experiencing homelessness can feel overwhelming at times — like there is nothing you can do to help because you are so removed from their reality — and while this may be true, it does not mean that your presence, attention, and care does not go unappreciated or unnoticed. Offering a steady and trustworthy partnership with your student will mean the world to both you and them.