Mar 08

Volunteers of the Month – March 2022

Volunteers of the Month – March 2022

Steven & Patty Tiso 

Steve and Patty are amazing; they have a real dedication to their students! Patty has had such a wonderful relationship with her student and her family for a few years and has continued to impact the family in very positive ways. Steven started tutoring online while also helping at in person events, and will be joining his wife in tutoring a second student. Together, they are a powerful asset to School on Wheels and we appreciate them so much!

– Genesis Torres, Regional Coordinator

We believe every child deserves a fair start in school, and that is not happening in this country. Teaching these children and helping them succeed brings us great satisfaction. 

Patty: I have had the rare experience of being able to tutor two students from the same family and getting to know the family. It has been a great experience and very helpful as in insight into tutoring the kids. Steve: While I can work pretty well now with the online software, I still cannot wait for the opportunity to work face-to-face with my student. I just love it when they want to do something more than I do!

Helping at-risk and low income students get a fair chance in school has given us both a strong sense of purpose. School on Wheels is an excellent volunteer program to work with! 

Deborah Franza

I feel lucky to get to work with Deborah. Since the day I conducted the phone interview with her I knew that she was going to be an incredible tutor. She is giving back to the community and has helped her student tremendously. Deborah and and her student have an incredible relationship that continues to inspire me! 

– Aeriell Woodhams, Regional Coordinator

It’s been almost a decade since I was able to benefit from School on Wheels as a student. Now I am a student at UCI, so when I came across School on Wheels on campus it felt like stumbling into an old friend! 

Volunteering as a School on Wheels tutor has allowed me to be the consistent role model I needed when I was my student’s age. It’s just such a powerful experience to step into that role because it reminds me of how far I’ve come and reignites my determination to push for an even better life.

Working with my student is such an inspiring way to spend a free hour every week! If you are considering becoming a volunteer tutor, I highly recommend you take the plunge. At just an hour a week, it’s accommodating to even the busiest schedules. The one-year commitment seemed daunting at first, but after getting involved with my student I have become so invested in her success that one year doesn’t seem like enough!

Dr. Merilee Sperber

Merilee is one of the most patient, kind, and helpful tutors I have met. She has an amazing way of connecting and relating with her student. She understands their struggles and is always willing to make adjustments to make things fun for her student. 

– Manmeet Sodhi, Regional Coordinator

In this society, all children need to get a solid foundation in school. The experience of homelessness makes it even harder for parents to be able to free up time to help their children with school work so I think it’s important for those of us who have the time and ability to help out. Once I retired from work as a child psychologist, I had time available and wanted to continue my work with kids, and volunteering with School on Wheels gave me the perfect opportunity to do more in person. 

Before COVID hit, my husband and I were able to volunteer in person at a shelter. It was the first time I’d seen how a shelter would house families. It was quite a challenge, but a lot of fun as well. Moving to a middle school, many of the students spoke little English and we spoke too little Spanish so we all used Google Translate, which led to some uproarious “conversations.” We shared many laughs and learned a lot from each other.

I have recruited a couple of volunteers since I began tutoring with School on Wheels. I talk about it frequently, since I think it’s a fantastic program and find it to be an important and enriching part of my life. I was very lucky in having had a stable, loving home and lots of mentors as I was growing up; now it’s time to give back. We all need support and the idea it taking a village to raise a child is how I like to see the world. 

Ethan Nguyen 

Ethan has always gone above and beyond for our students. Last year he tutored two students and was incredibly involved in our ambassador program. Ethan had a great relationship with both of his students and worked hard to help them fill educational gaps.

– Aeriell Woodhams, Regional Coordinator

When I was younger, my family went on a trip to a Vietnamese orphanage. I always heard that I lived in a “bubble” but I never realized the full extent of this until my trip. It opened my eyes to the harms of poverty, and I resolved to try my best to do something about it. When I heard about School on Wheels, I decided to join up in order to make a difference in my community and to help people like those in that orphanage.

What I find most rewarding about tutoring for School on Wheels is watching my students tackle a difficult problem and struggle to work out the problem. I have to fight the urge to tell them the right answer! Instead, I give out small hints on what to do. When they finally solve the problem, a burst of pride swells up in my chest and I happily congratulate them on their success.

Robin Acosta

Robin always thinks creatively about how to support her student. When challenges come up, she’s always quick to adjust and make the best use of their sessions. She is a steady source of support, and their time together has greatly improved his attitude toward reading!

– Emma Gerch, Regional Coordinator

During the pandemic, I found myself having a lot more time on my hands than usual. I started researching possible volunteer situations and came across School on Wheels. Knowing how the pandemic has impacted education, I loved the idea of being able to support a student’s educational experience during this difficult time. 

The personal connection I’ve built with my student has been by far my favorite part of tutoring. It’s both fun and informative. It’s great to hear his view on things, and he’s taught me all about Roblox. He has often struggled with reading comprehension and didn’t always want to read with me or on his own, but after he had the opportunity to pick a fun book we could read together, I was thrilled to learn from his mom that he had started reading it between our meetings!

I would highly encourage anyone who enjoys the idea of collaboration and problem solving to consider volunteering with School on Wheels. I volunteered because I wanted to contribute, but have found the experience personally rewarding.