May 20

Volunteers of the Month – May 2024

Melissa Castro

When I learned about the mission of School on Wheels to support children experiencing homelessness and provide them with educational resources, I knew I wanted to get involved. The idea of using my skills and knowledge to make a positive impact in the lives of these children resonated deeply with me. I believe that education is not only a fundamental right but also a powerful tool for breaking the cycle of poverty and creating brighter futures. Moreover, the resilience and determination displayed by these children in the face of adversity inspires me every day. Their eagerness to learn despite the challenges they face is both humbling and motivating. I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of their journey and to contribute in any way I can.

To someone considering volunteering as a tutor, I would say: Your time and support can truly change lives. By becoming a tutor, you have the opportunity to make a meaningful impact on the lives of students, helping them unlock their full potential and achieve their dreams. It’s a rewarding experience that not only benefits the students but also enriches your own life in countless ways.

From Rylee, I’ve learned the power of perseverance and the importance of embracing challenges with a positive mindset. Despite facing challenges in certain areas, such as reading, Rylee’s unwavering determination to improve her vocabulary and witnessing her resilience and tenacity in the face of obstacles has taught me the invaluable lesson that with patience and persistence, anything is possible. Additionally, Rylee’s boundless enthusiasm for learning has reminded me of the joy that comes from discovery and exploration. Whether we’re delving into a new math concept or exploring a new book, Rylee’s curiosity knows no bounds. Her eagerness to ask questions, seek answers, and problem-solving serves as a constant reminder of appreciation for the journey of learning.

Valerie Skowron

I love being part of the community, and I love kids and learning.

The smallest part is the math or language skills. It’s not teaching what to think and know nearly as much as how to think. So in a lot of ways, the biggest part is showing up and listening. And the funny thing is I feel empowered because I know my efforts do matter. Who doesn’t want that?

What inspires me to overcome any challenges that arise with tutoring is the power of seeing possibilities for someone.

Leila Thompsky

Leila was in high school when she started tutoring with School On Wheels and was looking for something that was consistent to help the community.

“Try and learn about the kid you are tutoring. What they like, what they dislike, what motivates them! Incorporate this into weekly sessions. There will be some hard moments where the student won’t like what is being taught or they think it’s boring but just try and push through, be persistent, and just know that you are making a difference even if in the moment it doesn’t seem like you are actually teaching them something.”

Because she has worked with Javier for so long, she has learned that all of the challenges she may face are temporary, and even if you don’t see progress in the short term, even if you face a hurdle, a couple of months down the line it won’t matter and you will slowly get to see your student transform and grow.

Leila tries to approach everything with enthusiasm and trying to find joy in things. She loves that he is super enthusiastic about math, which is not something people get enthusiastic about. It’s nice to find joy in the things that you do that may not be particularly fun.

Isaac Wolfkind

I became motivated to start volunteering with SOW because I remember how difficult school was without a tutor. When I was in 6th grade, I started taking algebra and was completely lost. My parents were fortunately able to hire a tutor to help me, but I realize that not everyone can afford one. Volunteering with SOW was my opportunity to give back.

I would advise any new volunteer to develop a personal connection with their students. Take the time to listen and stop looking at the clock. You’ll find that the more you do this, the more you’ll appreciate your time together and the better you’ll be able to help.

With any challenge, I always imagine myself in my student’s shoes. Many of our students come from backgrounds very different from our own and roadblocks may stem from distinctions in perspective.

From working with both of my students (Starjinae and Valeria), they’ve taught me that everyone has a different learning style and it pays off to devote time to figuring out what that is.