Oct 27

Volunteers of the Month – October 2022

October 27, 2022

Katelyn Downer

Katelyn Downer

Katelyn is a phenomenal tutor who always gives her student words of encouragement and motivates him to try his best in all that he does. She has a natural positivity to her that enables Nathan to stay engaged and have fun, while learning at the same time. Katelyn is always open to listening to Nathans’s interests, diving into the topics and things he enjoys.

Yesenia Ontiveros, Regional Coordinator

I have always been someone who loves learning. If I could be a student indefinitely, I would! It really is a passion of mine and I am always hoping to spread that joy. I strongly feel that equal education should be open and available to everyone; since that’s not always the reality, I am committed to doing what I can to help make that happen.

I really love to see how a student can transform through their hard work. Even though everyone is intimidated by some subject, the students I have had the pleasure to come across have faced this so bravely, refusing to give up. It is really special to be able to witness such strength of character.

If helping children in need succeed in school sounds like something you’d like to do, try it out! It is such a uniquely rewarding experience; I have had the opportunity to witness so many students’ hard work foster incredible growth. School on Wheels provides such a positive and engaging environment. It is an organization filled with people who are passionate about what they do and the change they want to see in the world. Being a small part of that brings me a lot of cheer!

Ashwin Bhupathy

Ashwin Bhupathy

Ashwin is a very dedicated and passionate volunteer tutor. He is not only a tutor for his students but a champion for them in all they do. Ashwin’s students feel incredibly supported by him; not only does he focus on academics, but he is sure to inspire and encourage the curiosity of his students by ensuring that they explore topics outside of academics. He helps build confidence and creates an environment that promotes a growth mindset and encourages grit and determination. His students love him!

– Stephanie Swenseid, Regional Coordinator

I recently took a break from tutoring; what brought me back was remembering the confidence my first student gained from our sessions. Now, seeing my current student Johnny get excited to learn and work on subjects he previously didn’t enjoy is the most rewarding thing!

We try to strike a balance between study and play. Just a few weeks ago, Johnny worked with one of his brothers to beat me in checkers, and they did!

If you are at all interested in becoming a volunteer tutor, I encourage you to try it. Take your time and find your pace with your students; try not to put yourself through the paces too much if things aren’t moving at the rate you expected. The results will come, and it can be so satisfying to make this kind of difference in a child’s life!

Wonhee Lee

Wonhee Lee

Since Wonhee started, she has been very dedicated to making tutoring sessions work for her student by being flexible and building a great student-tutor relationship. She also reaches out to me often to see how else she can help the organization, which is very much appreciated!

– Ashley Cazarez, Regional Coordinator

In my experience as an immigrant and a student of history, I have learned that not all systemic injustices are apparent or outright violent. Rather, they are silent and deeply entrenched in every corner of the disadvantaged population over many generations, constantly discouraging them from having equal opportunity in education, healthcare, career and so on. In Los Angeles, where I live, there are about 8,000 people living on Skid Row, many of them homeless and suffering from drug addiction and mental illness. Skid Row originates from redlining practice executed by the government in 1976, and to this day, the largest homeless population of the country is contained in this 50-block zone. Whenever I passed by this neighborhood, I felt overwhelmed and helpless; I searched for ways to help these people, and I found School on Wheels.

I have been working with my current student Deloy since last October. At first he was understandably wary, but when he eventually opened up to me, I was deeply touched. We like to talk about sports, and his face lights up with joy whenever he tells me about his swim practice and meets. I will continue to support him in the best way I can so that he can achieve his dreams.

As a volunteer with School on Wheels, I experienced major personal growth as I gained a wider perspective on how homelessness can affect a child’s ability to gain an education. By supporting homeless youth with academic tutoring, drafting scholarship applications together, and guiding them to various resources, I am able to help my students prepare for a brighter future. As a tutor, I enjoy helping my students close learning gaps and making learning new things less daunting. As a mentor, I am an anchor for my students, to make them feel supported throughout times of stress and uncertainty. Giving back to the community and helping others can bring immense joy. As a volunteer, you will not only support young individuals to reach their goals in life, but also to feel more fulfilled and happier.

Haley Pak

Haley Pak

I decided to nominate Haley because of the bond she has built with her student, Myah. In speaking with Myah’s mom, it is clear that Haley and Myah have a good bond and enjoy the work they are doing together.

– Ariell Woodhams, Regional Coordinator

I started volunteering with School on Wheels because I wanted to do something to help people struggling with housing in Los Angeles. As a student, academic resources are something I have access to and something I can pass on to kids like my student Myah, children who need it most.

I’ve loved seeing Myah’s progress! It’s so rewarding to see her grasp concepts that are hard to memorize or understand with dutiful practice. She recently aced a practice quiz on parts of speech, a concept she’s been struggling to memorize. I’m so proud of her!

It’s common for children to feel ashamed for not knowing something, and it’s very important for more tutors/ teachers to encourage learning without unnecessary pressure or stress. I highly encourage anyone at all interested to check out volunteering for School on Wheels.