February 2015 Volunteer Stories

Volunteer tutors are the heart and soul of School on Wheels. Every month we feature tutors who are making a difference in their community. Read their stories below.

Volunteer Stories Archive

Skid Row Learning Center

Alex Goodman, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Alex Goodman. The recipe for the perfect tutor includes consistency, communication, and flexibility. Mr. Alex is here every Wednesday despite his long commute from Malibu. As a junior in high school, he consistently communicates with his coordinator and students. The 5th grade students flock to the Mr. Alex table ready to work and listen. Luckily, he is able to work with any student and can adapt to help all. Since he is also in school, he is able to relate to the students and keep them smiling and focused throughout work time. When asked about about School on Wheels, Mr. Alex said, “It’s great to see how much the students improve; not only month to month, but also just during one day. I always have a better day when I know I’m going to School on Wheels. Walking into a full Learning Center once a week is really fun because of how excited all the kids are, whether it’s about school or something else.”

The students at the Skid Row Learning Center are fortunate to have such a young and amazing role model to see every week!

Sarah Ikemoto, Digital Learning Center Specialist

Region 1 – Los Angeles

Wilton Mui, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Wilton Mui. Wilton has been a School on Wheels tutor for two years. His creativity and passion for teaching have made learning fun for the students. As the tutor coordinator at a domestic violence shelter in Region 1, he oversees the group tutoring. Each week Wilton provides consistency for the students, logs his hours regularly and uses creative techniques to engage the students in learning. Here is what Wilton has to say about his experience as a tutor:

“Two years ago, I heard about School on Wheels through a friend over dinner. Around that time, I completed my PhD qualifying exam, so I found myself with more free time. I had been wanting to find a way that I could most effectively help the homeless population. Utilizing my broad range of knowledge to tutor homeless children seemed like a really good idea. In my first year with SOW, I was a one-on-one tutor for two children in the Pasadena area. I found the one-on-one tutoring experiences very rewarding because I could set long-term goals with the children and see them develop academically. In my second year, I accepted an opportunity to start tutoring in a group environment at a domestic violence shelter. Though there are different challenges in a group environment, I have found it just as rewarding. I feel that I have positively influenced a much larger number of children and exposed them to new topics in math, science, and social studies through the Socratic method.”

Thanks for being such an amazing tutor and tutor coordinator, Wilton!

Marisol Farfan, Regional Coordinator

Region 2 – South Los Angeles (Compton, Lynwood, Inglewood, Watts, Gardena)

Cassandra Noble, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Cassandra Noble. Cassandra celebrated her first anniversary with School on Wheels last month. In her first year, she has tutored three students and been a dedicated volunteer. Cassandra tracks her students when they move from their shelter so that they can continue tutoring sessions, providing the students with consistency and additional learning. I greatly appreciate her and look forward to celebrating Cassandra’s volunteer anniversaries in the years to come.

“I started volunteering for Schools on Wheels because I want to make a difference. Being a member of the National Association of University Women South Bay Branch, requires its members to engage in a community based education program. School on Wheels stood out amongst the numerous programs seeking volunteers, so I signed up immediately. Each child has different needs. I feel rewarded by helping children who need educational assistance and have truly enjoyed this great experience.”

Kenisha Edwards, Regional Coordinator

Region 3 – Westside

Laleh Dallalnejad, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Laleh Dallalnejad. “I have been teaching math since high school (which was quite a while ago) and always enjoyed it. Nearly five years ago, I came across this organization, School on Wheels, and was immediately intrigued by what they do. I joined them and was matched with a student shortly after. Throughout these years, I have met and tutored some of the most amazing kids. They are bright and thirsty for knowledge. The joy and satisfaction I get every time I leave a tutoring session is wonderful. I am grateful to have the opportunity to be a part of these students’ lives and, hopefully, be making a positive impact.”

Thank you, Laleh, for doing all that you do for Bruce and for School on Wheels.

Blue Mc Donnell, Regional Coordinator

Region 4 – Long Beach, San Pedro

Kiaira Knox, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Kiaira Knox. In Kiaira’s words:

“I’ve been a School on Wheels tutor for about three months now and I’ve enjoyed the experience. I signed up because I enjoy doing volunteer work and I had extra free time. I thought, “Now is as good a time as any to start volunteering again. ” So I started looking for places to volunteer, and came across School on Wheels. I loved what they do and decided I wanted to be a part of it.”

We are so glad you chose us. You are a great addition to our team!

Louis Mena, Regional Coordinator

Region 5 – Echo Park, Hollywood, Highland Park, Silverlake, Mid-City

Katheryn Cauich, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Katheryn Cauich. We are grateful to have Kathy as part of SOW! For the past four months, she has been dedicated to helping her student Elise. Kathy is enthusiastic about tutoring; her real passion to help others is obvious. Kathy has a bright future ahead of her! In her own words:

“Oh, School on Wheels. You have saved my life. I am a nineteen-year-old adult who did not know what I wanted to do until I applied to volunteer with an amazing organization, School on
Wheels. This organization has accepted me and ignored my flaws, insecurities, age, gender, culture, and let me help others by being myself.

Throughout this short time with SOW, I have learned to be a role model to the younger generation. Sometimes, kids need some guidance. And heck, I have learned a lot from tutoring a student myself. I enjoy sharing my knowledge with others. People often consider young adults who volunteer as “nice”, but I don’t see it as an act of kindness. I see it as a privilege and I am blessed to be able to help someone. I love seeing improvements in the students, and I love seeing that kids treasure education at a young age. I can proudly say that I now know what I want to do with my life. I want to help people because sharing my knowledge with kids can benefit them in the future and that is such a great feeling. Thank you School on Wheels!”

Lancella Hunter, Regional Coordinator

Region 6 – West Covina, Rowland Heights, Corona/Norco, Pomona, Ontario, Upland, Chino

Leslie Sanchez-Balderas, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Leslie Sanchez-Balderas. Leslie has been with School on Wheels for over a year now. According to Leslie, it has been one of the best decisions she’s ever made. Leslie always wanted to work with adults, but when she started tutoring School on Wheels students, she completely reconsidered what she wanted her career to be. Leslie never knew working with kids could be so rewarding, So far she’s had the opportunity to tutor two students. Leslie has no doubt that School on Wheels kids are capable of achieving greatness. Recently, Leslie became a Tutor Coordinator for one of our shelters. Thanks Leslie; you are an amazing asset to School on Wheels!

Loreena Garcia, Regional Coordinator

Region 7 – San Fernando Valley

Susan Core, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Susan Core. Susan has been a volunteer with School on Wheels for over a year and we could not be more thankful! Susan has always been flexible and accommodating with her student’s family and their changing needs. She truly has gone out of her way to show Davian that she will remain a consistent part of his life as long as he wants her to be. Thank you, Susan, for being the kind and extraordinary person that you are. We are lucky to have you as a part of our organization!

In her own words, “I first became interested in Schools on Wheels via my daughter, who was looking for a project to do after school and had heard great things about the organization. We went through the training and started volunteering in November of 2014. She’s now off in college, and I’m totally hooked on working with a child through the program.

I am an executive at work, which means making lots of decisions, always with adults. Sometimes it’s hard to tear myself away, but I have made this hour a weekly priority. I don’t just do the tutoring for my tutee, Davian; I do it for me – to be in a world that’s completely new and different from the rest of my life.

I feel really lucky to have been consistently a part of this boy’s life for the past year. Davian’s grades are way up this year. He’s really focused and engaged, which I know many people have had a role in. Seeing him thrive, however, is an amazing feeling for me. If I have played even a very small part in this, I am so grateful to Schools on Wheels for the opportunity.”

Lisette Gaeta, Regional Coordinator

Region 8 – Ventura County

Mike Luu, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Mike Luu. Mike Luu began as a tutor in April of 2008. In his six years as a tutor, he has worked with fourteen students! Mike was interested in becoming a teacher; so he began to tutor students at Ventura College while going to school. He enjoyed the tutoring experience so much –and lucky for us– he joined School On Wheels as a tutor. He usually tutors students who are struggling in high school level math courses. One of his memorable experiences was helping a student study for and pass the math portion of the California High School Exit Exam. It was the only thing holding her back from graduating. High school level math is difficult for many of our students, and it can be hard to find a tutor comfortable enough in the subject. Thank you, Mike, for sharing your time, skills, and mastery of math as a tutor! It is truly a gift!

Terrie Soto, Regional Coordinator

Region 10 – Orange County

Christine Kang, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Christine Kang. In her own words:

“Volunteering at School on Wheels as a tutor and becoming involved as a tutor coordinator continue to be a rewarding experience for me. As a tutor coordinator, I have a unique opportunity to see the bigger picture from both the staff’s and volunteers’ perspective. I am able to interact with everyone on a more personal level. Every week our tutors and staff seamlessly work together to support and provide educational resources and a safe learning environment for our students. Working with School on Wheels students has been a great inspiration to me, encouraging me to continue pursuing my goal of working in the medical field, and never wanting to stop improving myself to better help my community.”

Lilian Pahn, Regional Coordinator