December 2014 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

Rachel Bahman, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Rachel Bahman. Saturday morning tutoring at the Skid Row Learning Center is unpredictable. Thankfully Ms. Rachel’s spontaneous personality fits right in! Whether she’s working on a project for the kindergarten kids or hanging out on a field trip with high school students, Ms. Rachel thrives. Beyond working with the students, she is very helpful around the center. She has helped organize our school supply closet, supervised video game time, organized worksheets, and basically any other task that needs to be completed. After one year of service to the students, Ms. Rachel is organizing a holiday promotional party at Plan Check Kitchen + Bar to celebrate the hard work of the tutors and to raise awareness for School on Wheels. Ms. Rachel redefines the term “volunteer tutor” since she has done so much more than tutor.

Allison Maldonado, Skid Row Learning Center Instructor

Region 1 – Los Angeles

Pat Bayha, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Pat Bayha. Pat has been a tutor with School on Wheels for only a few months. However in such a short period of time she has made an enormous impact on her student’s life. Her creativity and passion for teaching has made learning fun for her student. Jazmin, her current student, is in the 7th grade and enjoys her sessions with Pat very much. Pat has the qualities of an outstanding and creative tutor: providing consistency every week, logging her hours regularly, and using creative techniques to help her student learn and keep her engaged. Here is what Pat has to say about her experience as a tutor:

“As an experienced teacher for over 40 years, I have always valued the importance of education. When I retired I realized I missed working with students and teaching. To my surprise at a doctor’s visit, I came across a magazine with an advertisement for School on Wheels asking for volunteer tutors. After sometime here I am loving what I do best”.

Thanks for being such an amazing tutor and role model, Pat!

Marisol Farfan, Regional Coordinator

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

Carlita Dorsey, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Carlita Dorsey. Carlita has been a volunteer with School on Wheels for two years. In the past two years she has truly shown remarkable dedication and compassion to her students. She has tutored at the same emergency shelter helping many students throughout her School on Wheels experience. Carlita also gives extra time as a tutor coordinator. She matches tutors with students and communicates with shelter staff. Carlita truly goes over and beyond tutoring. I’m grateful she is a part of our team!

In her own words:

“I love helping students master a subject that has been a challenge to them, be it geometry or writing the perfect letter “T”. The moment when it all just clicks for a student and you can see their faces light up is THE MOST amazing thing. I am honored to have the opportunity to help kids have that A HA! moment.

“School on Wheels has been such an awesome experience. I am so lucky to be able to work with such funny, kind, zany kids. Their resilience is nothing short of amazing. I often feel that the kids provide so much more to me than I will ever be able to give back to them. No matter what else is going on in my life, they always bring a smile to my face.”

Kenisha Edwards, Regional Coordinator

Region 3 – Westside

Alison Daniel, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Alison Daniel. Alison says:
“My experience as a School on Wheels tutor with my student has been an amazing experience so far. It’s only been 2 months since I started with my student but already I’ve come to realize that tutoring has helped me in many aspects of my life as well. I’ve noticed that I’m much more stress free and little things don’t bother me as much. I can tell that I’m a little bit more relaxed in other parts of my life because I’m not so worried about the unimportant things anymore.”

Alison may be relatively new to School on Wheels but she goes to see her student, Bella twice a week. Bella needed extra help and Alison was quick to say that she could spend more time with her. Thank you, Alison, for doing all that you do for Bella and for School on Wheels.

Blue Mc Donnell, Regional Coordinator

Region 4 – Long Beach, San Pedro

Andrew Park, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Andrew Park. Andrew is an exemplary tutor; he started with his student Juan a few months ago. While I was looking for another tutor for Juan’s brother, Andrew decided to take another hour and also tutor Alex. Andrew has been so great that he has even asked to be a Tutor Coordinator in the Long Beach region.

In Andrew’s words:

“I first decided to become a tutor for School On Wheels because I wanted to give back to others what is, in my opinion, one of the greatest gifts one can receive (besides love, and all that other mushy stuff). Education is such a powerful tool to a better life. Those of us who have it often times take for granted the problems and limited opportunities beset by those who don’t. We also tend to forget that education goes hand-in-hand with mentorship; people who educate also support and encourage. I wanted to be a part of this process, knowing full well that I am making a long-term investment in someone else’s future. I admit, at times it is difficult – the fruits of education are seldom seen immediately, if – and hopefully if – at all. As a tutor at School On Wheels, I have especially been learning the values of patience and adaptability. However, I find my time at SOW rewarding and fulfilling, and I will continue to pay forward what I so abundantly received.”

Louis Mena, Regional Coordinator

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

Terri Czapleski, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Terri Czapleski. Terri has been a part of SOW since 2011 and has tutored at two different shelters. Terri is great at organizing her tutoring sessions to cover many different concepts in just an hour. Terri does an excellent job structuring her sessions to include academics and adding fun rewards for her student such as computer time! She is not only a great tutor but Terri is extremely consistent and thorough with her tutoring logs. We are so happy to have Terri as Region 5’s Tutor of the Month! In her own words:

“I was drawn to School on Wheels because I think investing in our children is the best way to make this world a better place. Every child should have the opportunity for a quality education and learn that someone cares and will help them with the tools they need to become happy adults. When I started the program I didn’t know what to expect. I have had the pleasure of tutoring two amazing students. I’ve met wonderful mothers, teachers, and administrators in this incredible program.”

Lancella Hunter, Regional Coordinator

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

Diana McMurty, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Diana McMurty. Diana has been a tutor with School on Wheels for over a year at a family shelter in Upland. After 25 years as an educator, Diana decided to retire from teaching and has loved being a tutor to students living at the shelter. In fact, she is currently tutoring two students. Diana says that she has found the students to be eager to learn and a joy to work with!

Loreena Garcia, Regional Coordinator

Region 7 – San Fernando Valley

Nancy Dobbs Owen, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Nancy Dobbs Owen. Nancy is being recognized as our Volunteer of the Year for 2014. Since she first joined our organization in August of 2013, Nancy has been an exceptional addition to our team. Nancy was recognized as our Tutor of the Month in May of this year. Since then she has continued to grow as a tutor and continues to advocate for her student in every capacity possible. Nancy encourages Lyann to love learning and is patient and compassionate to her needs. Nancy has taken Lyann on many amazing field trips and even helped her apply for a School on Wheels scholarship which allowed Lyann to take ballet classes. Lyann was able to transition into permanent housing at the beginning of the school year, and Nancy has been there every step of the way! Thank you, Nancy, for being the amazing individual that you are! Lyann and her entire family appreciate having you in their lives.

In her own words, “I adore working with Lyann and seeing the world through her eyes. We teach each other. Sharing my knowledge and time with Lyann is always a highlight of my week. I think about her and what we can do together often. One of my favorite projects was working on addition and multiplication by making earrings for her mom and sister. Her generous spirit and artistic soul got to come and play while she worked on her math skills at the same time. It was lovely. She is very curious and inquisitive about everything and it is contagious! I want to keep learning with her.”

Lisette Gaeta, Regional Coordinator

Region 8 – Ventura County

Veronica Freltoft, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Veronica Freltoft. Veronica joined the School On Wheels team as a tutor in August and has been working with Elaine since then. She is very attentive to Elaine’s needs and always contacts me with details on specific supplies Elaine needs for school. Elaine and Veronica hit it off from the first session; I am beyond confident that Veronica has made a positive impact in Elaine’s life. With support from Veronica, Elaine adjusted to the move to a new city and starting a new school. She was able to catch up on her work and do well in her academics, School On Wheels’ goal for all of our students.

“I really enjoy tutoring through School on Wheels. It is rewarding to meet with my student because I see her growth and development from week to week, but also because School on Wheels is very responsive to the needs and questions that may come up. I am grateful to be part of a dedicated group that, one step at a time, makes a great effort to help homeless children in our community.”
Veronica Freltoft

Terrie Soto, Regional Coordinator

Region 10 – Orange County

Kaia David, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Kaia David. Kaia is an excellent tutor. She’s very patient and genuinely cares about her students. She doesn’t mind giving extra hours to help her students when she thinks it is necessary. Besides the student that was assigned to her, Kaia volunteers to help more students at the center. She initiated meetings with students’ teachers to better meet the needs of her students. During the summer, she also successfully convinced her students’ parents to have the students continue tutoring throughout the summer. This really showed the students her level of commitment and also helped them stay engaged.

Jimmy Dhanapanth, Tutor Coordinator