March 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

Bruce Ward, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Bruce Ward. Imagine walking into a room and ten little kindergarteners scream your name in excitement. Mr. Bruce lives this every Tuesday and Thursday! When asked about his experience, Mr. Bruce said, This is my second “tour of duty” with School On Wheels. I first met Agnes Stevens in 1999 and tutored on Skid Row for two years. After I retired from teaching I felt a void in my life. About a year and a half ago I reconnected with School On Wheels and have been volunteering for two days a week since then. I am also an inventor. I invented and patented a game that I developed to help Special Education students, my specialty. School On Wheels has been kind enough to allow me to bring the board game to the teaching center. On certain Saturdays I use the game to teach money skills to the kids. The game is highly interactive and a very effective tool in teaching this critical skill.

Allison Maldonado, Skid Row Learning Center instructor

Region 1 – Los Angeles

Matthew Haze, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Matthew Haze. Matthew has been an amazing School on Wheels tutor for six years. His creativity and passion for teaching have made learning fun for the students. Each week Matthew provides consistency for the students, logs his hours regularly and uses creative techniques to engage the students in learning. Here is what Matthew has to say about his experience as a tutor:

I started with School on Wheels in 2009. I heard from a friend that had been a tutor about the organization and thought this was something I wanted to become a part. I spent time living in a similar situation to many of School on Wheels’ students and know how easy it is to fall behind in school when you are young and in a group home placement or on the street. I identify with many of the students I have had the pleasure of working with and hope to inspire them to continue their educational goals. School on Wheels has become a very important part of my life.

Thank you for your dedication, you are such an inspiration, Matthew!

Marisol Farfan, Regional Coordinator

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

Candace Lauderdale, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Candace Lauderdale. Candace is celebrating six months with School on Wheels this month and has been tutoring the same student since she started. Candace is very committed to her student and is willing to help others as well. I greatly appreciate her and look forward to celebrating Candace’s future volunteer anniversaries in the years to come.

I joined School On Wheels in August of 2014 because I am very passionate about math and wanted to help a child understand concepts they will use for a lifetime. ​​My passion began in the third grade when I experienced difficulty grasping the concept of multiplication tables. My teacher noticed my struggle and developed a multiplication tool using music that helped me to finally understand multiplication tables. The moment I “got it” has been an indelible memory and the reason I will continue to be a math tutor.

Kenisha Edwards, Regional Coordinator

Region 3 – Westside

Raquel Abreu, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Raquel Abreu. Since I joined School On Wheels in 2014, I have met dedicated tutors and incredible students who appreciate this opportunity and always give their best. It has been a privilege to be part of such a great initiative. There are no words to describe how proud I am of my students, and the satisfaction I feel when I go home after every single session. I really hope to prolong this journey for many more years. Thanks, SOW!

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

Blue Mc Donnell, Regional Coordinator

Region 4 – Long Beach, San Pedro

Abigail Shipley, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Abigail Shipley. I started my tutoring experience at School on Wheels almost a year ago and have loved every second of it. Working with the same student has been so fun, and I’ve managed to learn a lot through the students I tutor as well. When first becoming apart of School on Wheels, I found that I was so excited to give back to others and share my love for teaching. I look forward to every Monday that I spend with the children and am so lucky to have this opportunity.

Abigail is one of our high school student tutors. She is a bright star and will be a great teacher someday. Thank you, Abigail!

Louis Mena, Regional Coordinator

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

Max Millspaugh, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Max Millspaugh. I’m so honored to highlight Max as Region 5’s Tutor of the Month. From the first day that he started volunteering, he has been nothing but positive, enthusiastic, and a joy to have on our School On Wheels team! Max is a high school student who is part of his school’s student council and is definitely a great role model for his student! Thank you for all your hardwork, Max! In his our words:

I am proud to call myself a School On Wheels tutor. Serving with School on Wheels has been a blessing-not-so-in-disguise in my life, and is an essential part of who I am. I learned about School on Wheels through a friend! In my opinion, volunteering with this organization is a crazy, awesome opportunity to help disadvantaged children and youth forge meaningful connections, and grow as individuals. Personally, I believe I have a large supply of happy-go-lucky energy and being able to use that to positively influence a child is a tremendous gift.

Lancella Hunter, Regional Coordinator

Region 7 – San Fernando Valley

Rachael Rebujio, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Rachael Rebujio. Rachael began tutoring with School on Wheels in March 2014. She has been an amazing tutor this past year. She is patient with her student, flexible with the family and always looks for new ways to keep her student engaged.

In her own words, I started working with School On Wheels because I love tutoring. However, I have learned that volunteering with School on Wheels is so much more than helping students with school work. Adriana has taught me a lot, just as much as I hope to have taught her. Adriana is funny and thoughtful; I enjoy being her tutor and friend. This past year I applied to grad school and will be starting a Physician Assistant program at USC in August.

Thank you, Rachael, for all of your hard work this past year and for continuing to make a difference in the lives of our kids!

Lisette Gaeta, Regional Coordinator

Region 8 – Ventura County

Daniela Flores, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Daniela Flores. Daniela Flores just celebrated her one year anniversary of becoming a tutor. She has been working with Briana since then! Although they took a break from tutoring during the winter holiday, as many students do, Daniela stayed in contact with the family and coordinated when they would resume tutoring. Once school started again, Daniela and Briana jumped right back into tutoring mode, without skipping a beat. While I was setting up Briana’s brother with a tutor, I noticed the impact Daniela’s enthusiastic and positive demeanor has on Briana’s attitude and willingness to participate during tutoring sessions. It was evident that Briana looks up to Daniela, not only as her tutor but as a female, Latina, role-model. It is these lasting relationships between our students and tutors that make the most meaningful impact on the lives of the students we serve. Congratulations and thank you, Daniela, for reaching the one year mark and keeping your volunteer commitment to our students at the forefront.

Terrie Soto, Regional Coordinator

Region 10 – Orange County

Barbara Penland, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Barbara Penland. Barbara has been a tutor since September of last year and is celebrating her six month anniversary this month! She is extremely dedicated to her student and has a great relationship with her student’s mom as well. She listens and observes the needs of her student and works to meet those needs every week. She prepares diligently for each one of her sessions, using a beautiful organized and color-coded binder that she has created especially for her student. Most recently, Barbara graciously agreed to become a Tutor Coordinator for School on Wheels. She has already contributed and given input in significant ways.We are so excited to continue to work with her in the coming years.

In her own words:

Many years ago I tutored adults who couldn’t read. Most of them had “successfully” completed high school. I am thrilled to be able to tutor young readers through the School on Wheels program and do my part to break the cycle of illiteracy. I look forward to “Tutor Tuesday” each week.

Lilian Pahn, Regional Coordinator