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.
Beth Romero. Consistency and communication are key elements for any tutor; and, Mrs. Beth is overflowing with both! Every week for the last year, the Skid Row Learning Center students have been able to rely on Mrs. Beth. She never hesitates to assist the little ones with their reading skills and has also donated many workbooks and school supplies. We now have an Animals Research section thanks to her collection of donated ZooBooks. In addition, Beth has been working to continue her education by attending school. As part of her program, she has decided to write a research paper identifying the effectiveness of using technology in education. This project has allowed her to become an integral member of School on Wheels. She has been to the center daily for the past 5 weeks, spending each day assessing and assisting students with online programs. She has helped by interviewing, data collecting, and observing the program in order to find the best ways to help students. We are very grateful for Mrs. Beth and can’t wait to utilize her research to help countless more students!
Allison Maldonado, Skid Row Learning Center Instructor
Keegan Farrell. Keegan has been a tutor with School on Wheels for almost a year and has worked with her student, Gabriel, the entire time. Keegan exemplifies the qualities of an outstanding tutor, providing consistency every week, logging her hours regularly, and using creative techniques to help her student learn and keep him engaged. Here is what Keegan has to say about her experience as a tutor:
“I decided to become a School on Wheels tutor after reading the book Shame of a Nation in one of my English classes. This book discussed the prevailing segregation and inequalities that exist in our educational system. I was so fired up by this issue, that when I encountered recruiters from School on Wheels at my college, I knew I had to be a part of it. Tutoring with School on Wheels has changed my life. It has allowed me to find more compassion in my heart for others, helped me grow as a student, and continues to challenge me in my commitment to helping my community.”
Thanks for being a star tutor, Keegan!
Paula Buxbaum, Senior Regional Coordinator
Marshae Franklin. Marshae has been volunteering with School on Wheels for three years. In 2011 she started tutoring and is now a Tutor Coordinator. Marshae has been a tremendous help by providing lesson plans and assisting in organizing volunteers in group tutoring. Marshae is willing to help out wherever she is needed. I really appreciate her. It has been a great pleasure working with her.
“After graduating from the University of California, Irvine, I found myself in search of ways to give back to the community. Not quite ready to go back to school, but tired of sitting at home, I began searching Google for tutoring opportunities with children in the Los Angeles area. I happened to stumble across School on Wheels . To my surprise it was exactly what I was looking for! Prior to becoming a tutor coordinator in 2013, I cherished the countless hours tutoring children on Saturday mornings. As a firm believer in the proverb, ‘It takes a village to raise a child,’ I have found this program to be just that. School on Wheels is a pillar of an ever so deserving community. Within my three years of service with School on Wheels, I have noticed that an hour of tutoring, smiles, and encouragement can impact a lifetime of change for an individual, which can ultimately better our future generations.”
Kenisha Edwards, Regional Coordinator
Jenn Urick. Since joining School on Wheels as a volunteer in November 2012, Jenn has contributed immensely to the organization. She has not only been a tutor and mentor to quite a few students but she has been a Tutor Coordinator for many shelters. In this capacity, Jenn has gone above and beyond to help in any way that she could. Truly, I would be lost without her! Recently, Jenn joined the School on Wheels team as our Operations Director. We are honored to have her with us. In addition to volunteering with School on Wheels, Jenn also volunteers with another organization that rescues feral cats, many, many cats! From the students, School on Wheels, the cats and me, THANK YOU, Jenn.
Here is what Jenn has to say…
“I first heard about School on Wheels from a coworker some years ago. Making the call to start volunteering in the fall of 2012 was a great life decision! I’ve been lucky enough to tutor two terrific students in the past year and the entire experience has been really rewarding. I’ve enjoyed trying to make learning fun in our sessions as well as seeing my students’ progress and successes in school.
“I think the most rewarding part of tutoring has been getting to know my students and their families. These experiences have helped me expand my own boundaries.”
Blue Mc Donnell, Regional Coordinator
Virna Solano. Virna is the Tutor of the Month in Region 4! She first became a School on Wheels volunteer in Ventura County. Once she settled in Long Beach, Virna began tutoring at a local shelter. Virna is a student herself at Long Beach State. With her classes and other commitments, she somehow finds the time to be a Tutor Coordinator. With only a small learning curve, Virna has become a valuable member of our team.
Louis Mena, Regional Coordinator
Britt Leach. Britt began volunteering with School on Wheels in August 2013. He’s been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to work with the same student for his time with School on Wheels. Britt is an exceptional tutor who truly invests time in his student. His student and student’s mom make it known how much they appreciate and value having Britt in their lives. He’s been working with children since his high school years in a number of capacities, from sports coach to teacher’s aide to camp counselor. Through these experiences he has developed an ability to and love for working with kids. Prior to volunteering with School on Wheels, Britt worked for five years in the field of athlete representation. There he helped a number of collegiate athletes matriculate into the professional ranks. Britt looks at his time with SOW as an opportunity to give back. This keeps him grounded and focused on the important things in life. Thank you, Britt, for being such an amazing volunteer! We honestly could not continue our work without dedicated tutors such as yourself!
Lisette Gaeta, Regional Coordinator
Devin Doyle. Devin has been a dedicated volunteer since May of 2012. He has been fortunate to work with the same student since he began volunteering. Over the past year and a half, the shelter staff, the student’s parents, and I have witnessed Devin and his student Jasimba develop a strong bond that is most uplifting to observe. The shelter staff admires Devin’s dedication to tutoring. At various meetings with shelter staff, I’ve heard comments like “Jasimba’s tutor is so awesome.” and “Jasimba loves his tutor!” Jasimba’s parents have confirmed that Devin is a great tutor; they say that “Jasimba loves working with Devin; he is great!” There is no doubt that Devin has been a devoted positive role model to his student. He has fully embraced School on Wheels’ mission and is an exemplary tutor. Thank you, Devin, for being such a dedicated tutor and for all that you’ve done for your student!
Yadira Melgoza, Regional Coordinator
Yanira Rivas. This month I am nominating Yanira Rivas as Volunteer of the Month for School on Wheels in Santa Barbara! Yanira Rivas has been a part of the School on Wheels family since 2009. Before joining School on Wheels, she was a Community Organizer in Los Angeles working to empower families to be part of the decision making process to improve their communities.Yanira joined School on Wheels as Regional Coordinator for the San Fernando Valley. She oversaw the San Fernando Valley until September 2011 when she moved to Santa Barbara. In her time as a coordinator for both regions, she has matched hundreds of students with volunteer tutors. Yanira has served as a great ambassador for School on Wheels in the communities she has reached. Yanira is currently pursuing her doctorate in Political Science at UC Santa Barbara and will still be part of our team in a volunteer capacity. Thank you on behalf of all the children you have matched and tutored. Thank you for all your dedication and hard work. You have made a difference!
Yadira Melgoza, Regional Coordinator
Tazin Yunis. Tazin is celebrating her 6 month anniversary with School on Wheels this month. She has worked with 2 different students in two different locations. Every time I talk to Tazin, I learn something new, and I am sure that it is the same with her student. She is genuinely concerned for her student’s success and often goes the extra mile. Most recently she volunteered to accompany her student’s mom to her parent-teacher conference to see how everyone could come together to offer the best support for Erika. Tazin is always trying to think of new and creative ways to teach the same concept if it looks like her student is not retaining the information. As a mom of two, her time is limited, but she still finds time to tutor and to invest in her student. She is a wonderful volunteer and we are so lucky to have her!
In her own words:
“It has been a pleasure volunteering with School on Wheels. I was so fortunate to find out about the program through Project Hope Alliance. The training commitment was reasonable and the lead time to start volunteering was less than a month. I was looking for a volunteer opportunity where I would feel that I am making a difference in a person’s life and also utilizing my skills and abilities. Another aspect of volunteering that was necessary for me was fitting it into my busy schedule; I am a working mom and wife, with two kids and their after school and weekend activities. Because I am able to tutor at our local library, where my own kids can do their homework and read while I tutor my student, this has made volunteering possible. I do not have to find child care nor drive a long distance in order to provide this community service; also I can work it into my and my family’s schedule. Tutoring with School on Wheels has been very fulfilling for me. I truly feel I am making a difference. My student has made great strides in math, an area where she was previously struggling. I see more improvement ahead and look forward to working with her into the future.”
Lilian Pahn, Regional Coordinator
Katherine “Kitty” Russo. Kitty came to School on Wheels during the holidays in 2013. She was quickly drawn to our mission and, as a retired school teacher, understood the hardships our students face. Kitty took it upon herself to revamp an old preschool space at Foothill Family Shelter into a usable classroom for all the students at the shelter. It is known at the shelter as the Reading Room She currently tutors her own student each week. In addition Kitty volunteers extra time to keep the Reading Room open to other School on Wheels tutors and other children and students not once…but twice a week! We are lucky to have Kitty as one of our dedicated volunteers and for being a leader in our community. Thank you Kitty!
Steven Alvarez, Regional Coordinator
Jennifer Jang. Since April of 2013 Jennifer has been tutoring with School on Wheels. She has worked with her student Miguel each and every week. It has been a pleasure getting to know Jennifer and having her share her kind-hearted self with the children who need it the most. Thank you, Jennifer, for being a committed and caring volunteer!
This is what Jennifer wrote about her time with School on Wheels:
“Tutoring has been an amazing experience for me. It has been a learning lesson for both myself and Miguel. One of the highlights of this past year is having the opportunity to see Miguel improve over our time together. When I first started tutoring him, Miguel had difficulty with multiplication, but with practice he has improved significantly! I have always thought that education is such an important part in everyone’s life. To be able to help Miguel improve, even with the small time that we spend together every week, is a blessing.”
Stefanie Aguilar, Regional Coordinator