On the eve of his historic visit to the U.S., students, staff and volunteers at School on Wheels had the distinct honor and privilege to be part of a live audience with the pontiff, to be aired in a one-hour special edition of ABC News’ 20/20 on Friday, Sept. 4.
Pope Francis engaged via satellite with three different groups, including homeless men, women and children and those working with the homeless in Los Angeles.
The Pope was greeted with applause and cheers as he joined our group on a live feed from the Vatican. His words were filled with kindness and compassion and he listened intently to the stories from the audience as families and children told him about their struggles. One little girl told him she just wanted to have a house, and seeing her friends go through their front doors on her way to the shelter made her sad and ashamed about her family’s situation.
He expressed deep concern for homeless children and said that, “We all need a friend to help us through difficult times.” and that children in particular needed positive role models in their life.
We are proud to say that our volunteers are just that, positive role models in the lives of the homeless children we serve!
“Pope Francis is only the fourth pope to visit the U.S. and it was a once in a lifetime experience to be part of an audience with the pontiff,” said Angela Sanchez, former School on Wheels student and homeless children’s advocate, who was interviewed after the event. Catherine Meek, Executive Director of School on Wheels, added:
“I want the Pope to know that one in every 30 children – one student in every classroom – in America experiences homelessness each year. School on Wheels is helping homeless children in LA and throughout Southern California every day. It is not only a moral obligation of society but an economic imperative for these students to succeed in school.”
School on Wheels was honored to be part of the #audiencewithpope and we all left the event feeling a bit lighter on our feet!
Question: I’m a new tutor and I’m nervous about attending my first session. I’ve never tutored before and I’m not sure what to expect. My student is 15 and is starting 10th grade. Do you have any tips for breaking the ice?
-Nervous in Region 4
Hi, Nervous in Region 4!
First sessions are always the toughest. I’d suggest doing an activity with your new student that allows him/her to feel comfortable and, at the same time, allows the two of you to get to know each other. In the past, I brought an inexpensive composition book and told my student that this would be her tutor notebook. Along with the notebook, I brought two old magazines from home, scissors and glue. At our first session, I told her we’d personalize the outside cover of the notebook with words, phrases or pictures from the magazines. It only took about 15 or 20 minutes, but I really got to know a lot about her based on what she chose to put on the cover. We were also able to have a comfortable conversation about what should or shouldn’t go on the notebook, which really broke the ice. During future sessions, she used it as a writing journal; other times we’d use it as scratch paper, and sometimes she used it to to write example problems in case she got stuck when I wasn’t there. The tutor notebook became a really practical tool for my student and personalizing it together helped us both feel more comfortable right from the start.
About the tutor: Jackie Romo has been a School in Wheels tutor for nearly 9 years. Aside from tutoring, she teaches first grade in Rowland Heights and recently earned a Master of Science in reading. She is happy to help in any way she can to make your tutoring sessions successful!
This workshop reviews ways to identify your student’s ‘math break,’ while also providing tips and techniques to make math fun for both you and your student. Increasing the ‘fun factor’ during tutoring sessions will keep your student engaged and help eliminate learning gaps.
Anita Weir started college as a math major, before eventually earning a degree in Business Administration from University of Phoenix. She recently retired from her third career as an Executive Assistant. In previous careers she worked as an Insurance Claims Examiner and an Employee Benefits Specialist. She has been tutoring School on Wheels students since 2012. She lives with her family in Playa del Rey, CA.
Assistance League of Santa Monica member volunteers gathered on Wednesday at the Chapter House to fill 420 backpacks with age appropriate school supplies, which includes notebooks, writing utensils, and other materials, as well as a hygiene kit including deodorant and toothbrushes. These will be distributed to local students in the fall before classes resume.
As of the 2014-15 school year, the League has supplied non-profit organization Schools on Wheels with 935 backpacks!
School on Wheels was featured on the Southern California Public Radio, KPCC, website in an article on the issue of summer learning loss and how our program helps homeless students learn throughout the year in face of the many other transitions they experience.
On Friday, August 14, some of our students showed off their abilities at our end of summer Talent Show. Before the students took the stage, parents and children got to enjoy delicious hot dogs and burgers for lunch, which were being grilled outside our Learning Center. Meanwhile, all of our guests enjoyed carnival games and face painting. At 1 pm, we walked over to Inner-City Arts for the main event. We had all types of performances including break dancing, singing, gymnastics, a magic show, rapping, poetry slam, piano and violin performances, and singing the ABCs (as seen in the video above).
Thanks to all of our dedicated volunteers and employees who made this day possible, and a special thank you to our incredibly talented students!