Month: December 2015

Dec 15

December 2015 Newsletter

Sofia is six years old. She’s not sure where – or if – she and her family will sleep tonight. She’s been in three different schools this year, trying to adjust each time to new curricula, new teachers, new classmates.  She is overwhelmed by stress and fear. Sofia is one of our students living in the extreme poverty of homelessness. She is one of the 163,000 homeless children in just the school districts we serve in Southern California. The barriers preventing her from getting an education are enormous.

We knock down those barriers – our volunteer tutors provide educational support to homeless children from kindergarten through grade 12.  We give hope and a chance to learn to these, our most vulnerable and forgotten children.  Our volunteers and the relationships they form with the students they serve make an enormous long-term difference in thousands of young lives.

Please consider a tax-deductible donation today so we can give homeless students like Sofia the hope they need to reach their full potential.  You can donate online through our donation page or by check to:
School on Wheels, Inc., P. O. Box 23371, Ventura, CA 93002.

School on Wheels is the only organization that brings tutors to homeless kids.  We can’t make a homeless child’s education a perfect one, but with your help we can fill the gaps and be a constant reminder to them that there are people who care about them and their education.  Please help us improve the life of a homeless child by making the most generous, tax-deductible contribution you can today at our secure website.

On behalf of School on Wheels and our homeless students, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support of our work.

In friendship,
Catherine signature
Catherine Meek
Executive Director
Dec 10

Demystifying K-7 Math Common Core Standards

This workshop discusses the rationale behind and the implementation of common core standards in math. Participants learn how the standards are organized, including both general and grade-specific standards. Participants also gain a better understanding of the way in which the standards are taught and the rationale behind the new teaching practices and techniques. While focusing on three specific math standards, Kelsey Ritzel provides examples to help tutors teach the basic math functions in their sessions

View/Download Slideshow of the Workshop (PDF)

About the presenter:

Kelsey Ritzel is the Associate Director of the High Road School in Norwalk, CT, a nonpublic Special Education school for children with emotional and learning disabilities. Prior to moving to New York, Kelsey worked as an elementary and middle school Special Education teacher in Los Angeles and Baltimore. While living in Los Angeles, Kelsey volunteered as a tutor at the School on Wheels Skid Row Learning Center. She earned her MA in teaching from Notre Dame of Maryland University with a dual certification in Elementary Education and Special Education.

Links to Additional Resources:

Common Core Standards Video
Place Value Based Addition
Place Value Based Subtraction

Dec 9

Ask A Tutor Tuesday – 12/9/2015

Question: What is the School on Wheels policy on gift giving over the holidays? I would like to give my student something but I’m not sure what is appropriate. Thanks.

This is a great question! It’s completely understandable to want to share a gift with your student over the holiday season. School on Wheels encourages creative and project-oriented gift giving, rather than spending money on purchased gifts, which can cause friction with siblings or make the parent(s) feel uncomfortable. Here are some ideas:

  • School supplies: If your student is running low on notebooks, pens and paper, or anything else, ask your regional coordinator for some additional supplies.
  • Books can be a wonderful present for students, and we have lots available at the Skid Row Learning Center. Ask your regional coordinator or drop by during business hours.
  • If you want to be creative, think about your student’s interests. If you have a skill, such as playing an instrument, perhaps you could perform for him/her. Alternatively, make something unique for your student. Even a simple handmade card will show your student you care.
  • Teach your student something they are interested in (a language, instrument, or craft). For example, show your student how to count and write in Japanese.
  • Do a holiday-themed craft project with your student. See this link for ideas. Most of the materials for these projects can be found at home or provided by your regional coordinator.

Remember to always check with your student’s parent or guardian before you give a gift or do a project with religious connotations. Most of all, have fun!

We would be happy to hear any additional thoughts and suggestions on our Facebook page!

About the Tutors: Timesia Garcia is a dedicated volunteer, passionate about helping others. She studies sociology at a local community college and has been tutoring with School on Wheels for almost two years.

Amanda Carr is the Trainer/Floating Coordinator at School on Wheels. Before joining the organization, she taught English and writing at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and worked as a volunteer manager at the Mount Holyoke College Alumnae Association.

Have a question for our Ask a Tutor feature?
Email askatutor [at] schoolonwheels.org or use the #AskATutor hashtag on any of our social media sites.

Dec 4

Students of the Month – December 2015

Laeloni, one of our Students of the Month

Skid Row Learning Center

Laeloni, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Laeloni, 6th Grade. Quiet and curly haired, Laeloni has shown much growth since joining School on Wheels. In a group tutoring session, she is able to successfully advocate for herself. If the group is getting a little loud, she will move to a private table to ensure she can remain focused. If she is finished with her work, she spends time enjoying socializing with tutors and other middle school students. Laeloni also has a sketchbook where she beautifully sketches flowers, vines, and butterflies. Tutors thoroughly enjoy working with her since she usually leaves them with a wonderful piece of art as a thank you. Her creativity paired with her desire to learn will allow her to transform into a mature, strong willed woman!

Allison Maldonado, Skid Row Learning Center Instructor

Region 1 – East LA to Pasadena

Cesar, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Cesar, 10th Grade. Getting to know my student Cesar who is 16 years old was definitely an amazing experience. Having the opportunity to guide him academically and mentor him have touched me because I see the positive impact in his life. For a student that hated reading and writing, he now writes in a journal every day and enjoys writing essays every week. Sometimes he even collaborates with me about what he wants to write. As a reward for his hard work, I taught him how to play chess. He even beat me in one game which was a rather proud moment of mine.

Jimmy Chan, Tutor

Region 2 – South LA

April, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– April, 3rd Grade. April is this month’s Student of the Month because she comes to tutoring early and with a smile on her face, ready to learn. Her tutors love working with her because of her enthusiasm. She gives 100% effort and deserves to be recognized for it. I know April will be successful in the future. Great job, April!

Miriam Lesserman, Tutor Coordinator

Region 3 – Westside

Kayla, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Kayla, 1st Grade. Kayla is a joy to be around and a very bright, creative student. She excels at everything she puts her mind to. Kayla is always up for a challenge; so we have been using sign language along with sand drawing to help her learn to write the alphabet. Each week Kayla comes ready to engage in our time together. We sometimes start the session with exercise because Kayla is quite an athlete. One of our goals has been to improve her reading. I am proud that Kayla completed the reading chart on time and with such enthusiasm.

Cathi Carlton, Tutor

Region 6 – Inland Empire

Anthony, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Anthony, 3rd Grade. In our first tutoring session, Anthony expressed to me, with a beaming smile, that he loves videos games. Since our first session, he’s shared with me what he wants to be a when he grows up, a police officer, and the places he loves visiting the most, the beach. Each time, he enthusiastically shares such information with a beaming smile. That’s what makes Anthony an ideal student; his smile demonstrates the positive attitude he has at every tutoring session. To date, Anthony has tackled multiplication tables, math word problems, fourth grade vocabulary and reading with a positive demeanor.

This is what I’ve come to learn about Anthony; he’s a problem-solver. I’ve found myself gazing at a Scrabble board in amazement right after Anthony’s made a move that shows he’s out to win! A positive attitude and a problem solver, Anthony reflects a winning attitude and aptitude in pursuit of knowledge.

Tom Rodriguez, Tutor

Region 10 – South Orange County

Lynette, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Lynette, 7th Grade. Lynette is in the 7th grade, bright, inquisitive, funny and warm. She loves to read, especially young-adult, fantasy-type novels where teens get to be true heroes. Lynette plays soccer every week and is turning out to be a great running player, moving from midfield to forward sometimes. She has two younger siblings that she helps take care of. Already, even at a young age, the little ones have really started to look up to her. Lynette loves her dog Odie and walks him every day. I can’t say enough about how amazing Lynette is! I love tutoring her. Most recently, we’ve been focusing on math; she’s quick to pick up the concepts. I look forward to our tutoring session every Wednesday.

Sabra Morris, Tutor

Region 12 – North Orange County

Destiny, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Destiny, 10th Grade. I have known Destiny for about six months. Within those six months, Destiny has improved tremendously in math. She learns concepts quickly and still continues to beat me in Concentration Math. I specifically remember we had an in-depth conversation about history, discussing if America really has progressed from the Civil War Era. She easily drew from her American Civil War history and tied it to present day, pointing out areas where the US has improved and areas where there’s work to be done.

Besides being an intelligent young woman, Destiny is a free spirit. She has expressed wanting to travel and learn a different language. She excels at the arts and has an impeccable fashion sense. She radiates positivity and has a gift of saying things how they are. It has been a pleasure tutoring Destiny. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for her because it is a bright and fulfilling one. Good job Destiny for all of your hard work!

Elizabeth Mack, Tutor

Online Tutoring

Carlos, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Carlos, 10th Grade. At first, Carlos was adamant about having his own way. He refused to participate during our sessions and hated reading aloud. After a few weeks of encouraging him, working with him, and, on the rare occasion that he read aloud, praising his progress, I noticed a huge change in him. I remember, as we were doing a reading activity, Carlos didn’t wait for me to read the passage first. Instead, he started reading the passage on his own. In fact, he kept on reading until the end! I couldn’t stop smiling and telling him what a good job he’d done by himself! Now he’s got his eyes set on graduating from high school.

Catherine Santizo, Online Tutor