Month: March 2016

Mar 28

Group Tutoring Best Practices

In this workshop, experienced group tutor Monica Carrillo and School on Wheels Regional Coordinator Kyle McDonough discuss the challenges of group tutoring. Topics include establishing a routine, behavior issues, and time management. The presenters offer tips and best practices and provide resources for volunteers currently working in or curious about group tutoring settings.

Mar 8

Ask A Tutor Tuesday – 3/8/2016

Question: “My 7th grade student always seems to want to end our sessions early, after we have completed homework. I try to work on additional material with my student but she doesn’t seem interested or understand why I have brought extra work.”

Whenever I motivate my students to do extra activities, they always need a convincing reason for completing the assignment or else they’ll perceive it as extra homework. If I plan an extra activity for them, I always explain how the skill would be useful in solving real-world problems. Since your student is in 7th grade, an extra activity she could do is learn how to make a budget so that she can manage money more efficiently. This would help her learn how to save up money to buy something useful. And even though she are learning budgeting skills, she is also learning foundational math skills such as addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Now that she can see the benefit in learning how to budget, she should be more open to learning math skills.

Another approach is to take into consideration your student’s interests. For example, if you want her to improve her reading and writing skills and her favorite video game is Minecraft, you can have her write a paragraph about who created Minecraft and why they developed the game. This will help build her essay writing and sentence structure skills, and she will be more motivated to learn because she is writing about her favorite game. If you have a computer available, you can also have her watch a video of something she finds interesting and then have her write down what she liked about the video.

Essentially, to make any activity more appealing to complete, I always show my students how the activity will help them succeed when they get into high school, college, and beyond. Also, I try to incorporate things into the activity that are interesting to them.

About the Tutor: Natalie Platon has over seven years of experience working with K-12th grade students in different capacities and possesses a multiple subjects teaching credential. She has a deep passion for working in diverse and underserved communities and has worked in after-school programs, tutoring organizations, shelters, and schools. She currently works at KIPP Iluminar Academy in East LA as a full-time substitute teacher.

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.

Mar 4

March 2016 Newsletter

Dear Friend,

Every month we highlight our star students and tutors. I am always amazed at the sheer tenacity and resilience of our students and the caring and passion of our volunteers. Please take a few minutes to read about Kaliyah who is in 6th Grade, and described by her tutor, Vivek, as brilliant, impressively curious and clever. Vivek has been a tutor since 2014. When he moved to Michigan to attend medical school, he continued to volunteer as an online tutor. Miles away, he continues to make a difference every single week.

Our students live with chaos and instability every day. They experience varying levels of trauma; some have been victims of violence and abuse; many more have witnessed it. Our studentsexperience high rates of health problems. They are sick more often than other children. They also go hungry at twice the rate of other children and have three times more emotional and behavioral problems than their housed peers.

And yet, when you read about mother and daughter tutors Susan Edelman and Clara Pitsker and how much they care about their students, or Jason Lee whose student encourages him to pursue his own dreams, you will understand that our students are fortunate to have such committed and compassionate people in their lives.

I’m inspired when I read about our star students and volunteers.  I’m inspired by all our students, volunteers and donors.  In my mind, you’re all stars. Thank you for caring. Your support is helping make a significant difference in so many lives.

With gratitude,

Catherine signature
Catherine Meek
Executive Director 

Mar 2

Tutors of the Month – March 2016

Jason, one of our Tutors of the Month

Skid Row Learning Center

Holly Norman, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Holly Norman. The Skid Row Learning Center helps students after school who live, amongst other places, at the Union Rescue Mission. Sometimes students have such a long commute that they may not arrive at the shelter until dinner time, leaving little time to do homework. To help these students, we set up group tutoring twice a week where they live. We were not sure if any students would attend. Holly Norman was one of the very first tutors to sign up for the task. We now have between eight and ten tutors at the Union Rescue Mission on various nights, and each tutor helps one or two students. Holly was an essential part of making this happen. Her consistent presence encouraged students to show up, and her friendliness helped them open up! She recently moved to Orange County where she will continue to help other School on Wheels students. We are grateful for all Holly has done at the Union Rescue Mission; she will be missed!

Allison Maldonado, Skid Row Learning Center Instructor

Region 3 – Westside

Clara Pitsker & Susan Edelman, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Clara Pitsker & Susan Edelman. This month I would like to honor a mother / daughter team that have been wonderful and supportive tutors to two sisters, Jada and Chanelle. I know these students from group tutoring and they are always talking about their tutors and how much they enjoy meeting with them. Thank you both for all you do!

When a friend told me and my teenage daughter about School on Wheels I thought it would be a great opportunity for her to be of service and help others that are less fortunate. I imagined I would drop off Clara at the orientation, drive her to tutoring, etc. I didn’t expect that I would become a tutor as well. I ended up staying for the tutor training, and was inspired by the amazing work that School On Wheels does. I feel as though the little girl I tutor is family, and every minute we spend together has made me grateful for having School on Wheels in my life and for providing the services they do. You guys are the best! – Susan

When I heard about School on Wheels, it sounded like a great opportunity to help others and give back to the community. I’m thinking about becoming a teacher after college, and this was a perfect way to help and tutor someone else. I feel like my student has shown improvement in math, and we’re starting to build a friendship as well. – Clara

Kyle McDonough, Regional Coordinator

Region 4 – South Bay, Long Beach

Jose Thimothy Long, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Jose Thimothy Long. Through my high school career center, School On Wheels was posted along with many other volunteer options. SOW had so much to offer. It gave me the opportunity to help other children as I do my younger brother. Not only did I get the opportunity to give back to the community but I could hope to inspire a child by helping the student recognize his/her strength. Being a part of SOW has made me realize how much I enjoy teaching. Through this amazing program I learned selflessness and have gained a greater appreciation for a strong education. I now understand what a big part education plays in a person’s life, and that helping a child flourish is extremely gratifying.

Louis Mena, Regional Coordinator

Region 5 – Hollywood, Silver Lake, Highland Park

Paige Kaplan, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Paige Kaplan. Paige has been an amazing tutor who has definitely been there for her student. Paige helps her student academically but is a great mentor as well! Paige teaches her student life lessons and is also a great role model. Her passion and dedication truly shows, and we are so grateful to have Paige on the School On Wheels team! In her own words:

I work with Sumaita on her homework assignments that she is having trouble with, and I also help her study for exams. Math is one of the main subjects we work on. I often find myself explaining different ways to approach problems to her. I have found that helping her understand why we take certain steps, when solving a problem, is more effective than simply memorizing the steps. One of my favorite tutoring moments was when Sumaita and I talked about college: different ways to pay for it, why it’s important, if she thinks she wants to go, and what kind of careers she could have after graduating. It was really cool to see her realize things she may not have been told before and see her express an interest in higher education. Other favorite times were when we took a trip to my favorite coffee shop downtown to study and when we went to the Natural History Museum . Beforehand I taught her how to pump gas.

Lancella Hunter, Regional Coordinator

Region 6 – Inland Empire

Jannah Jakvani, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Jannah Jakvani. Jannah began tutoring in July 2015. She has been such a pleasure to have on my team, always positive, friendly, caring and seems to make an immediate connection with her students. Her passion for helping others is very apparent in her personality and the way she interacts with families. She is great about logging her hours and commenting about her sessions. Here is what Jannah had to say about her experience as a tutor:

I decided to volunteer with School on Wheels because I value education a lot and being able to share my love of education with someone else is amazing! Trinity is such an intelligent and sweet girl. I look forward to tutoring every week because I am able to share my enthusiasm about education, and help her see that if she sets her mind to something, she can accomplish it. The best part about tutoring is being able to see the improvements your student has accomplished over time. I am extremely glad to have the opportunity to tutor with School on Wheels.

Jannah, you are GREATLY appreciated!!

Trish Arias, Regional Coordinator

Region 8 – Ventura, Santa Barbara

Lisa Olmstead, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Lisa Olmstead. Not only is Lisa our wonderful bookkeeper, she has also been tutoring for five months now! Lisa heard about School On Wheels before she began working here and always knew she wanted to get involved in directly supporting School On Wheels’ mission. As I chatted with Lisa about her tutoring experience, she shared with me that she was a bit nervous that her student might bring work that she wouldn’t be able to help with. Fortunately, that has not happened. Lisa says the most helpful resources she has used during tutoring are the math assessments. She’s also made good use of the links to math worksheets. I truly admire all the hard work you put in at the office, Lisa, and even after a full day’s work, you show up to tutoring prepared with activities and a positive attitude. It is no wonder your student has improved from being at a third grade level to being at fifth grade level. Keep up the great work, Lisa!

Terrie Soto, Regional Coordinator

Region 12 – North Orange County

Jason Lee, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Jason Lee. Jason has been tutoring with School On Wheels since March of 2015. During that time, he has been fortunate enough to work with the same student, Deseree.

In his words, I love to learn, but I didn’t always know this. My decision to become a School on Wheels tutor has opened my own eyes to a whole world of endless opportunities. My student’s excitement about the science projects I introduced to her has encouraged me to show the same excitement about everything that I have yet to know. She has unknowingly encouraged me to pursue my own dreams and passion.

Laura Schickling, Regional Coordinator

Online Tutoring

Vivek Shah, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Vivek Shah. Vivek joined School on Wheels as an in-person tutor in November of 2014. Since moving to Michigan to attend medical school, Vivek continues to tutor with us as an online tutor. Despite his busy schedule, Vivek always makes time to tutor consistently each week. We are very lucky to have Vivek on our team. Miles away, he continues to make a difference.

In his own words:

Tutoring with Kaliyah has truly been a joy. I have seen so much growth and excitement in her during our tutoring sessions; it’s more energetic each time. She’s learning some relatively complex topics in school. By the end of our sessions, Kaliyah can do a practice question with minimal guidance. Seeing that I can make an impact on Kaliyah has honestly made me consider working with children as a pediatrician for the rest of my career.

I’m so happy that School on Wheel has an online tutoring program. I worked with students in-person when I lived in LA and was bummed at the possibility of no longer being able to tutor after I jetted off to medical school. I love teaching so much, and online tutoring is a brilliant idea. There are very few, if any, other organizations that offer tutoring to the population that School on Wheels does. And then to expand the number of available tutors from California to nationwide by offering online tutoring is going the extra mile. I’m proud to be a part of School on Wheels and glad to be tutoring with them!

Ian Chan, Digital Learning Coordinator

Mar 2

Students of the Month – March 2016

Sumaita, one of our Students of the Month

Skid Row Learning Center

Elijah, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Elijah, 7th Grade. Elijah has earned the honor of being Student of the Month for the month of March because of his remarkable tenacity. He exhibits this trait every time he walks into the Skid Row Learning Center with his math packet in hand. Once we begin working on the tasks, he demonstrates a tenacious willingness to tackle the multi-stepped and critical-thinking problem sets he’s assigned. His determination has paid off because he requires less and less help as the month progresses. Elijah has rightfully earned the distinction of being Student of the Month.

Brian Lopez, Skid Row Learning Center Instructor

Region 3 – Westside

Jada & Chanelle, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Jada & Chanelle, 6th / 3rd Grade. Jada and Chanelle are the sweetest girls! In addition to tutoring them, we’ve started to build a friendship with them. It has been a joy working with them! They are hard working and are always willing to put in the time to finish their work. We’ve started to play multiplication games with them, and are looking for new ways to make the work a bit more interesting. They are both creative and like to draw pictures or build structures. Taking them on “field trips” and being able to spend time with them on the weekends has been a highlight for all of us! Jada and Chanelle have been through a lot, but I know that they will succeed and become creative and hard working adults!

Susan Edelman, Tutor

Region 4 – South Bay, Long Beach

Immanuel, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Immanuel, 2nd Grade. My student Immanuel has become an inspiration in my life. He works diligently on his homework every time we meet; when faced with a difficult assignment, he continues working to solve the problems until he masters them. As much as I’d like to say I teach him, Immanuel teaches me also. He is very determined, a great mathematician and an excellent reader. I enjoy working with Immanuel and look forward to seeing him succeed in all his goals. I believe that he will succeed in whatever he pursues.

Jose Thimothy Long, Tutor

Region 5 – Hollywood, Silver Lake, Highland Park

Sumaita, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Sumaita, 9th Grade. Sumaita made the transition from middle school to high school in the most inspiring way. She has become focused and dedicated to her school work, having a nearly straight A report card last semester! Multi-step algebra, complex vocabulary words and thoughtful analysis of history topics are just a few of the things that Sumaita has mastered. In addition to an increased focus on her current work, she expresses a desire to continue her education beyond high school. Sumaita has been a pleasure to work with and always has a positive attitude!

Paige Kaplan, Tutor

Region 6 – Inland Empire

Trinity, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Trinity, 7th Grade. I am extremely grateful to be able to tutor Trinity. She is such a strong, confident, intelligent, and caring individual. Even though she struggles with math, she is always willing to try her best at a problem she finds difficult. Over the months that I have been tutoring her, she has improved in math and seems to understand it a lot better! She is eager to learn and her quick understanding of the material we go over never fails to amaze me. Trinity’s smile and positive attitude make me look forward to seeing her every week and makes the experience so enjoyable.

Jannah Jakvani, Tutor

Region 8 – Ventura, Santa Barbara

Angela, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Angela, 5th Grade. Angela is an extremely motivated and talented young lady. She comes to her sessions with a smile on her face and ready to learn! She is very dedicated to school and her education. I am nominating her for Student of the Month because she raised all of her grades by at least one letter grade! I am very proud of her for all of her hard work and perseverance.

Lisa Olmstead, Tutor

Region 12 – North Orange County

Deseree, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Deseree, 6th Grade. Deseree is in 6th grade. We get along well and can joke around while still learning. I’ve been continuously exposing her to more science stuff; and, she seems to enjoy it quite a bit. For our first science project, we looked at the surface tension of milk using food coloring. Her excitement about the science projects has encouraged me to show the same excitement in my own life.

Jason Lee, Tutor

Online Tutoring

Kaliyah, School on Wheels Student of the Month

– Kaliyah, 6th Grade. Kaliyah comes to our sessions full of energy and ready to learn; and, no matter how long a session may seem to her or how hard a concept may be, she stays enthusiastic and willing to move on to more learning. I’ve seen so much change with Kaliyah. While Kaliyah has always been brilliant, impressively curious and clever, she’s become so much more focused, is ready to learn and is productive at each session. The increasingly positive attitude she has makes our sessions much more productive and enjoyable. Despite sometimes-difficult topics, she stays really patient. Working with Kaliyah has honestly been an honor. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for us.

Something that’ll always remind me of Kaliyah is the orange joke. You know, the “knock knock…banana x10…and then…orange you glad it’s not banana?” She likes to tell jokes if we have extra time, and I always enjoy them. Some extra laughter never hurt anyone.

Vivek Shah, Online Tutor