School on Wheels students who attend our after-school learning center were treated to a surprise visit from Mayor Garcetti yesterday
Mayor Eric Garcetti visited School on Wheels’ Skid Row Learning Center (600 E 7th Street, Los Angeles) to find out more about the center. The children knew that someone from the city was visiting and had prepared questions in advance but did not know that it was their mayor who would be the VIP visitor!
Questions from students to the mayor… How do we stop trash going into the ocean? Where do people that are on the street go when there is an earthquake? What are sidewalks so[sic] rumboled? How can we stop graffiti? Why do people have guns? And why do people live on the streets? When asked by a student “Why are shelters used instead of homes,” the mayor said, “We want shelters to be a place where people go in an emergency, not where you grow up.”
Sadly for the students at School on Wheels, many are growing up in shelters. The mayor offered hope by saying that they were building extra housing and that homelessness was his priority, but he noted these things take time.
The mayor also talked to the children about libraries, parks, water and the 2028 Olympic games. He told the students that all sports for kids would be free in the city and that they could be the next Olympians.
After a tour of the center, the mayor was interviewed by local media and was then whisked away for his next appointment.
“The kids, staff and volunteers at the center were thrilled to have met the mayor, “ said Catherine Meek, Executive Director. “Our students are really smart and they kept him honest with the questions they asked him!”
Catherine Meek, Executive Director of School on Wheels, accepts the John Simmons Memorial Award presented by Dorothy Nasatir of Sunair Children’s Foundation at their recognition lunch on Saturday, November 2, 2017
Eric Sarabia – Mr.Eric is a great tutor and he is nice and also helpful. He is funny and he helps me with my homework when I need help with it. He helps me when I am writing a story. Mr.Eric helps me with multiplication and he plays card games with me. Mr.Eric should be tutor of the month because he is a good tutor.
– Aisha, 3rd Grade
Region 6: Inland Empire
Gabriela Nunez – I joined School on Wheels as part of my college internship, but once my internship was over, I didn’t want to leave. Volunteering has made me expand my horizons through different tasks I’ve been able to accomplish. I feel like I’m actually giving back to my community by helping these children thrive in their education. As an educator, I strongly believe each child deserves a wholesome education to succeed in life. My student Maile has made me see the world with a different set of eyes.
Region 5 – Hollywood, Silverlake, Pasadena:
Jarred Olson – I feel that we all have an obligation to protect and empower the most vulnerable people in our communities. I was shocked to read about the prevalence of homelessness among children in Los Angeles and felt pulled to help in some way. Volunteering with School on Wheels seemed like an effective way to participate in stopping the poverty cycle that people without a support system often fall into.
Peter Knapp – It’s been a great experience tutoring and I’m thankful for the opportunity to be able to help through the online platform. I’ve been online tutoring since January of this year and have been able to work with a number of different students. It’s a fun and rewarding challenge to figure out different ways to help them understand a concept or, sometimes, just help them smile after a bad day. There are so many negative challenges that homeless students face – it’s gratifying to be able to offer some positive feedback and encouragement.
Region 4 – Long Beach, South Bay Cities:
Amber Monterosso – When I first moved to Long Beach, I was looking to find a volunteer organization to get involved with. When I heard about School on Wheels from a coworker a couple of years ago, I knew it was going to be the perfect fit for me. The perseverance of the students I have worked with is inspiring, and I’m grateful that I have had the opportunity to help foster a love of learning in them.
Region 8: Ventura County
Stephen Smith – Tutoring a homeless student has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. It might sound like a cliché, but I honestly think I get more out of the experience than my student. It feels so good to see his big smile and perfect white teeth when he “gets” a concept (or one of my corny jokes), sounds out a word, takes in my compliment or feels proud of himself. To know that I had a part in making this adorable, bright, polite young boy (who is growing up in not the best of circumstances), happy is indescribable. My 16-year-old son recently asked me if it was depressing tutoring a homeless child. I replied – not at all! I explained that I was confident that he would “make it” in life, due to all the people who were taking care of him. He has a loving mother, a good supportive sister, teachers who care and of course School On Wheels to provide their services and programs.
Eric (12th Grade) – Having recently moved to another shelter, Eric had been struggling with adjusting to his new environment. Reluctant to join our online tutoring program at first, Eric eventually developed a strong bond with his online tutor, Folu, a biomedical engineering student at Walla Walla University in Washington. Eric enjoys catching up on math and science and learning about college. Eric’s mom and shelter staff have noted that since he began tutoring with Folu, Eric has increased in his confidence in school as well as in his overall attitude and demeanor. Go, Eric!– Ian Chan, Program Administrator
Santiago (4th Grade) – has done a great job of keeping up with his homework. He is always prepared and ready to go when he arrives for tutoring. He is so polite, considerate and a “good boy.” He thanks me for helping him. Even though he just turned 9 years old, has already internalized the belief that he can be successful by doing well in school. One of the cutest things he does when reading to me out loud is that he will pause at words like “stupid” or “jerk” because he has been told by someone else in his life that these aren’t nice words. I tell him that it is ok to go ahead and say these words out loud because, after all, we are practicing reading. I actually know that he can read these words because when he gets to them he looks up at me for permission to say them. He is just that kind of kid. A pure delight! – Stephen Smith,Tutor
Leo (age 10) is an intelligent, creative thinker who is noticeably reflective and empathetic for his age. He loves graphic novels and his charter impressions make reading them with him a joy. The displayed picture shows a drawing he made of two of his favorite heroes, Finn and Jake. It seems like every time we meet Leo’s reading skills and focus get sharper. Keep it up Leo!
– Jarred Olson,Tutor
Skid Row Learning Center:
Stephanie (8th Grade) has improved tremendously. She is helpful to both staff and students alike. Her kindness, willingness to take direction and dedication to her education make her an excellent choice for Student of the Month.
– Jason Wright, Skid Row Learning Center Specialist
Maile (3rd Grade) is such an outgoing girl. Upon my arrival to our tutoring sessions, she always has a smile on and is eager for our session. For the last couple of weeks, she has been working really hard to master her multiplication tables. She is now learning her sixes. I am so proud of Maile and her accomplishments. We have lots of fun making slime and making volcanos.
– Gabriela Nunez, Tutor
Mahalaysia (5th Grade) – It has been such a joy to help my current student develop not only her math and reading skills but also her confidence. Every week she is more motivated to tackle new academic challenges, and I look forward to continuing to help her develop valuable skills.
– Amber Monterosso, Tutor
David Salazar – My first experience in tutoring for School On Wheels was when I met Issa who taught me how important it is to help kids during difficult times in their lives and how we can help so much by just being there. I learned as much from my experience tutoring as Issa learned in being confident in his math and himself.
Region 2 – South LA:
Pamela Wrona – I wholeheartedly believe that fostering a love for learning and an appreciation for the power of education early in life is so important for a student’s future success. I became a volunteer because I wanted to help children who didn’t necessarily have that support in their lives. It’s been such a joy to help my student Marie feel more confident in her studies and to see her eyes light up when she “gets” a concept. After one session, she told me “I wish we could do tutoring EVERY day!” Of course, that little comment made my day!
Region 5 – Hollywood, Silverlake, Pasadena:
Marissa High – I started working as a volunteer because I was feeling like I wasn’t making enough of an impact. I wanted to get involved and see direct results, which is why this is such an amazing program. It does not take up tons of my time, but it is an impactful amount of time for my student. I would say my favorite tutoring moments with him have been when he finishes something he’s been struggling with, and he’s excited that he was able to accomplish it. When I see that excitement, it’s an amazing feeling.
Region 10 – South Orange County:
Chris Ruoff – About a year ago I received an email from LinkedIn with volunteer opportunities that matched my profile – and this was one of them. I was first assigned to a winter shelter and spent 6 months there until it closed in April. In May I helped open a Digital Learning Center at a school site, and just last month we started tutoring at a new shelter in Orange. This has been such an incredible journey. I feel such a great sense of purpose in providing support and consistency for our kids.
Jishnu Basu – I am thankful for the opportunity to use my passion for math to help students who need it the most. I’ve tutored multiple students and each one had different strengths and weaknesses, and each one required a change in my teaching style. This is crucial because in one-on-one tutoring, tutors have the advantage of being able to focus and mold their teaching to a specific student, which cannot be done in the classroom. One of the most interesting aspects of being an online tutor is that I learn something new each week, from new techniques to solve a problem to how to work with different personalities.