Author: Lisa Pullins

Apr 23

Honoring Our Volunteers and a Video Message From Mayor Eric Garcetti

April is Volunteer Appreciation month, and every year we celebrate our volunteers and thank them for dedicating their time and talents to supporting the homeless students we serve.  As this year is our 25th anniversary, we hosted our biggest event ever. On Saturday, April 21,  over 150 volunteers from Long Beach to Ventura joined staff and board members for an inspirational breakfast and award ceremony.

Mayor Eric Garcetti honored volunteer tutors with certificates of appreciation and recorded a video for us to share at the event. Speakers included a parent whose daughter is now attending college and student Charlie (15) who surprised his tutor, Executive Director Catherine Meek, by reading out the proclamation she received from the mayor. Click here to see a full list of the amazing volunteers who logged over 50+ volunteer hours in 2017.
 
Apr 12

AME Lenten Caravan Donates to School on Wheels – Los Angeles Sentinel

Eight AME churches recently united to present the Community Lenten Caravan (CLC), a series of services held in L.A. and Pasadena leading up to Resurrection Sunday.

The goals were spiritual renewal for believers and raising funds to assist two local nonprofits. School on Wheels of Los Angeles and Alkebulan Cultural Center of Pasadena received all of the proceeds from the CLC services.

Above, the nonprofit representatives (center) pose with CLC Pastors (from left) Dwaine Jackson, Darryl Walker, Benjamin Hollins, Kelvin Calloway, John Cager III, Carolyn Baskin-Bell, T.C. Johnson, Mary S. Minor and Larry Campbell. (Jacquelyn Calloway photo)

Read the article on the Los Angeles Sentinel here.

Apr 11

Nonprofit Spotlight – m/OppenheimTV

Nonprofit Spotlight: School on Wheels Volunteers Going the Distance in Tutoring and Guiding At-Risk Students

By Alexandra Fradelizio | m/Oppenheim Media Writer

For thousands of homeless and unsheltered children, falling behind in school is an occurrence that jeopardizes their future education and livelihoods. The Southern California based organization School on Wheels works with about 3,500 at-risk youth annually“to reduce the gaps in education of homeless kids from kindergarten through grade 12,” stated Executive Director Catherine Meek.

Students who are tutored by the volunteers of School on Wheels reside in Los Angeles County with many meeting at the organization’s learning center in Skid Row. For the majority of children unable to visit the learning center, dedicated volunteers travel to homeless shelters, a nod to the organization’s name.

“We work with the kids that are the most transient,” explained Meek.

“We go to wherever the kids are. They don’t come to us.”

In order to recruit volunteers, the School on Wheels staff conducts extensive interviews and provides a mandatory training program to ensure tutors are able to remain within the organization for the foreseeable future. The process not only effectively matches volunteers with students but also helps to create a “lasting relationship,”Meek stated.

“The most important success factor for our students is consistency of volunteers and the bond that is created between the student and the volunteer.”

School on Wheels accepts volunteers across all age groups and backgrounds. Tutors as young as 12 are permitted to volunteer with a parent or guardian, and the organization has previously recruited individuals with professions in business, science, and drama. A senior volunteer initiative has also been implemented to attract individuals over the age of 55. Ultimately, staff of School on Wheels seek to find individuals who want to both help and guide students in receiving an education.

“It’s very difficult to gain the trust in a short time period of kids who are unsheltered, and they are arguably the kids who need our help the most,” said Meek.

The organization was originally founded 25 years ago by retired school teacher Agnes Stevens who volunteered as an aide at a Los Angeles school. When she discovered that numerous students lived at homeless shelters, Stevens and her friends, including Meek, began to tutor the children and experienced the numerous positive effects of their work.

Eventually becoming the executive director of the organization in 2009, Meek has helped to grow the outreach of School on Wheels and increase the number of children served despite challenges. The Los Angeles Times recently called the current homeless situation in the city “disgraceful”as a decline in affordable housing has contributed to the drastic growth of unsheltered children.

“What we want to do now is to have a bigger impact on each individual student in terms of the quality of the service we provide,” stated Meek.

In addition to offering tutoring sessions, students also directly receive benefits from the organization. Funds from School on Wheels help to give the children school supplies, uniforms, and scholarships. The organization has also instated a number of new initiatives, including digital learning and reading literacy programs, to help diminish the educational disparities among at-risk youth.

With the unrelenting commitment of their volunteers, School on Wheels is helping to pave a positive future for many youth.

“Their lives are just filled with inconsistency and instability and chaos, and so we want to provide a refuge,” said Meek.

“We want to be able to provide that consistency of caring and compassion and support.”

Read the article from m/Oppenheim here.

Apr 3

Tutors of the Month – April 2018

Region 5 – Hollywood, Silverlake, Pasadena:

My experience tutoring with School on Wheels has been my favorite part of college and, no matter how hard the week has been, that hour continues to be a bright spot.
– Kayla Williams

I chose to be a tutor because I think that the community can benefit from this academic support and our work has been very productive.
– Annika Moen

I choose to tutor with School on Wheels because I am committed to helping provide equal access to education for all.
– Clara Keane

I have had an amazing experience volunteering with School on Wheels.
– Ellen Prince

I have really enjoyed seeing the progress made over the year. There were some students who struggled with reading and to see them persevere and make progress has been rewarding. – Sara Woldegebriel

I love working with children and believe education is the ultimate tool of empowerment, especially for kids. I started volunteering for School on Wheels because I was excited for a chance to work with kids and because I wanted to give back to the community. – Dalia Quezada

School on Wheels is doing great work and we’re glad that we are contributing in a helpful way. – Manjun Hao

So far my experience with School on Wheels has been a very positive one. I’ve developed a close relationship with my student and I’ve really enjoyed seeing her reading comprehension develop over the course of our time together.
– Darla Howell

I choose to volunteer for School on Wheels because the value of education is immeasurable. – Gianna Zinnen

Skid Row Learning Center:

Shannon Moore – Shannon has been with School on Wheels since 2016 and recently formed a girls group, aged 10 and up, which gathers every Tuesday. They work on various emotional topics such as confidence, self-appreciation, and self-care.T he girls love it and look forward to their time with Ms. Shannon! In her own words, “From the moment I met my first student Rafael, I knew destiny was hard at work! School on Wheels has given me the opportunity to not only be a tutor, but a role model and friend to these beautiful souls.
Field trips in summer and birthday parties at the shelter have created irreplaceable memories that I can share with these incredible students for a lifetime. I’ll never be able to thank School on Wheels and my students enough for truly changing my life!”

Online:

Albert Zhu – Tutoring for School on Wheels has been a very delightful and inspiring experience for me. Helping my students understand and master what was taught to them in school has been very rewarding, and it always brings a smile to my face when I see them finally have their “aha!” moments. School on Wheels has not only given me the joy of teaching, but it has also allowed me to discover the need to sometimes put aside my own personal goal and desires to help others achieve theirs. If I had not known that School on Wheels tutored homeless children, I would not have thought for a second that any of my students were homeless, because once the label of “homeless” is taken away, each and every SOW student is just like any other student in the world—with the desire to learn, the ability to succeed, and the potential to shape their futures. I am always glad to put aside some of my time each week to help my students take control of their education and reach their future goals.

 

Apr 3

Students of the Month – April 2018

Online:

Ben (Kindergarten) – loves to meet with his online tutor each week. He doesn’t say much, but he loves practicing counting out loud and playing “Alphabet BINGO”. The School on Wheels online tutoring program is designed for students from 2nd to 12th grade – curious, focused, and delightfully engaged, Ben is a wonderful exception. Go, Ben! – Ian Chan, Program Administrator

 

 

Skid Row Learning Center:

Royona (3rd Grade) – Royona is a focused, quiet, 3rd grader who is joy to work with. She helps around the Center, completes her homework with zeal and has the sunniest disposition. Lover of puzzles, silent laugher, and Queen of Khan Academy; Royona has earned Student of the Month!
– Jason Wright,
Skid Row Learning Center Specialist

 

 

Region 5:


With every tutoring session my student continues to inspire me and remind me why education is so liberating, no matter how hard the week has been.– Kayla Williams

I have loved getting to know all of the kids and it has been a privilege to watch them grow over the course of the past 6 months.
– Annika Moen

The kids are so much fun and it’s been great to work with them and see their skills and confidence grow! – Ellen Prince

I have really enjoyed seeing the progress made over the year. There were some students who struggled with reading and to see them persevere and make progress has been rewarding. – Sara Woldegebriel

Nothing compares to seeing a child gain confidence and grow as a student, and we have all grown to love these kids and look forward seeing them every week. – Dalia Quezada

Working with the kids allows me to take a moment and focus all of my energy on someone else. It’s definitely tough but I really enjoy being a tutor! – Darla Howell

It has been amazing to get to know all of the kids and I look forward to working with them every week. – Gianna Zinnen

Mar 20

Students of the Month – March 2018

Region 3:

Lawrence (3rd Grade), Makiyah (5th Grade), and Legend (2nd Grade) – Lawrence, Kiyah, and Legend are three incredibly aware students with a wealth of intellectual potential. Lawrence is extremely passionate about civil rights and black history and dreams to create his own organization that provides support to the homeless community. Kiyah is greatly involved with comic books and video games and enjoys schooling her tutors on the latest comics and games. Kiyah is a science lover and could be the next author of a science-action comic book. Legend has a legendary brain to match his bright spirit. Legend is working on his focus and dedication to his school work, but there’s always time for a good laugh. The Henderson family is a strong constellation with each star offering a unique light. – Jack Ironstone, Tutor

 

Region 5:

Deemar (Age 7) – My current student, Deemar, has been the most rewarding and at the same time, the most challenging student I have dealt with so far. When we first met in September 2017, he was scoring around 10-20% on his spelling tests and was frustrated with the idea of learning how to spell. We’ve had good days and we’ve had bad days, but most importantly, we kept pushing forward week after week. I’m happy to share that he recently finished off 2017 with back to back 80% scores on his spelling tests, capping off a few months of steady growth. He is more excited about our sessions now, and I can’t wait to continue seeing him grow and become a great speller and reader in the years to come. – Jonathan Garcia, Tutor

 

Region 4:

Ariana (4th Grade) – I have been working with a sweet and lively 4th grader by the name of Ariana. Ariana is a lovely young lady that loves her three sisters, enjoys school and is very positive about life. Every week, she looks forward to what library books I will bring, as she loves to read to me. Recently, I asked to review her school planner and was so humbled to see that she even wrote my name in her planner on our tutoring day. When I recently asked Ariana what she would like to focus on, she wanted to do some science as her school does not spend a lot of time on that subject. So this week I brought supplies to do the classic diet cola and mentos experiment. Ariana and her sisters loved it! Now that I have discovered a fun reward (science), I plan to have a weekly experiment to positively end each session. I’m so glad that I have this opportunity to work with School on Wheels. It is such a rewarding experience! – Cathy Anderson, Tutor