Feb 12

Be My Valentine Event – Santa Monica Mirror

By Sam Skopp

For the 9th year in a row, the Santa Monica Bay Woman’s Club hosted a valentine making event, Saturday Feb. 3. inviting kids and adults alike to make as many Valentine’s Day cards as they wanted, with ticket proceeds benefiting educational organizations.

Susan Barri, who is a board member at the Santa Monica Bay Woman’s Club, explained that all ticket sales benefit Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation (SMMEF), and then the Woman’s Club in turn makes a matching donation to School on Wheels, which provides educational assistance to homeless children across Southern California.

“We’ve always donated to School on Wheels,” Barri said. “As of three years ago we included SMMEF.”

While a number of groups throughout Santa Monica host similar valentine-making events, Barri has found that what makes their event stand out is their wide range of materials.

“I think it’s evolved in the sense that we have more and more supplies,” she said, explaining how the event has changed over the years. “I think that no one has as many supplies and great things to make valentines as we do.”

Additionally, the event included a number of Valentine’s Day-appropriate sweets, and two musical performances during the daylong event, including by jazz pianist Gerry Bryant, on a Steinway grand piano.

“It’s a pretty amazing piano that’s part of the club,” Barri said. “The club is very centrally located. It’s easy to park, and in a special part of Santa Monica.”

For more information on both the Woman’s Club space, and upcoming events hosted at the Woman’s Club, visit smbwc.org.

Read the story from the Santa Monica Mirror here.

Feb 6

Student Valentine’s Day Art Projects

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner! This year, to capture the spirit, we asked our wonderful tutors to submit their student’s artistic Valentine’s Day projects. We received over 30 submissions of some of the most creative pieces of artwork. Our three winners are…
Mia, Age 11
Sheyla, Age 8
Cassandra, Age 11
We will be using Sheyla’s project for our annual Valentine’s mailing.
Thank you to all those who participated!

Feb 6

Tutors of the Month – February 2018


Aidan Stern – I see the impact that we School on Wheels tutors have on the lives of homeless students. Through online tutoring, I have been able to interact with students far beyond where I live, and I can fit tutoring time in spaces that would be impossible with regular school, work and commuting. These past few months I have watched my students gradually grow in their skills of complex arithmetic and grammar concepts. It has been very rewarding to see one of my students, Savanna, progress in multiplication. After just a few online sessions, we have progressed from two-digit multiplication to more complex compound multiplication. In-between her math homework questions, we take mini-breaks and play tic-tac-toe or do a maze. Getting to know my students has profoundly shown me the impact we all have on our students’ lives.


Sarah Lohmar – Although I have only been an online tutor for a little less than a year, I have quickly learned to love working with the students and getting them excited about learning. What is great about School on Wheels is that it focuses not only on education, but on inspiring confidence in students. I have learned that this confidence can be built in many ways, whether it be helping students realize they really do understand the material or by asking about their favorite subjects in school. Thanks to volunteering as a tutor, I get to help my local community and work with amazing, energetic students every week!


Region 5 – Hollywood, Silverlake, Pasadena:

Jonathan Garcia – My experience with School on Wheels over the past 2 1/2 years has been nothing short of amazing. I’ve been lucky enough to work with a handful of diverse students over this time, and although some days may be more productive than others, the breakthroughs we are able to accomplish more than make up for the struggles along our journey. I’ve been blessed enough to travel the world multiple times for a career that has been my dream since I was a teen, but in all honesty, the fulfillment and joy that I have cultivated from making a difference in these kids’ lives is far beyond what I could have expected. So much so, that it has led me to contemplate spending even more of my time giving back and helping strengthen the future of these kids that so desperately need it.


Alexandra Bendheim – I began tutoring with School on Wheels two years ago, after just graduating from college and at a time in my life where I felt particularly out of control. I wasn’t sure where my path would lead me, and for the first time, I felt out of my comfort zone. A colleague told me about this wonderful organization and thought volunteering would help to put things into perspective for me. She was right. I signed up to tutor the next day, and within the moment of meeting my very first student, Donald, my entire life changed.

Donald taught me about the challenges and trauma that kids in his position face every single day. He was a survivor, who had big dreams of playing professional basketball, and he was a poet (though he didn’t know it yet). Unfortunately, he left soon after. He will face tremendous hardships because there is a total lack of institutional support for kids like him, but with some guidance and extra attention, I am confident he will rise to his full potential.

After that, I made it my mission to be a mentor for other kids like Donald. As tutors, we get to be a part of a support system that can otherwise be lacking in their lives. Just showing up each week, we remind them that people care, and they can succeed. So I am grateful to School on Wheels, and to everyone committed to this mission, because every little ounce of positivity and kindness helps to spread the love and change the world.


Skid Row Learning Center:

Carla Gentile – I tutor because I believe education is the backbone of each child’s future. Many parents and guardians in skid row are facing incredible challenges daily just trying to provide basic needs for their children. To know that I am providing a tiny bit of support to these families in order to help them reach a more holistic life brings me joy and humility. I work with the young children ages 5-7. Helping them learn the alphabet, complete basic math and reading assignments alone can be a challenge. When we complete an assignment, we all feel happy and enjoy the accomplishment together! But there’s so much more to it: listening to the kids and helping them navigate their emotions, helping them stay focused and giving them attention that they might not get at school are a big part of tutoring for me. Being able to serve this community by helping a child to build their confidence and self-esteem is why I am here. The fact that we have so much fun doing this is just an extra benefit for me.


Region 4 – Long Beach, South Bay Cities:

Cathy Anderson – Cathy is a wonderful addition to the SOW volunteer team. She is always excited to tutor with her student Ariana and she loves to come up with different ways to make tutoring exciting and fun for her student. Cathy has a tremendous passion and love for tutoring. I am so lucky to have her tutoring in my region!

Feb 6

Students of the Month – February 2018


E’lon (5th Grade) – is a very determined student and sees the importance of his education for his future. When I started tutoring him, he had many issues with his basic math, but with his perseverance he has improved dramatically. With his hard work, I can see his improvement and success on a daily basis. One way in which E’lon has changed through online tutoring is that he has developed a constant drive to learn whether it be in math or science. Every day, he asks me to learn something new and this truly helps both of us as I also get the chance to learn something. Working with E’lon as an online tutor has been an eye-opening experience and his future is very bright.- Jishnu Basu, Online 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