Category: Star Volunteers

Feb 7

Tutors of the Month – February 2017

Region 1 – East LA:

Diane Lopez – Wanting to do something in the field of education, I would have never thought about tutoring homeless children. Sometimes people forget that homelessness is something that affects everyone, and children are not immune to it. I am so glad that I found School on Wheels because it fills me with such warmth that I cannot explain in words. Seeing my student smiling and growing in her studies keeps me wanting to make sure she gets the best tutoring I can give her. 


Region 5 – Hollywood, Silverlake, Pasadena:

Erna Taylor – I had just come out of an 8 1/2 year retail job at a scrapbooking store, and I was looking for something to do. School on Wheels caught my eye as an opportunity to work with children again. I had been a storyteller for many years, so this seemed perfect. I love words and books, and learning is very important to me. I also come from a big family, so working one-on-one with a child has been a great experience for both me and my student.


Region 6 – Inland Empire:

Deborah Myers – Education has always been important to me. Someone once told me, “Never stop learning,” and I took that message to heart. When I came across a notice for School on Wheels, it seemed like a perfect fit for my interests. I chose to work with high school boys in a group foster home. Even though their circumstances present a unique challenge, it’s especially thrilling when I can connect with a student to help expand his knowledge, and through education, help him to build dreams for a future.


Skid Row Learning Center:

Jesse Polen – Every Thursday, you will find Mr. Jesse sitting at Table 1 (a.k.a. Mr. Jesse’s Table). He takes on the tough but fun task of working with three or four 1st and 2nd graders at one time. Throughout this time, he not only helps the students complete homework but assists them in raising their scores. Mr. Jesse makes sure the sessions are fun, yet efficient, and is making a lasting impact on these children!


Online Tutoring:

Justin Helps – Tutoring with School On Wheels is a welcome change of pace after spending the work day in the world of adults. It is the highlight of my week. It is also very rewarding to see the understanding “click” for a student, and this has proven helpful to my work at Khan Academy. I’m honored to be involved with an organization like School On Wheels, which enables me to have this experience and know that the student benefits as well.

Dec 1

Tutors of the Month – December 2016

Skid Row Learning Center:

Daniela Elizondo, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Daniela Elizondo – I am honored to have Daniela as a member of our team! After meeting her, you would never guess that she was in high school. She is one of my most consistent and flexible tutors. We can count on her every Tuesday to come in and help any elementary student that asks no matter what the subject. She is the ideal role model and volunteer.


Region 4 – Long Beach, South Bay Cities:

Sheryl Luttrell, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Sheryl Luttrell – Sheryl is a dedicated tutor, and has been with SOW for almost three years now. She is always willing to jump in and help wherever is needed. It is wonderful to know that her students can count on her. Thank you for all that you do for SOW!



Region 7 – San Fernando Valley:

Maya McKeever, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Maya McKeever is such a kind, consistent, and talented tutor! I am so impressed with the connection she made with her student. In her own words, “I began tutoring with School on Wheels almost a year ago. I wanted to find a way to be more supportive in my community, especially within the scope of socioeconomic discrepancies and education. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to tutor every week, my student brings me a lot of laughs and learning experiences.”


Region 8 – Ventura County:

Kathy Jarman, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Kathy Jarman has been a tutor with School on Wheels for over a year, and as a lifelong learner she has incorporated a passion for knowledge and lessons learned from her own mentors into her sessions in an effort to inspire and encourage our students: “I have learned more from my students than I ever expected. My first student taught me that teaching, just like most things in life, needs to be individualized. And when it is done properly, it makes all the difference in the world.”


Region 12 – North Orange County:

Jacob Maldonado, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Jacob Maldonado – “Currently, I am continuing my education to become a history/social studies teacher. When I learned about School on Wheels’ weekly tutoring service, I was excited to take advantage of this great opportunity and gain more one-on-one experience with students. I am very grateful that tutoring with School on Wheels has given me a chance to enhance my teaching skills and to make a significant difference in a student’s life.”


Online Tutoring:

Catherine Luo, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Catherine Luo – “This was my first time tutoring and I’ve learned so much about how far a little bit of patience and constant encouragement can go. I’ve come to truly value education as a tool for empowering young students growing up in difficult situations, and I’m constantly inspired by how dedicated my student’s mother is to her daughter’s education. I look forward to learning about my student’s new endeavors each week and hope to continue encouraging her to achieve what she sets out to do.”

Nov 1

Tutors of the Month – November 2016

Region 2 – South LA:

Aliyah Souder has been a volunteer with School on Wheels since 2012. Aliyah made a video describing her experience tutoring Coreyon and his passion for learning.

Region 6 – Inland Empire:

Michelle Chebeir, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Michelle Chebeir – “Growing up with a hearing disability, I had the experience of learning with obstacles. I understand how a little support can go a long way. I volunteer as a tutor because I want to provide that support and encouragement to my students. I’ve had so much fun getting to know and tutoring my current student, Jenna! Her love for art makes our tutoring sessions very colorful!”


Region 9 – Santa Barbara:

Claudia Gack, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Claudia Gack – “I have been a tutor for two years, in the first months I was really excited and enthusiastic but I didn’t see much progress and did lose a little motivation. I stuck through it and am so glad I did. I see that Ariana improved a lot and that’s what really matters. As a tutor it is important to understand that continuous support is the biggest gift we can give our students. Even if it is tough and there is no instant reward – the long-term results are incredibly rewarding.”


Region 10 – South Orange County:

Deborah Woods Meyers, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Deborah Woods Meyers – “Working with my student had been fun and educational. Not only do you get to see your student grow but you get to see a family really rebuilding their lives and growing too. Sometimes I think I learn more than my student. Fortunately, my kid is in a stable home now. He is blessed with a mom who works hard to help her children overcome the difficulties they have been through. If you been thinking about this, VOLUNTEER! Just an hour a week can truly make a difference.”


Region 12 – North Orange County:

Richard Vela, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Richard Vela – “My experience with School on Wheels has been a truly wonderful experience. As a young man working at School on Wheels, my goal is to show that success can be achievable through hard work and dedication, no matter what situation, and no matter what circumstance. I have learned through my own experiences that mentorship can be a powerful tool, and I intend on helping the best I can as a volunteer with School on Wheels.”


Online Tutoring:

William Shin, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

William Shin – “I was looking for an opportunity to volunteer and work with children for some time when I found out about School on Wheels (SOW). The last time I had tutored a student was back when I was in college and I had forgotten how fulfilling it is to work with and learn from young minds. The online tutoring option is a wonderful option as it provides me with the flexibility to work around my regular work schedule and still be able to serve. The students I have tutored at SOW have been great. Kudos to the staff and my Coordinator as well for running an excellent program.”

Oct 3

Tutors of the Month – October 2016

Region 1 – East LA:

Alonso Quintero, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Alonso Quintero – Alonso has been a dedicated and consistent tutor since 2014. Not only does he help our students with homework, he chaperones field trips, hosts pizza parties, and plans science experiments over the the summer. “As a volunteer my intentions are to strengthen the sense of community in this large city.” He is always ready to help any way he can!


Skid Row Learning Center:

Farid Holakouee, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Farid Holakouee – Farid has been a tutor with School on Wheels for over a year and a half. He embodies the main traits for an ideal tutor: Consistency, commitment and flexibility! When Mr. Farid arrives at our Skid Row Learning Center he immediately asks, “Who needs help?” He is willing and eager to tutor kids of all ages and in all subjects. His impact is immeasurable and extremely appreciated.


Region 3 – Westside:

Sevag Salibian, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Sevag Salibian – “I was looking for volunteer opportunities in the Los Angeles area and after some thought, I came to the conclusion that helping children would be the most important work I could do. After 5 minutes with my new student Andrew, I knew I had found something special with School on Wheels.”


Region 4 – Long Beach, South Bay:

Steve Cox, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Steve Cox – “I grew up in a very supportive family that greatly valued the importance of both education and giving back to the community, and I love working with young people. So I feel really fortunate to have found School on Wheels, which has given me the chance to pass along these values while hopefully providing a little boost to some really great kids.”


Region 5 – Hollywood, Silverlake, Pasadena:

Tahiti Arsulowicz, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Tahiti Arsulowicz – Tahiti started volunteering with School on Wheels just over two years ago when she moved to LA. “I was matched with Lele and right away we got along. We still work together. This young lady is so strong, smart, and hilarious. It has been an honor to earn her trust. The best part was when she recently passed her Nurse’s Assistant exam, thereby setting off on the path of becoming a nurse. Hooray for Lele!”


Region 10 – South Orange County:

Ann Buckley, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Ann Buckley – “After I retired, I was looking for a volunteer opportunity where I could have a direct, positive impact in the community. There was something about the idea of working one-on-one with a student that called out to me. Tutoring is an incredibly rewarding and enjoyable experience. I look forward each week to spending time with a bright, sweet child and having some small impact on his ability to learn and grow.”


Online Tutoring:

Sukrit Patwardhan, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

Sukrit Patwardhan – “I have come to find that people from all walks of life value education highly, and that a person’s situation just makes them more resilient and determined which is true of my students. I enjoy the teaching aspect of it as well as creating a bond and rapport with the students. I am very grateful for this opportunity and look forward to continuing for as long as possible.”

Sep 1

Tutors of the Month – September 2016

Region 2 – South LA

– Christian Avalos. Christian made a video describing his tutoring experience with School on Wheels. In the video, Christian talks about how, after a big turnaround, he went from being the teacher to being the student.

Region 4 – Long Beach, South Bay

Janet Cho, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Janet Cho. Janet is enjoying tutoring her ball of sunshine, Paula. Both Janet and Paula are learning from one another, which is incredibly inspiring. It just shows that no matter what age you are, you can continue to learn and grow. Janet’s dedication, love and enjoyment for tutoring with School on Wheels are just the right ingredients to be our Tutor of the Month! We are very fortunate to have her with us. Keep up the great work!

During the beginning of this year, I often found myself messily tangled up into the complex intricacies of my daily routine. I decided that I needed to do an activity that would take the focus out of my own life and into something bigger than myself. What started for me as a means to give back has become an experience where I have gained so much myself.

Kristina Rakosh, Regional Coordinator

Region 5 – Hollywood, Silverlake, Pasadena

Michael Erzingher, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Michael Erzingher. Michael has tutored with SOW for about 10 months. He has been extremely dedicated and an excellent role model for his student Gabriel. Gabriel continues to do better in his academics, and it is definitely due to Michael’s help.

Tutoring with School on Wheels is as rewarding as it gets. My student, Gabriel, and I work together to implement creative, but fun, learning methods. I hope Gabriel carries what he has learned to his life beyond the classroom.. We teach each other; sometimes I’m unsure which one of us is doing the teaching!

Lancella Hunter, Regional Coordinator

Region 6 – Inland Empire

Megan Robbins, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Megan Robbins. Megan has been a dedicated tutor since February of this year. She tutors in the city of Riverside in a group setting. Although she is faced with many distractions, limited space available and a fast turnover with her students, she stays positive and makes each session the best it can be. Her positive attitude not only influences students but also encourages other tutors around her. Megan is extremely patient, creative, flexible and responsible. Her commitment to School on Wheels and our students is remarkable.

I became a tutor for School on Wheels because I wanted to contribute to the Riverside community now that I’m getting settled here. This type of service is a great fit for me because I love interacting with the kids. They challenge me to think creatively about how I’m teaching them. Something as simple as going over what a decimal is can be so rewarding when the kids and I come to an understanding together. It’s always amazing to see the dedication these kids have to improving their math and reading skills; they often sit with us at group tutoring despite the fact there are other kids playing around them along with many other distractions.

Marisol Farfan, Regional Coordinator

Region 7 – San Fernando Valley

Isaac Weingart, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Isaac Weingart. Isaac has been a dedicated School on Wheels tutor since June, 2014. During his two years of service, Isaac has tutored nine students! He is very patient in helping each student and is great at teaching math. Isaac stays in communication and logs his hours every week! A big thank you for all the help you’ve given to homeless students in need!

When I retired from teaching, I volunteered with School on Wheels because I want to continue positively impacting students. I love teaching math, especially Algebra, because the process of setting up and solving equations to find an unknown is very much like being a detective using all the clues provided to solve a mystery. I have enjoyed working with John this year and continually ask him, “What do you need to do next to isolate the unknown?” He, like a lot of students, wants to come to conclusions quickly, but is learning how to take things step by step to compose equations.

Brianna Grothe, Regional Coordinator

Region 12 – North Orange County

Katy Michaelis, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Katy Michaelis. Katy has been a passionate, dedicated tutor for over six years. School on Wheels is so fortunate to have tutors with such a heart of gold!

I have been a tutor with School on Wheels for six years, both in Los Angeles and in Orange County. I have worked in one-on-one and group settings, and I have been with my current student for three years. Building this relationship with Sunny has helped me grow and learn as much as it has her! She is an amazing young woman, and I love every experience we have together.

Trish Arias, Regional Coordinator

Online Tutoring

Jin Tan, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Brian Gray. It is an honor and a pleasure to award Brian with this month’s Online Tutor of the Month Award. I first met Brian at a partnership meeting at Harvey Mudd College while he was the Associate Director of Community Engagement and Homework Hotline Coordinator. Brian is now the Director of Tutoring at Columbia University in New York. Thousands of miles away, Brian continues to be a consistent, expert, positive tutor and role model to our students. Thanks, Brian. Keep up the great work!

My experience with School on Wheels has been nothing short of incredible. The students are quick to show me that I need to earn their trust, and that’s been a more than worthwhile investment. Volunteering can be hard work; it forces us as tutors to constantly re-evaluate and interrogate our privileges and assumptions, but that makes it rewarding. When I went back to LA recently, I got to visit the Skid Row Learning Center. Tutoring the students in person and playing basketball with some of the students I tutor online from New York was the highlight of my month.

Ian Chan, Digital Learning Coordinator

Aug 2

Tutors of the Month – August 2016

Region 2 – South LA

– Jaston. Jaston made a video describing his tutoring experience with School on Wheels. In the video, Jaston talks about helping Nicholas work on his resume and interviewing skills.

Skid Row Learning Center

Jiayi Grace Qin, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Jiayi “Grace” Qin. During the school year, USC sends us students through their Joint Educational Program to serve as tutors. This year, we were lucky that Ms. Grace was assigned to our group! After months of tutoring kindergarten students, Grace extended her role and became a summer intern. She comes in every day to help prep the room and snacks; then she spends the afternoon working with the kindergarten kids. Grace joins us all the way from China and we are honored that she joined our little corner of the world. When asked about her stay, Grace said, “Being a tutor here at School on Wheels helps me to get practice, self-cultivation, and actual experience. I am so glad that I can help children with their education.” We are glad too, Grace!

Allison Maldonado, Skid Row Learning Center Instructor

Region 5 – Hollywood, Silverlake, Pasadena

Diana Lee, Cameron Riefe, Alex Riefe, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Diana Lee, Cameron Riefe, Alex Riefe. This month we highlight 3 tutors. Diana and her twin boys Cameron and Alex. They have provided so much support to the boys at the Aguila house. They are definitely supportive tutors, who not only help the boys academically but connect with the students at the group home but finding different ways to engage, teach, and mentor the students.

Diana writes:
Tutoring teenage boys who are overcoming addiction at Aguila House is a rewarding experience. My sons Cameron and Alex and I visit weekly to help the boys with reading, writing, and math. If they don’t have homework, we help them write journals or cover letters for dream jobs. When they have specific requests, such as preparing for the standardized test to enter the military, we show them strategies to improve their knowledge and skills. One of the boys was interested in philosophy; so we read library books about philosophy and engaged in lively discussions.

As tutors, we also learn from our students; their life experiences and perspectives are sometimes vastly different from our own. Nino, for example, is extremely frustrated with the gentrification that is making his neighborhood too expensive to live in.

Lancella Hunter, Regional Coordinator

Region 6 – Inland Empire

Angela Zhang, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Angela Zhang. Angela has been a wonderful and dedicated volunteer since February 2015. Even though she is a high school student, she demonstrates outstanding qualities that not only make her a great role model but a magnificent tutor. Angela is responsible, consistent with her session, committed to School on Wheels and always logs her hours. She is currently tutoring two students at two different locations. Angela, thank you for all your hard work and dedication!

This is what Angela had to say about her experience as a School on Wheels volunteer:

When I first joined School on Wheels, I was exploring a future career path in education. I was a teen with no car, busy parents and surrounded by a wealthy suburban community. However, within weeks of having my first session with Cameron, my love of teaching was affirmed. Volunteering offers so much invaluable insight into the human condition that only occurs when you join two people from vastly different backgrounds and experiences. Because of School on Wheels and the students I tutor, I am a stronger, more open minded person.

Marisol Farfan, Regional Coordinator

Region 8 – Ventura County

Eileen Speer, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Eileen Speer. Eileen has dedicated her time to School on Wheels since early in 2016 and has worked with her student continuously since then. In her own words:

While searching for an opportunity to give back, I came across School on Wheels’ effort in Ventura County. I was looking for volunteer programs that would possibly benefit from my career experience. Last year having done homework with my two grandchildren, I came to enjoy creating opportunities for learning new things and especially new words. After looking into several volunteer opportunities I discovered that School on Wheels was by far the most organized and professional organization I had encountered.

Teresa Vazquez, Regional Coordinator

Region 10 – South Orange County

Brandon and Bruce Mann, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Brandon and Bruce Mann. Bruce and Brandon are a father-son dynamic duo. They have been tutoring together since January of this year. They have shown extreme dedication to their students over the past 6 months and have really gone above and beyond to meet their students’ unique needs. Brandon prepares diligently for each and every session, and they are both kind, compassionate and patient with each student. Their commitment to their students and to School on Wheels is extra-ordinary. We are so lucky to have them on our team!

I was an active volunteer in the community before School on Wheels, but felt that my actions were not going to have a strong impact on anyone’s life. When I found out about School on Wheels online program, I knew this was the program I was looking for. The students I have worked with, have taught me the struggles that innocent kids go through every day and that each student has unique strengths. Each requires a different approach, and they challenge me to find that specific way to connect with them. I love the excitement they have to strengthen their knowledge of a subject and their reactions to accomplishing something they previously believed impossible to do. It brings a smile to my face to see their boost in self confidence because they know they faced an obstacle and overcame it.

Lilian Pahn, Regional Coordinator

Region 12 – North Orange County

Chris Cole, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Chris Cole. Chris is an amazing tutor. Since the first time I met him, he has been extremely engaged, dedicated and willing to do more. His passion for helping and reaching children is incredible.

In his own words:

After just a few sessions with my first student, I was able to see how much improvement could be had with one-on-one tutoring. After asking another student if she understood the teacher at school and being quietly told, “No, we move around a lot,” I was reminded of how hard these children have it and how much help they need. It’s a shame that so many kids are falling behind due to circumstances completely out of their control. It’s good to see School on Wheels helping to alleviate some of the difficulty these students have.

Trish Arias, Regional Coordinator

Online Tutoring

Jin Tan, School on Wheels Tutor of the Month

– Jin Tan. Jin joined us in 2014 as an in-person tutor at one of our partner shelters in Compton. Since moving to New York City, Jin has continued to tutor with us online. Jin brings consistency, positivity, grit, and interactivity to his sessions. Often, you will find Jin and his student working for 90-120 minutes at a time! We are fortunate to have Jin on our team. His students are better off because of him.

In his own words:

School on Wheels is one of the few organizations that permits you to make a direct impact on children’s lives. Although tutoring over a computer does bring its challenges, the platform School on Wheels has chosen is incredibly powerful and accommodating. When I first met my student Briana, she was discouraged and unmotivated about school. Initially unresponsive to my efforts, she slowly opened up as we played a few games and drew together over the shared white space on the tutoring platform. She was soon eager to learn. Now she sometimes refuses breaks in favor of continuing the lesson!

Ian Chan, Digital Learning Coordinator