School on Wheels is very excited to have Zeb from the Tutoring Solution host a workshop for our volunteer tutors this Saturday in Long Beach. I’m also happy to have the opportunity through his Blog to talk a little bit more about School on Wheels and spread the message of what we are trying to achieve.
I thought it might be helpful to start with some statistics from our website to demonstrate the need surrounding our mission. Over 1.6 million children are homeless annually in the United States. Families with young children account for 40% of the homeless population. Lastly, over 35,000 homeless youth are enrolled in LA County Schools, 12,461 in LAUSD alone. It is hard for most of us to imagine the obstacles these students face. Constant moves create gaps and setbacks in their education. Students usually move several times during the year, and fall behind 3-4 months with each move. At some shelters, families have to be out by 7am each morning, are let back in at around 5pm for a meal, and sleep on cots in one big room after lights out at 9pm. One of the students in our program had to literally hide in closets after lights out to finish work for her AP classes.
School on Wheels is a non-profit organization founded in 1993 by Agnes Stevens, a retired school teacher. The mission of our organization is to enhance educational opportunities for homeless children from kindergarten through twelfth grade. Our goal is to shrink the gaps in their education and provide them with the highest level of education possible. We do this by offering:
· One‐on‐one weekly tutoring with a volunteer
· Backpacks, school supplies and school uniforms
· A toll‐free number for students to keep in touch with us
· Assistance in school enrollment and locating lost records
· Guidance for parents in educational matters for their children
· Two learning centers, one located in the heart of Skid Row and the other in South Los Angeles
· Tutoring in seven major regions in Southern California, including Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino and Ventura counties
· Three annual scholarships and additional learning opportunities for all students
Our program serves as a consistent support system to homeless students and brings the message that they are cared about and important. We work with over 1500 homeless students during the course of the year, primarily through volunteer tutors. Tutors are matched one-on-one with a student and commit to working with that student for at least one hour each week.
I currently serve as the Education and Training Coordinator for School on Wheels, and am responsible for expanding resources for both tutors and students in the program. There is a great need to further educate our tutors to be more effective in their sessions, especially in the areas of motivating their students to take ownership of their education. It might be helpful to think about who motivated you as a child – your parents, or maybe your teachers or counselor. What if your parents were busy searching for housing, food, and a job. Maybe your teachers or counselor try to help, but they never really get to know your needs since you are only at the school for a few months. The further you fall behind, the more frustrated you get with school. Add these issues to the usual lack of motivation non-homeless students face, and you can see there are some big obstacles to overcome.
Our tutors are really looking forward to Zeb’s presentation which will address “Motivating the Unmotivated”. I know it will be a great help to them in working with their students. If you would like to know more about School on Wheels and how you can get involved, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.