2015 Education Celebration Recap

2015 Education Celebration Recap

Posted April 22nd, 2015 by Claire with No Comments

We want to offer a huge thank you to the 400 people who attended our 2015 Education Celebration and to all of our sponsors who made our evening a success! We enjoyed a fantastic and inspiring evening.

Below is just a glimpse of some of the most memorable parts of the evening, thanks to M. Rinaye Photography.
Our speaker for the evening, Steve Pemberton, author of A Chance in the World: An Orphan Boy, a Mysterious Past, and How He Found a Place Called Home, shared his story of overcoming adversity as a child. His message resonated with everyone in attendance and many left with the realization that each of us has the potential to impact the life of a child in a way greater than we ever realized.

We were honored to present awards to many individuals and corporations who have made a huge impact in the lives of School on Wheels’ kids and the greater Indiana community:

2015 Corporate Partner of the Year: Dow AgroSciences
Dow supports our programs in a multitude of ways, including bringing Science Ambassadors to tutoring to provide children hands on science activities and helping us select the best way to incorporate science and technology through a generous grant.

2015 Philanthropists of the Year: Jan and Craig Royal
Jan and Craig have embraced the School on Wheels mission personally through gifts of financial and in-kind support, through their company that provides tutors, books, and school supplies, and through their family where son Dan has served as a volunteer tutor.

2015 Tutoring Team of the Year: Ernst & Young LLP
Ernst & Young has staff serving our students at both the Julian Center and Dayspring Center. Additionally, they led a backpack and gift card drive as a part of our 2014 #FallforSOW drive that pitted corporation against corporation in the spirit of helping the children in our city who need it the most.

2015 Tutor of the Year: Rita Novak
A former teacher, Rita believes we are all lifelong learners and has been a tutor since 2009. Rita goes above and beyond as a tutor and engages her family members as tutors, supporters and volunteers. She arranges field trips for our students and tutors at THREE locations every week.

2015 Education Champion: Dustin Ecker
The Education Champion award recognizes an individual who has devoted his or her time, expertise and focus in supporting youth and championing education. Individuals recognized for this award are nominated by community members in Indiana.

Dustin Ecker is a 2010 graduate of IUPUI and is currently a 4th grade teacher at Grassy Creek Elementary School in Warren Township. As a teacher, Dustin strives to reach out to families and build relationships that will extend beyond the classroom. Dustin works year round to engage the entire family in his students’ academic success with impressive results. Dustin received a $1,000 award that will benefit the students with whom he works.

SoW-CE15-PRV160School on Wheels youngest supporters were also honored at the event. Chase, a tutor for the past two years, and Robbie, who has donated his birthday for the past three years to raise supplies and support for our students, are amazing examples of how kids in our city are giving back in big ways. Emcee Rafael Sanchez even managed to get a picture with these young philanthropists.

Thank you, again, to everyone who attended the event and helped us celebrate education and the accomplishments of our students, donors, corporate partners and community members. With your generosity, we were able to raise over $200,000 to support the academic intervention programs that assist Indianapolis’ most vulnerable children.

Your support helps kids like Abby, a fifth grade student who was failing two classes during the first quarter this school year. But by quarter two, she raised her grades and is now passing all classes. Within one school semester, her GPA has increased from a 1.2 to a 2.3 and she continues to work hard and attend tutoring every week.

And your support helps kids like Danny, who has attended over 120 School on Wheels tutoring sessions in the past year and a half. In that time he has improved his grades from straight Cs to now all As and Bs. This second grader currently has a 3.5 GPA, has Outstanding behavior, and has 100% perfect attendance so far this school year.

Thanks to our sponsors for helping make this event possible:

Thanks to our Sponsors!

The Education Celebration may be over, but there are many ways you can get involved! Make a contribution to help us provide programs to more students like Abby and Danny or apply to tutor next school year!

Bringing Science and Technology to Tutoring

Posted April 15th, 2015 by Shalyn with No Comments

Since I began working at School on Wheels almost four years ago, the program team and myself have spent a lot of time developing curriculum. From the games in the Tutor Toolkits to the apps we have on the iPads, we’ve always worked hard to make sure that once homework is finished, the kids who attend tutoring are able to practice necessary skills through fun activities and games. The resources that we’ve developed have been heavily focused on math and language arts as these are the two subjects that students are most often tested on, but we found ourselves asking – what about everything else?

Over the last two years we’ve worked to expand our offerings beyond math and reading by adding new curriculum pieces like the Creativity Kit and offering enrichment opportunities in science at all of our partner locations. Dow Agrosciences has been one of our main partners in our endeavor to bring science to tutoring. Since 2012, they’ve brought their science ambassadors to each tutoring location and have worked with our students to complete hands-on experiments related to agriculture and DNA and chemistry.

DNA extraction IMG_0296

Each time the Dow science ambassadors come to tutoring, we receive an overwhelming response from our students – they love it! So we knew that we had to find a way to give our students more science.

This spring, thanks to a generous Dow Promise Grant, we’ve done just that! Throughout the winter, our program team worked closely with Dow scientists to figure out the best way to integrate science experiments with the technology pieces we already have in place – the iPads. Through this partnership, we worked to identify the best apps from a wide variety of scientific fields and the best hands-on activities to extend what they learned using the iPads.

Over spring break, we were able to bring together all of these pieces to have the science activities ready to launch at tutoring in April! Overall, we added nine new science apps covering a wide variety of topics including neuroscience, chemistry, physics and anatomy to each iPad and created four hands-on activities to extend what they’ve learned! We are excited to test out these new activities with our students and are happy to have Dow ambassadors joining us to educate students and tutors on these new curriculum pieces.

Some examples of our new curriculum pieces:

In addition to helping us extend our science curriculum, our partnership with Dow has allowed us to bring printers to tutoring and purchase additional iPads so more students are able to utilize them for homework and enrichment activities.

None of this would have been possible without our continued partnership with Dow Agrosciences. They have truly gone above and beyond to help bring science to our kids, and we know that this will have a long-term impact on our students! Thank you!

We have so many fantastic partners at School on Wheels! Learn more about them here.

Celebrate 2013/2014 Success!

Posted April 8th, 2015 by Claire with No Comments

School on Wheels students accomplish so many things each school year that it’s sometimes difficult to quantify. We serve children from nearly 70 different schools throughout Indianapolis each school year, and each school tracks successes and grades slightly differently.  It takes a long time to review all student grades and evaluate them to ensure our children are meeting the academic achievement goals we set forth for them. And we’re so happy to report that they are consistently meeting those goals each year.

Annual Report 2013-14Thanks to a partnership with United Way’s Bridges to Success program, we are more easily able to collect grade data for students in our program and share that information with you in our annual report. The 2013/2014 annual report can now be found online. It’s full of great results that demonstrate the tremendous impact that our supporters and volunteers help us accomplish each year in breaking the cycle of homelessness through education.

The annual report is just a snapshot of our overall success, but doesn’t shed light on the individuals stories of the children we serve. We are filled to the brim with stories about each of the unique children in School on Wheels programs and their individual accomplishments.

To follow along with their stories throughout the year, be sure to sign up for blog posts (to the right) and email, and join us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Thank you to all of our supporters and volunteers who make our programs possible!

Supporter Spotlight: Defender

Posted April 1st, 2015 by Claire with No Comments

The Indianapolis community pulls together in so many ways to make our city stronger and to help children experiencing homelessness achieve academic success by supporting School on Wheels. This support includes volunteer tutors, individual donors and corporate supporters. Today we highlight 2015 Education Celebration co-presenter, Defender, for their history of generous support.


Defender has been a tremendous supporter of School on Wheels since 2011. We are proud to be supported by the community-minded individuals at Defender, a company that exists to grow leaders. According to Defender, the principles that it teaches and the generations imprinted with those lessons will endure. School on Wheels has been fortunate to see that imprint first hand.

Not only is Defender a presenting co-sponsor of the 2015 Education Celebration – a truly generous role that helps fully underwrite the costs of the event so that all ticket proceeds go to directly supporting School on Wheels programs, but they are actively involved in so many other facets of our organization.

Defender has had a presence on our board since 2013 with Scott Galovic, Vice President of Accounting & Controller, currently representing the organization as a new board member. In addition to providing active board members, Defender also has a dedicated tutoring team that supports our children at Coburn Place Safe Haven once per week.

Not only does Defender support School on Wheels programs with financial and volunteer support, but it ensures School on Wheels gets additional employee recognition and support by inviting us to be a part of their Super Service Challenge kickoff event so that all of their employees can learn more about opportunities to get involved with School on Wheels.

Thanks to Defender for creating full circle support for School on Wheels and our academic intervention programs for children experiencing homelessness. It’s because of supporters like Defender that we are able to equip the children we serve with the tools necessary to break the cycle of homelessness through education.

You can help support our kids by attending the 2015 Education Celebration! Save the date for April 16 at The Crane Bay Event Center. Due to Defender and BMO Harris Bank, our event co-presenters, 100% of ticket proceeds directly support the programs the impact the children School on Wheels serves.

Tickets for the Education Celebration are on sale! Learn more about the event or sign up for our e-newsletter, Chalk Talk, to receive additional information about how to get involved with School on Wheels.

Video: The Difference between ADD & ADHD

Posted March 25th, 2015 by Shalyn with No Comments

Why Can't Jimmy Sit Still?Back in October, we held a Tutor Conversation: Tips for Working with High Energy Children, led by School on Wheels tutor Sandra Tunis (check out some of the top tips we learned from the conversation here). Since then, our program team has been hard at work creating a three-video series that addresses the most frequently asked questions we receive from tutors about working with students with high energy or ADHD.

Below is the first of the videos in our new series, Tips for Working with High Energy Children. In this video, we answer the popular question: What is the difference between ADD & ADHD? Watch to find out the answer!

Sources for this video include articles about ADD and ADHD from Healthline.com and the National Center for Learning Diabilities.

Stay tuned for the next videos in the series:
Part 2: How to relate to students with high energy
Part 3: How to best set up the tutoring hour for students with high energy

Too impatient to wait for the next video in the series? Check out our other Tutor Tips videos! Did you find this video helpful? Leave a comment below!