Science Comes to Tutoring!

Science Comes to Tutoring!

Posted October 9th, 2013 by Shalyn with No Comments

The week of September 23rd-27th officially marked our first Science at Tutoring Week!  During that week, three DOW Agroscience Ambassadors volunteered their time and worked with our students and tutors to perform hands-on activities related to DNA and chemistry.

The activities:

Phenotype station  Phenotype bracelets

Phenotype bracelets: Students learned about phenotypes – physical traits – and created a bracelet using colored beads as code for different characteristics, including hair color, eye color, and gender.  Afterward, students and tutors were able to compare their bracelets to find out what characteristics they had in common!

DNA extraction

DNA extraction from strawberries: The DOW volunteers taught our kids about DNA and how it is found in every living thing.   Students were able to extract DNA from strawberries by following a series of steps and were then able to observe what DNA looks like to the naked eye. They even got to take their DNA home with them!

Liquid snow  Liquid snow

Instant snow: Students learned about chemistry and polymers, large molecules made up of smaller repeating units called monomers.  They added water to an instant snow polymer and watched as the powder transformed into “snow.”

Our students LOVED the opportunity to perform hands-on science experiments.  Throughout the week, we heard kids say things like, “Science is awesome!”  “I didn’t know science could be so cool!” “Can you come back again?”

The best way to explain how our kids felt about the experience, however, is to let them tell you themselves.  Check out some of the letters our students wrote to the DOW volunteers:

Thank you again, DOW Agrosciences, for partnering with us to provide science to our kids at tutoring, and a special thank you to the Ambassadors who volunteered their time with our kids!

Excited by what you see?  Learn more about other groups who’ve given in creative ways.

Thank you for attending our Open House Celebration!

Posted September 26th, 2013 by Shalyn with No Comments

Thanks to you, our Open House Celebration last week was a huge success!  Over 85 tutors, donors, and supporters attended the event – it was so nice to catch up with old friends and to see some new faces!  In addition to touring the new space, our supporters attended an interactive presentation about our program and the challenges our kids face, created cards of encouragement for our students, and shared what they were passionate about for #PassionProject!

To make our debut even more exciting, Larry Blackerby from RTV6 stopped by our office to celebrate with us.  In addition to touring the new space and meeting our volunteers and supporters, he presented a generous donation to School on Wheels on behalf of the Scripps Howard Foundation.  Check out the news story from RTV6 below!

Thank you RTV6, the Scripps Howard Foundation, and all of you for attending the Open House and supporting our kids!

- To see the rest of the photos from the Open House, check out the Open House Celebration and Passion Project albums on Facebook!

- Learn more about our move.

Animals, Art and iPads: Summer Reflections

Posted August 14th, 2013 by Shalyn with No Comments

The summer iPad program at Barton Center was a huge success! Our students loved working on the iPads, and our tutors loved the program too!  Here are some thoughts and reflections on the program by our tutors and parents, along with some photos taken by our students:

amazon john

All children should be given the opportunity to work with technology, no matter their background, home life, or socioeconomic status because all children deserve to be given equal learning experiences. School on Wheels provides this opportunity for children that otherwise may not be given these resources. It is a wonderful way to teach ownership and responsibility while learning and having some fun too.  I’m very grateful for the generous donations that have supported the purchasing of one iPad per student for the summer and equally grateful to School on Wheels for opening the doors for these phenomenal children. And what I truly am most grateful for is the incredible experience, memories, and relationships I have gained throughout my School on Wheels journey.

- Wesley Warren, SEAT program tutor

During the summer program, the kids got better at reading, learned a lot about animals and made some awesome art.  Jason has become calmer and more respectful and I am using the ticket system to get the kids to do chores.  They loved this program and had so much fun here.  The best summer program they’ve been to.

- Jillian, Barton Center parent


I loved using the iPads and was amazed at how the kids knew what to do. They all loved taking pictures for the bingo board!  The art program was fabulous. I love the Apeels and hope that they and School on Wheels continue their partnership. I thanked Holly last evening for helping me to bring out my inner artist. I feel kind of bad that I probably had as much (if not more) fun than the kids did with the art.

- Melissa Seibert, SEAT program tutor

I think the summer program was a great experience for both the students and me.  Using the iPads helped us all gain knowledge and experience with them.  Working with Talia was awesome…she was always such a big ball of energy, made me laugh, and definitely made the end of my day brighter!  Some days were harder than others in keeping her focused; but she learned and made progress from using the iPad and Ticket to Read, and she was always so excited to show me her “toys” that she made with the program.  She loved the art program with Dave and Holly!  My favorite art project that I worked on with her was the superhero toy that she made – a British superhero (from Britain of course) with wings.

- Tricia SanNicholas, SEAT program tutor


I thought the summer SEAT program was awesome. The kids, the tutors and the parents all seemed to really enjoy the program.  The kids got such a kick out of using the iPads that they didn’t even realized they were learning. The tutors were so great working with the students on the new iPad programs, which was different then tutoring during the school year.  The “Club House” theme coupled with the ticket incentive program worked great.  The students understood the expectations, rose to the occasion and behaved well!  Both Amazon John’s animals and the art enrichment programs were great.  I thought  it was nice how that the parents and families could enjoy the animal program on Mondays.  Overall I thought it was well organized and engaged the students throughout the entire program.  You know it’s a success when the kids don’t want it to end. Let’s do it again next year!

- Ieva Grundy, Salvation Army Barton Center Program Coordinator

Inspired by our summer iPad program? Become a tutor or support our programs!

Guest Post: A Little Time Goes a Long Way

Posted July 10th, 2013 by Kurt Melin with No Comments

kurt and peyton

I started tutoring in January 2010 after being referred to School on Wheels by a friend.  I saw tutoring as a great way for me to give back to the community in a way I hadn’t before – by giving my time.  What I didn’t expect was that I would get as much out of it as the kids.  Since I started tutoring, Tuesdays have gone from just another day on the calendar to my favorite day of the week. I look forward to going to the Julian Center each week and working with some of my favorite students.  Nothing beats the look on a child’s face the moment they realize how to solve a problem that they didn’t understand going into the session or finishing a book they thought was too difficult.

Throughout my 3+ years as a School on Wheels volunteer, I have tutored at many different locations. Most of my experiences have been with emergency shelters, where students can stay from two weeks to two months. Tutoring this year at the Julian Center was my first opportunity to work with a student for the span of a school year. Throughout the year, I got to know and work with one girl in particular – a kindergartner named Sarah. When we started working together in the fall, Sarah had a hard time sitting still and listening for more than five minutes at a time. By the end of the year, we could get through a whole hour of tutoring and her spelling and reading had improved drastically. Being able to see Sarah’s development throughout the school year while building a bond with her solidified for me that the time I spend tutoring is worth every minute.

To anyone thinking about becoming a School on Wheels tutor, I promise that you will get as much out of it as you put in. It was one of the best decisions I’ve made and can’t wait for tutoring to start back up in the fall.

Kurt Melin, 2012-13 Tutor of the Year

Join Kurt and over 400 other tutors to make a difference in a homeless child’s life. Become a School on Wheels tutor today!

THANK YOU VISTAS! Welcome Shalyn and Samantha

Posted June 26th, 2013 by Kate with No Comments

School on Wheels has been incredibly fortunate to have worked with AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) members throughout the past three years. These volunteers have selflessly assisted in launching new programs, developing processes, streamlining technology and building the capacity of the organization.  They have collectively volunteered over 20,000 hours and have help raised tens of thousands of dollars to further the School on Wheels’ vision of breaking the cycle of homelessness through education.

As we complete our term with AmeriCorps, we would like to thank Nick Betzner, Alex Keys, Samantha Breeling and Shalyn Getz for their exceptional year of service to School on Wheels and recognize the impact they’ve achieved!  We wish Alex and Nick well as they leave School on Wheels for other opportunities.

We are thrilled to announce that Samantha Breeling and Shalyn Getz are joining School on Wheels as staff members.  As the organization’s Volunteer Coordinator, Samantha will be responsible for managing volunteer programs, communication and trainings.  Shalyn will be working as the Programs and Communications Specialist, providing programmatic support, serving as a Program Coordinator at one tutoring site and creating content for social media.

Please join us in thanking all of our VISTAs and welcoming Samantha and Shalyn to the School on Wheels team!

Kate Hussey, Senior Vice President, School on Wheels