Posted November 6th, 2012 by Sally with No Comments
It’s not a coincidence that attitude is part of the word gratitude. At School on Wheels, we see children every day who do not have access to things we often take for granted like food, clothing and housing. Despite having to meet these basic needs, what is always clear is the amazing attitudes our kids have. So during this time when we reflect on what we are thankful for, we wanted to share with you the things our kids are thankful for. Thanksgiving gives us all an opportunity to thank our supporters for providing hope to homeless children. Because of your time, gifts and commitment to these children, they and we have even more for which to be thankful.
With sincerest thanks and gratitude,
“I’m thankful for all of the people in the world.” - Tyler, age 5
“I’m most thankful for friends and family” - Felix, age 13
“I’m thankful for my Mom” - Jasmine 6
“I’m thankful for lights, food, flowers and grandma.” - Cindy, age 6
“I’m most thankful to be alive and that I have all my family also that God loves me.” - Larrisa, age 13
“I am mostly thankful for the family and friends that I have today.” - Bo, age 13
“I am thankful for my tutor and her boy friend.” - Jamal, age 11
“I am most thankful for having my brother, sister, mother and father in my life.” - Sabryna, age 11
“I am thankful for my Mom and my family, food and lights, and tutors and the world. “ - Quanta, age 9
Despite their situation, our kids are thankful, most of all, for their loved ones!
Who or what are you thankful for?
Has anyone ever helped you when you were in a tough situation?
Leave a comment and let us know.
Posted October 4th, 2012 by Alex with 1 Comment
At School on Wheels we are very, very passionate about education and child literacy. So, even though Children’s Book Week in America is over 200 days away, we decided to get a jump on things this year and celebrate the English equivalent, which is celebrated in the UK October 1-7! Here’s a list of our favorites, assembled by our very own volunteers and staff members!
If You Give a Moose a Muffin by Laura Numeroff: This is a book that I always had and was always carrying around with me, whether to school or to my Grandma’s house, and it was so funny that I would read it again and again. I’m pretty sure I still know a few pages by heart. It reminds me of home, too. Plus, the pictures are pretty great. – Katie, School on Wheels Tutor, Julian Center
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein: A simple and beautiful tale with a timeless message for children and adults alike. True friendships last forever and ever, and it is in giving that we truly receive. – Sally, School on Wheels Staff
The Little Wombat books by Charles Fugge: This is a children’s book series I enjoy as an adult. Wonderful illustrations, simple but moving stories, lots of opportunities for children to predict what will happen next, and Little Wombat is just so darn cute! Even though he does get into trouble… um… rather a lot. But it always works out by the time the story ends! – Pete, School on Wheels Tutor, Dayspring Center
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst: This book taught me that things are not always as bad as they seem, everyone has bad days, and to find the humor or the bright side when things don’t go my way. Even though I felt for Alexander, I knew I did not want to be as grumpy as him. – Julie, School on Wheels Tutor, Wheeler Mission Center
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak: With mesmerizing art, an inventive story, a good moral, and just enough mischief, it’s a classic for a reason. Follow along with Max and let the wild rumpus begin! – Alex, School on Wheels VISTA
Heidi by Johanna Spyri: I loved this book because the main character, Heidi, did things that most people didn’t get to do. – Nancy, School on Wheels Tutor, Indianapolis Public School 14
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats: I loved this book! The simple pictures captured Peter’s adventures in his neighborhood after a big snow. As a child, I could relate to Peter because I loved playing in the snow, but the big kids’ snowball fights always scared me a little! – Karen, School on Wheels Staff
The Boxcar Children Series by Gertrude Warner: I remember my teacher Miss Baron reading The Boxcar Children in the first grade and I loved every minute it of it. It was about 4 orphan brothers and sisters who stumbled upon an old train boxcar in the woods and transformed it into their home. They had lots of fun adventures and came up with very creative ways to live and enjoy their new home. They helped each other as a family and each kid had a job, even an injured dog that they found and adopted had an important role in protecting them. Their lives change when they meet a very special person… but I’ll let you find out who that is when you read it! I hope you love it as much as I did. If you do, there are many more books to enjoy in the series! – Betsy, School on Wheels Tutor, Project Home Indy
The Ice Cream Cone Coot and Other Rare Birds by Arnold Lobel: I inherited this book from my sister as a child. Imaginative birds made from every day objects? Who wouldn’t want one of those as a pet? My favorite were the Buttonbeaks: If you look down upon your shirt front, that’s where they can be found! – Shalyn, School on Wheels VISTA
Snuggle Puppy!: A Little Love Song by Sandra Boynton: My husband and I have enjoyed reading this book to our daughters, we love the rhymes and rhythms of the book. Definitely a family favorite! – Laura, School on Wheels Staff
Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White: I like it because it’s about Fall (my favorite season) and the illustrations are really great. – Margaret, School on Wheels Tutor, Salvation Army Barton Center
Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder: I remember it being one of the first chapter books I read on my own- probably in the 2nd grade. It was fantastic to me how the story built on itself, one chapter after the next, always wanting me to read further to find out more. I felt a connection with “Laura” as she was about my age at the time. It made me very interested in what life was like back then, but also made it very real, as I could relate to her feelings at that age. And, it had to do with the Midwest of the United States which is where I am from. All these reasons made me feel very “bound” to the book and has probably been why they continue to hold a special place in my heart and childhood memories! – Mandy, School on Wheels Tutor, Salvation Army Barton Center
Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl: A magical journey of a sneaky fox and his friends as they try to escape the tyranny of the three mean farmers of the area, Boggis, Bunce and Bean. Not to mention that this quote adequately prepares any child for adulthood. “I understand what you’re saying, and your comments are valuable, but I’m gonna ignore your advice.” – Nick, School on Wheels VISTA
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown: My children loved this one; it was the book I always read to them! – Ed, School on Wheels Tutor, Salvation Army Social Service Center
Love You Forever by Robert Munsch: I remember my mom reading this book to me and even at a young age thinking it was a powerful message. Now reading it as an adult I have a deeper understanding of the message but can still hear my mom reading it and feel the same sweet, innocent feeling that I felt as a child. – Samantha, School on Wheels VISTA
Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey: This book is a classic. It was written in 1941 and one I enjoyed having read to me as a child. I loved the illustrations, especially the “bird’s eye views.” I read this book to our three children who are now grown, married, and have children of their own. Our children loved Make Way for Ducklings and always wanted me to read it “one more time.” Even though the illustrations look dated to young readers today, our eight grandchildren still love hearing and seeing the adventures of Mr. and Mrs. Mallard and their eight ducklings. – Jean, School on Wheels Tutor, Interfaith Hospitality Network
Did we miss one of your favorite children’s books? Add to our list by commenting below!
Posted August 9th, 2012 by Patti with 3 Comments
If you asked a teacher one of the biggest perks of working for a school system, this would probably be the number one answer. But as a borderline-workaholic speech-therapist rapidly approaching my first work-free summer break out of college, I thought, “What am I going to do with myself for eight weeks?” I went back to the root of why I became a speech language pathologist in the first place: I wanted to help students succeed; especially those who needed the most help. This is how I first learned of School on Wheels, which would help me continue my life’s passion… and feed my need for a summer project.
In 2011, I joined the School on Wheels team to help implement the organization’s first summer enrichment program, Show and Tell, within the homeless shelters they serve throughout the year. By the end, the students had all read a book of their choice, written their own stories, and participated in a photography course. On the last day, they visited an art gallery displaying their photography and bound, hard-covered books of their creative writing (which they constructed themselves.) I’ll never forget the moment the students arrived at the gallery and the expressions of pride to see their art work displayed for the whole city. It was priceless.
As this spring came to an end, I thought that I would finally try out this summer break concept. But when I learned that School on Wheels was offering another summer enrichment program, Know My Story, I couldn’t give up that opportunity. This summer, the students were able to share their story by creating self-portraits that visually communicated their interpretation of themselves in community. Positive memories were also shared through writing time with help from the Writers’ Center of Indiana. Using print-making techniques, students and volunteers hand printed self-portraits on green re-useable bags and published an anthology of their writing for distribution at local supermarkets. The students also had the unique opportunity to study under Bunky Echo-Hawk, a professional artist completing his residency with the Eiteljorg Museum.
For many of the students, they had never experienced going to a summer camp, holding a digital camera, or even having someone else want to know their story, let alone having their art work displayed in a gallery and studying with a professional artist. Not only did we offer these students living in homeless shelters several once in a lifetime experiences, we also helped them feel just like any other kid- possibly for one of the first moments in their lives.
Do you remember a time when summer programming impacted you as a child?
How does that experience affect you today? Tell us in the comments below!
Posted June 7th, 2012 by Sally with 5 Comments
Back in the spring I had the pleasure of serving as a mentor at St. Richard’s School for their Entrepreneur Academy. I spent one week with the junior high students reviewing case studies of new products to hit the market. We created a company and explored business plans, financing, marketing and liability of products that could revolutionize healthcare, agriculture, and the environment. It was an exciting week and gave me an opportunity to work with an age group that I truly enjoy. These bright students were given an opportunity to gain exposure to real product case studies, an opportunity most students don’t receive until college. I was absolutely honored when the Head of the Middle School asked me to serve as the commencement speaker for the graduating eighth grade class.
I reflected on the time I spent with the students and also on my own experience as an eighth grader. And I thought a lot about what message to impart on these teenagers as they close one chapter and open another one. I tried but could not get the traditional messaging surrounding enjoying high school, working hard, meeting new friends and preparing for college to work. So I sat at my computer and started to write what life lessons I know now that I wish I had learned at the age of 15 instead of 42. I spoke to the graduates about the building blocks that I think form a solid foundation for every day life and the forces that try to disrupt those blocks.
Using a well-known tale of the Three Little Pigs, I encouraged the students to build their foundation on three blocks: gratitude, passion and silence. I encouraged them to build a foundation so solid that when the Big Bad Wolf (who masquerades as intolerance, fear, cynicism, greed and apathy) appears he can huff and puff but cannot blow their house down. There are certainly many more building blocks in life and attributes of the Big Bad Wolf, but I thought it was a starter to a healthy conversation. I hope part of this message stays with them so they don’t have to wait another 27 years to discover it. That is my graduation gift to them and to any other graduates out there. The very bests gifts are ones you can pay forward. If you like the theme, you can read the entire speech, and feel free to forward this post to someone else.
What foundation is your life built on? If you had the chance, what advice would you give your eighth grade self? Leave a comment and let me know.
- Read Sally’s entire commencement speech
- Learn how School on Wheels helps homeless students develop foundations for learning
- Support the efforts of Sally and the hardworking volunteer tutors at School on Wheels
Posted May 30th, 2012 by Alex with No Comments
Here at School on Wheels, our staff and volunteers strive to help our students get the most of the tutoring hour. Sometimes this simply means giving them the help they need with their homework, but often it is much more.
In this video Autumn, one of our program coordinators, works with tutors to help Victor learn how focusing on his education can help make him a better singer.