When we first began tutoring at our two Washington Township school sites, Greenbriar Elementary and Fox Hill Elementary, as part of our Hidden Homeless Initiative, our goal was to reach more students who are part of the “hidden homeless” population. Families who fall under the term “hidden homeless” are “doubled up” or staying with family members or friends and they do not have a home of their own. With the help of a McKinney Vento grant and the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust, over the last two years we’ve been able to work with families at these schools to learn more about them and connect with them on a deeper level.

In this blog, our Greenbriar Elementary Program Coordinator, Tonia, will share about a recent Family Fun night that was held at the school to help deepen the impact that we have with families in our Hidden Homeless program.

Sometimes, in the fast pace of the tutoring hour with the arrival of students, matching of tutors, passing out snacks and supplies, answering questions and then rushing to get kids in the right places at the right times for pick up, we forget that students go back to their families after tutoring. Monday, February 29th’s Family Fun Night Workshop was the perfect reminder that the School on Wheels kiddos not only have families that support them but care deeply and work hard to help them succeed in school.

The Family Fun Night was a joint effort between Washington Township, Greenbriar Elementary School and School on Wheels that was held at Greenbriar shortly after tutoring ended. Students helped set up for the evening and waited expectantly for their parents to arrive. While waiting, we practiced introductions and the kids modeled how to introduce their parents to School on Wheels staff members.

Art project

An example art activity

The pizza was probably the biggest hit with the kids –because pizza is always a fun dinner! While eating, the parents listened intently as we gave an overview of tutoring and the types of activities we have available for the students. Parents jumped in to participate in both math and language arts activities. They encouraged their students to come up with answers to math problems while playing our very popular Zebra Math game and worked intently, heads held collaboratively together, through an art project that included analyzing works of art. Parents and students worked together to share, talk about, explore, predict and think critically through the games and exercises.

The evening was the perfect reminder that we are all in this academic challenge together. Tutoring is a true partnership between parents, School on Wheels and Greenbriar Elementary aimed to help students succeed.

Our parents had great things to say about the evening:

  • “I think the program is a great essential tool to help children who need extra time to increase their skills.”
  • “I think it’s a wonderful program that helps my kids learn and do better in school.”
  • “Very helpful for all children and a positive environment. Boosts confidence in learning/education.”
  • “I love School on Wheels, it’s very helpful to the kids. It helps them learn not to be afraid to work with others or not to be afraid to raise your hand and give the wrong answer so you’ll know the right answer.”

Family nights at Greenbriar and Fox Hill Elementary are just one example of the programs that we hold for parents. Learn more about our other parent involvement programs here.