At School on Wheels, our goal is to improve the educational outcomes of students experiencing homelessness. That’s why this school year we’ve changed up our staffing model to allow our staff members to delve even further into the education needs of the 400+ students we serve every year.

In our old staffing model, our Program Manager, Erin, oversaw our Program Coordinators (PCs) who run tutoring while providing support to all of them throughout the school year. In our new model, Erin and another of our staff members, Karen, have moved into new Education Manager positions that both provide full­-time support to our 10 part-time Program Coordinators.

karen and erinAlong with serving as the liaison between School on Wheels and its 13 partner locations, our Education Managers help each Program Coordinator identify the needs of children and parents at our locations and create individualized intervention paths for families. So far this year, our Education Managers have already helped families choose schools that are a better fit for their children, taken them on school visits, helped students receive McKinney-Vento services and so much more.

By spending more time with each family, Karen and Erin’s new roles enhance our capacity to expand both the depth and reach of our programs. This shift in staffing is the first step in deepening School on Wheels’ impact for those in need, and is the first of many changes to come!

Today we hear from Erin about how her new Education Manager role has allowed her to deepen her impact with the families we serve!

1. How has your job changed in your new role? 

The most important change is now that I manage just half of the sites and PCs, rather than all of them, I have more time to dedicate to the families we serve.

2. What impact is your new role having on the families we serve?  

My new role as Education Manager allows me to go into the shelters more, and work with the PCs closer on the needs of the students and their families. The term that has been used around the office is “dig in deeper” and we are definitely able to do that now.

3. Can you share one of your favorite tutoring stories from this year so far that shows the impact that the Education Manager role is having?

One of the things I’ve noticed since first working at School on Wheels as a Program Coordinator is that many families who find themselves homeless in Indianapolis struggle to choose a school for their child. Some of the families we serve are already from Indianapolis and because of the McKinney-Vento Act they are able to keep their kids in the school where they started the year. This is great.

However, there are also many families that we serve who come from other cities in the state, and many times completely different states. There are so many school choice options that it is overwhelming for these families to evaluate all their options when they are dealing with MUCH bigger issues, like finding shelter. In my new role, I am now able to go into shelters, meet with parents about options for their kids, and help to get them enrolled in schools that they feel positive about. I have done that multiple times this year at our emergency shelters.

I am working with the family of an adorable little Kindergartner right now whose family is looking for a magnet program to fit his needs.  We have him applied now and are waiting to hear from the district!  Mom was SO happy to get that done. I can feel a weight come off these parents when we find a good spot for their children and get them enrolled.

Want to know more about our programs and how we engage the entire family? Click here to learn more about Ignite Learning.