Justine, a parent of three students who have benefited from School on Wheels tutoring, was recently interviewed by RTV6 as part of a series of stories taking place during our #SharetheLoveIndy campaign. While so many news stories about our programs focus on students, this story was especially important to us since it focused on one of our parents – the person in a child’s life who has the best chance to make an impact on their education.
As I sat just out of frame and listened to Justine’s story unfold during her interview with Amanda Starrantino, I was incredibly moved. Although the news story was just three minutes long, RTV6 took almost an hour of interview footage with Justine. This hour that I spent listening to Justine tell her story reminded me of something important: School on Wheels’ impact goes deeper than what our staff and volunteers see each day. Today, I wanted to take the time to share a bit more about Justine and her family, as she is truly inspiring to me!
Justine’s involvement with School on Wheels began when she left her husband. She and her children lived in a few different shelters where they received tutoring support from us before she and her children found safe and stable transitional housing at Coburn Place Safe Haven. Coburn’s mission is to empower the victims of intimate partner violence to live as survivors, and this site is one of School on Wheels’ longest serving partners.
Our program is so successful at Coburn, thanks to their dedicated staff members who integrate School on Wheels seamlessly into the daily routine of those who live on site. Over the course of the interview, Justine shared repeatedly how incredibly helpful Ms. Teia (Teia Sherrell, Coburn’s Children’s Advocate) has been in connecting Justine and her children to School on Wheels services, including family literacy night that Justine recently attended with her children.
Justine has three children who are in seventh, fifth, and third grade. Her daughter Addie, the third grader, attends tutoring most regularly as the older children have extracurricular programs that often conflict with the tutoring hour. Justine said Addie looks forward to tutoring each evening and watches the clock until it’s time to go downstairs for tutoring. Justine embraced how much tutoring has helped her youngest child bloom and build confidence, but as I listened to her talk about her daughter’s and sons’ school work, I realized that a huge reason her children are so successful is because of Justine’s efforts.
During the interview we complimented Addie’s strong reading skills, and Justine expressed thanks to the school that her daughter attended in first and second grade for its focus on reading. Justine would practice with her daughter each night, working on reading speed and tempo based on the assignments the teacher sent home. In this instance we saw the dedication to education Justine had before ever encountering School on Wheels.
What really struck everyone in the room, though, was what Justine said next. When asked how School on Wheels helped her, not just her children, Justine spoke of the type of partnership we strive to have with every parent in our program. She said that when she was still with her husband it had been her responsibility alone to get the kids to school, help each child with their homework, communicate with teachers and attend meetings at school. Now that School on Wheels is in her life, she finally has a partner to help ensure all of her children have the support they need. Having three children with different homework needs and different extracurricular schedules is difficult for any parent. It’s especially difficult for parents, like Justine, who are working to rebuild their lives one step at a time.
Our programs are successful because we walk alongside every person we serve. We’re proud of our success with the children in our program and we’re equally proud of parents like Justine who realize the importance of education for their children and work tirelessly with School on Wheels at their side to help them achieve academic success.
Want to learn more about how we engage with parents? Click here to learn more about our parent program, Ignite Learning.