We always say that tutoring changes two lives: a child’s life and your life. Never has this been more evident to me than with my daughter. School on Wheels has been a part of Julia’s life since I started working here eight years ago when she was ten years old. At age eleven she began tutoring with me. Often times, we would jump in to tutor at shelters that had an influx of families and needed an extra set of hands. On the ride home Julia would share a story about the child she tutored; a challenging math problem they solved; a cute thing her student said; or she would wonder anxiously about what was going to happen to the child she was tutoring and where they were going to live.
Since being in high school, she has driven to her assigned shelter on her own after school. Working with children who are just like any other children, but who are without stable homes, has allowed her to connect to children and families she would otherwise never know. It has given her a better understanding of the world, poverty, education, and homelessness. She knows first-hand that we have to do more and do better for ALL children in our community. One is never too young to begin to make a difference. With the right support and a strong education these kids will experience a much brighter future. Below is an essay that Julia wrote describing her School on Wheels experience.
She slouches in her chair; the doodles on her hands smudge the pages as she flips them; her wide eyes struggle to make sense of the letters in front of her because she simply cannot read. But, it’s not her fault. Her family has moved around from one homeless shelter to the next for as long as she can remember. She was the first child I ever tutored.
For me, tutoring through School on Wheels is more than helping with homework: it is creating stability and joy in a life otherwise filled with hunger, stress, and anxiety. These children are living under difficult conditions. They are faced with the challenge of completing homework without privacy or quiet space. Getting attention is difficult when their parents are out working or job hunting. Staying in one school is practically impossible with unstable housing.
This is where volunteer tutors step in. I love being a friendly face: connecting during snack time, creating writing prompts, playing educational games, and talking through their homework step-by-step. There is nothing more fulfilling than helping a student understand a concept or get a good grade. Developing a love of knowledge and being successful academically will help these children experiencing homelessness to overcome their situation and succeed in life.
At such a young age, these children are forced to worry about adult concepts that most children in my community take for granted: food, money and where they will be sleeping at night. I try to help these children have fun, focus on creativity, and learn. Connecting with them for an hour of one-on-one attention not only improves their confidence, but forms a positive connection towards education and achievement. And education is their biggest opportunity to break the cycle of poverty.
You’re never too young or too old to tutor and to make a difference. Apply to tutor today.