You see adorable pictures of our kiddos working on homework. You hear amazing stories from our tutors about the “aha!” moments they experience with their students during tutoring. What you don’t see or hear as often is the work we do with the parents of the children we serve. 

Did you know that we take an integrated educational approach to stabilize families impacted by homelessness by helping them overcome the obstacles that prevent their children from attaining the type of education everyone deserves? One of the ways that we do this is by helping parents navigate the education system.  We assist with school enrollment and determining school choices available for each child, mapping out school transportation options for families, attending parent-teacher conferences, working through Individualized Education Program issues, helping with college preparation, and providing workshops throughout the year to assist parents in developing the skills that will help them become their children’s best educational advocates. Maria, the mother of one of our students, Bradley, is the perfect example of why we do what we do. 

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Maria has watched her son Bradley’s confidence grow in leaps and bounds for the past 3 years. When Maria and Bradley moved into one of our long-term housing partners in 2014, Maria had concerns about Bradley’s reading level. As a first grader, he wasn’t where he needed to be and this began many meetings and conversations about how to best support Bradley’s education and help him get to grade level.

While Bradley’s tutors worked diligently with him at tutoring each day, together, Maria, Bradley’s teachers, and School on Wheels staff were working to determine how to help Bradley even more. After many meetings and conversations, we decided Bradley would be a good candidate for one of the IPS magnet schools, the Center for Inquiry. We helped Maria fill out the application and Bradley secured spot in the magnet school for his 3rd grade year. He has loved it ever since!

Two hundred and fifty-two tutoring sessions and 3 ½ years later, Bradley is a flourishing 4th grader who proudly passed the IREAD 3 last year! If you ask him about this, he will dab first then shrug and say, “Yeah, I’m smart.” Maria fills in all the other details about Bradley strengths that he doesn’t mention on his beginning of school year intake forms, including “His strengths are building, drawing, and dancing,” and “He is a hard worker and a fast learner.” 

Maria is the epitome of an encouraging, involved parent. She often sits in on tutoring sessions so she can learn ways to support Bradley’s learning. Through her example, she has shown Bradley and all the other students at this location the joy of lifelong learning. Through the hard work of Bradley, Maria, our staff, and his tutors, he will continue to find success on his educational journey, and we know that the rest of our students will too.