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SOWMA Student Returns to Tutor & Mentor Younger Kids

For a dozen years, we at School on Wheels have watched with familial pride as our students rise above the challenges of homelessness to excel academically and create opportunities for themselves to succeed in school and in life. Whenever a student returns to SOWMA as a volunteer tutor to “pay it forward” by encouraging younger students to focus on their education, we couldn’t be more proud. Lena, once a SOWMA student herself, is a recent college graduate who has returned to SOWMA to tutor 10-year-old Devon.

Lena and Devon have been working together for more than a year. Devon loves learning; he's always asking questions and doing research on the internet. He loves history and has a great knack for story-telling. In fact, last year he was a winner of SOWMA’s writing contest, which makes both Devon and his tutor very proud.

Devon’s self-confidence, coupled with Lena’s commitment to his success, has allowed him to flourish. Lena admires Devon’s honesty, integrity and self-confidence, all of which he demonstrates regularly. “Early on, he was shy about telling me when he did well on a test or won a spelling bee at school, but now it's the first thing I hear about when we begin tutoring each week,” Lena says. She feels that confidence is one of the most valuable qualities a person can have. “I wish I had as much confidence when I was his age!” she says. “I really think confidence is one of the most important components of success, so I predict great success in Devon's future.”

One of Devon’s biggest academic challenges is his reluctance to admit he doesn't understand something, but he and Lena have developed such a positive rapport that they have been able to work around this obstacle. “He reported he'd been doing great in school,” says Lena, “but when his report card came, it reflected that he might not understand as much as he let on. I explained that it's important for him to let me know when he doesn't understand something, so we can work through it together. He's always willing to work through difficult school problems with me, so I know he can do it!”

Lena’s experience tutoring Devon has been an opportunity for her to pay it forward. “School on Wheels helped me out years ago, when I was in high school. Later, during my senior year, I volunteered and fell in love with the program and everything it stands for,” she says. During college, her class schedule prevented her from tutoring, but after graduation, she returned to help. “I look forward to every single Thursday night. I talk with my friends about each session, and frequently share my wonderful experiences on Twitter. I always look forward to hearing about Devon's week and working with him.”

“I asked Devon what he wanted to be when he grew up,” says Lena. “He answered that, first he wanted to be a judge, then a lawyer, then a governor, then President, and after that, a mayor and then a businessman. He might need to switch the order around a little bit, but with his confidence and his ability to learn new things, I don't doubt that he can do it. I can't wait to see what he accomplishes as he grows older.”

Students like Lena return to build new relationships and build on the success they have found through their own involvement with SOWMA. In doing so, they create a cycle of empowerment and help to make great strides toward breaking the cycle of homelessness.

Math Super Power

--Devon, 2015 Writing Contest winner grade 4, Evelyn House

One day, my class went to a math competition. They asked a high school question. I rang the buzzer fast like a lightning bolt. Excellent! I got the correct answer! My teacher was very proud and I said in my mind I got math super powers. Then we were in the final four facing fifth graders. We dominated our opponent. We were in the final three facing middle schoolers and we won again. We were in the final two against the high schoolers. We won again. We were in the finals facing the super math genius college students. I felt like I had butterflies in my stomach. Then, they asked, “What does 3,000,000 x 12,000,000 equal?” I shouted, “36 trillion!” and the crowd went while! We won $430 trillion and we felt very generous, so we bought a zoo.
When I had that math super power, I felt like a super hero.

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United Way of Greater Plymouth County

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School on Wheels - MA
100 Laurel Street
Suite 121
East Bridgewater, Massachusetts 02333


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