Randolph Savings Bank has given School on Wheels of MA (SOWMA) the opportunity to bring one-on-one tutoring services to underserved students in the Randolph area, by providing funding for SOWMA to open a tutoring site at the Randolph Community Middle School for its students who are experiencing homelessness during the 2014-15 school year. SOWMA delivered backpacks stocked with new school supplies to children at the start of the school year, and tutoring kicked off in early October.

Students like Mikayla, a sixth-grader working on a biographical writing project, benefited immediately from the new support she received from her own tutors, as well as others at the site.  Their encouragement boosted her self-confidence and helped her bring her work to a more sophisticated level as she prepared her written and oral presentation about singer Whitney Houston. Mikayla presented her work to her classmates with pride, and received the positive response that she deserved. Read Mikayla’s story.

Randolph Savings whole-heartedly supported SOWMA in bringing services to the Randolph community.  Says Richard Olson, Senior Vice President, Retail Banking, “The work School on Wheels does changes lives and the programs they provide—from their tutoring, to reading programs, to writing contests—all of those efforts are instrumental in helping children get back on track with education despite the obstacles of homelessness. We’re thrilled to partner with SOWMA on the opening of their new site at Randolph Community Middle School which will provide one-on-one tutoring to make a positive impact on the lives of Randolph families.”

School on Wheels began tutoring students at a new site in the Randolph Community Middle School in October. Sixth grade students were assigned a project where they needed to do a biographical presentation which included not only writing about the person and displaying pictures and text on a poster board, but also dressing up as the person during their presentation.

SOWMA student Mikayla chose to research Whitney Houston for her project. During her session, tutors worked with her to construct the writing element with pictures included. She saved her work on a flash drive that SOWMA provided so she could take it with her. "Together we worked on her writing, and several of us—two tutors, the school's homeless liaison and I—all brought in dresses for her to wear during her presentation," recounts Mary Briggs, the SOWMA Site Coordinator at Randolph. She chose an elegant black, beaded dress and Mary gave her a crystal bracelet to wear. "She was very thankful and went right for the fancy black dress!" says Mary.  Mikayla presented her project to her class on Friday, October 31.



"Everything that most people in America take for granted, I struggled to find. Homelessness not only stripped me of my material possessions, it robbed me of my sense of security and stability, and replaced it with unpredictability and fear. This made it incredibly difficult to maintain a job and continue my schooling. When I was introduced to the SOWMA High School Plus program, I was given hope of a better life, one where survival was no longer a priority. Thanks to School on Wheels and Father Bill's & MainSpring I not only have a 'place to stay' but I now have a home."

—Jasmine, Massasoit Community College Student

At 18 years old, Veronica was living at the MainSpring adult shelter, working hard to finish her junior year at Brockton High. Jasmine sometimes lived out of her car, while attending classes at Massasoit Community College. Debora couch surfed between 4 different friends’ places worried about where she would live her senior year in high school. National statistics predict less than 25% of teens impacted by homelessness will graduate from high school; 93% of SOWMA’s students graduate with 83% going on to college. This is a story about three young women who are determined to put homelessness behind them through their commitment to their education, housing assistance and case management from Father Bills & MainSpring, and one-on-one support from School on Wheels staff and their college mentors.


Project 351
- Stephanie St. Louis, SOWMA Program Assistant

Today, I attended the 2015 launch of Project 351, a non-profit organization fueled by eighth-graders providing a year of service, at Faneuil Hall in Boston. SOWMA founder and executive director, Cheryl Opper and community outreach coordinator, Dianne Sproul were helping staff register students in the morning, while also collecting books that SOWMA and another organizations were chosen to receive. I arrived in time to hear Bill Richard, father of Boston marathon bombing victim Martin Richard, speak. Following his speech, the 400 students were sent across Boston in groups to provide their services. During this time the special guests had lunch with Congressman (D-MA) Seth Moulton.

New Books and Games
Below is a picture showing all the items we were able to order due to a marvelous donor that had over 12,000 scholastic points to donate.  This donor is a previous 5th grade teacher that had been collecting points on her classroom scholastic orders.  She has since left the school and wanted to find a way to help School on wheels.  She gave me an order form which I was able to use to select 52 books, and 11 games for our sites to use.  This was such an amazing gift. 


Despite the challenges of being homeless and living with her family in one room, Sam is determined not to let it impact her education. "If anything, she feels she needs to work harder to prove something to herself," says her tutor, Jennifer Gold. "Her academic success heightens her sense of self-worth and empowers her." Sam surpassed her required summer reading goal of 3 books, reading 8 including The Book Thief and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. 
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