Coffee cart aims to teach students valuable life skills
Open for business since April 7, Conant’s first staff-orientated coffee cart aims to provide students in the Special Education Career Prep classes with an opportunity for a hands-on experience of employment so that they are better prepared for careers in the real world.
The coffee cart is student-run and supervised by special education teachers Lauren Lombardo, Jake Schlender, and Dave Spizzirri. Implementing the usage of an app, all the coffee selections can be made and charged accordingly.
While working the cart, students sell coffee, make coffee, count change, and provide teachers all around the school with beverages for only $1.25 ($1.00 if teachers bring their own mugs).
Spizzirri said, “For some [students] the process is easy, but for others, they struggle with the money. We observe those who struggle, show them how to do it again, and they’ll only get better and better at it each week. That way they can learn all these basic skills in a common job. Skills that most of them don’t have when they start the class.”
He continued, “Some students in the career prep classes have a hard time just communicating with others. Something as simple as asking another teacher if they want a coffee could make a student freeze. What the program aims to do is slowly teach the students important skills in employment that they otherwise would not learn until put into the workforce years later.”
Lombardo said, “What we’ve seen at other high schools, and what spurred us to start this, is the success of the whole program. Students in these classes are learning important things that satisfy their special needs and help them prepare for what is ahead.”
“It’s always been about the students, and it will continue being all about the students. It’s great to see them improving so much, and the addition to Conant will make some feel much more confident in their future pursuits,” added Schlender.
While currently on a small AV cart with two Keurig machines, the coffee station will be much larger and more accommodating next year, and even have its own place within the school.
Spizzirri said, “We’re only taking baby steps now, but come next year we’ll have more machines, more coffee, a proper cart, and maybe some new additions as requested by the customers.”
Teachers can stop in on Tuesdays and Wednesdays during 1st period and enjoy a variety of coffee flavors being brewed, including Decaf, Donut, Chai Latte, and many more.