Students run coffee shop for high school staff

Senior Ashley Shaw pulled up the drink orders that were placed online this morning and senior Qua’Shaun Lawson removed the “Sorry, We’re Closed” signs from the front of the coffee machines in Room C212. Class was about to start and the students were already getting to work. 

The students enrolled in the Community Based Vocational Instruction (CBVI) program at Pattonville High School run a coffee shop for staff members who can place orders online and have it delivered every morning during second hour. Staff can choose the coffee, tea, hot chocolate or soda flavor they want and request any extras like creamer and sweetener. The cost is just $1 per item.

The coffee shop opened in 2017 and Special School District teacher Carrie Cobb said the students are learning important job skills. 

“They have to have a high level of independence and be able to take direction well,” she said. “There are times when we might have more than three coffee orders and it gets really busy, so they really have to be able to have good time management skills, and there’s the money management of it, too. There’s also the reading and writing skills they are gaining.”

Students in the CBVI program work in the coffee shop or are placed into other groups that might deliver mail, clean whiteboards or return books to the library. 

“The students learn to work as a team,” Cobb said. “When issues arise, it really forces them to communicate with each other and learn new skills."

Lawson likes working in the coffee shop and delivering the drinks to his customers.

“I work in a coffee shop because Ms. Cobb taught me how to make coffee and I’ve been getting better at it,” he said.

Shaw is the director of finance for the coffee shop.

“I send an email every week telling people how much money they have on their teacher tab balance because some teachers like to pay ahead.”

Cobb said the program is helping students gain hands-on experience and off-campus opportunities at the YMCA are also available.

“They’re gaining knowledge that will help them for their beyond-high school careers,” she said. “They’re learning job skills and are preparing themselves for the future. They’re not just sitting down in a classroom.”

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