October 10, 2012 - Every morning at Washington Middle School, one can hear the cart come rolling down the halls and smell the freshly brewed coffee.
The Eagle's Nest Coffee Cart is a welcome sight for teachers who need a quick jolt of caffeine or a chilled can of soda, according to a news release.
But the Coffee Cart is much more than a beverage and snack service. The students who operate the cart are part of the Special School District classrooms at Washington Middle School.
Carla Coats, an SSD teacher who coordinates the Coffee Cart activities, stated in the release, "We pair a child who is a bit more social with a child who is more structured. The two who are working that day have to wash their hands so we are very clean.
"They have to stock the cart with sodas. They need to put the coffee on. They need to make sure that we have all the creams and that the cart is clean."
Each of the preplanned steps gives the students an important lesson on following directions, making correct change and providing good customer service, according to the release. Those skills will help get these middle school children prepare for jobs during or after high school. And working on the coffee carts gives special education students a chance to spend time with the general school population.
"This has allowed them to get in there and break down that barrier by saying, 'Hi, how can I help you?' when they meet those teachers and so they are becoming more relaxed," Coats stated.
All the money raised through the sale of coffee and snacks is used to fund other SSD community programs, such as helping students with their social skills by taking them out to the grocery store or a movie theater.
"Every parent's want and goal is to have their children live independently or with assistance," Coats stated. "That's what we are doing here. We are providing that structure."