Serving Up Coffee With a side of Life Skills
The Shaker Schools Foundation partners with the Veale Youth Entrepreneurship Forum to support entrepreneurial ventures for our students. One example of that grant funding at work is a popular student-operated coffee cart at Shaker Heights High School.
Two days per week, the students in the multiple disability units at Shaker Heights High School team up with peers who are enrolled in the financial literacy class to sell coffee to staff members throughout the building.
Intervention Specialist Kim Roberts helped launch the entrepreneurial venture at the beginning of the 2018 -19 school year as a way to bolster the skills her students will need when they leave the High School. Those include math skills, like counting, sorting and taking inventory, along with social skills like communicating with customers.
“The goal is for them to use these skills in a real-world setting someday,” says Roberts.
At the beginning of the year, the students surveyed staff members about their coffee preferences and hosted a taste-testing in their room. The general education students helped design a logo, organize the room and helped to develop an online order form for the staff to use.
On coffee cart days, Roberts’ students know to check their assignments and grab their aprons as they get ready to deliver coffee, tea, danishes and muffins to their customers. They rotate jobs as greeter, server, barista, cashier, accountant, stocker, custodian and manager. The Veale grant funding helped them to upgrade their coffee maker and covers the cost of the coffee, aprons and other supplies.
“The one thing they love more than anything is delivering and interacting with the teachers and staff,” she says. The students who are nonverbal can communicate using augmented communication devices. The students were also proud to donate their proceeds this year to after-school clubs at the high school.
Due to its popularity, the coffee cart business will expand to five days per week next year and will unveil a new branding scheme developed by the financial literacy students: Raider Roasts.
Proceeds from the coffee cart will be used to support field trips for special education students.
Funds from the Veale Youth Entrepreneurship Forum have also helped students to create or expand their own photography and videography businesses, start a lawn care business and work with a new embroidery machine at the high school.
The Innovative Center: Another Pathway to Success
Says Dawn Sizemore, a 1999 Shaker graduate and coordinator of the IC, “The IC offers a variety of non-traditional learning experiences for students. We develop relationships with them so that they know they have an advocate for their success, now and in the future.”
Students at the IC can take advantage of Blended Learning Labs, which offer personalized learning through a combination of online coursework and tutoring. IC students also have opportunities to improve their job readiness by cross-enrolling in career and technical prep programs at two local high schools.
“The setting is just small enough that we can be really effective and have the flexibility to meet their individual needs,” says Sizemore.
Meet Four Students from the IC
Miles, Current student – During his freshman year at Shaker Heights High School, Miles was missing a lot of school due to anxiety. This caused him to fall behind in his classes – producing more anxiety. “I tried online learning at home, but it just wasn’t working for me,” says Miles. “It’s easier to do the work here because it’s a work environment and I feel compelled to do it, and it’s open and bright in here. The teachers are very helpful.” Miles also likes being able to work at his own pace, working ahead in subjects that interest him, like math. “I’m excited to take Honors Algebra,” he says. His career goal is to become an architect or engineer.
Christian Guess, SHHS ‘18 – Christian, a standout basketball player at Shaker Heights High School, struggled academically and socially when he first transferred to Shaker as a sophomore – causing him to sit out the first half of the season. Upon his coach and guidance counselor’s recommendation, Christian enrolled in the IC, where over the next two years he improved his GPA to a B average and earned a qualifying ACT score for the NCAA. In his senior year at Shaker, Christian set the high school’s single-game scoring record with 57 points. Now, he’s enrolled at the University of Missouri where he plays for the basketball team.
Chinarra, Current student – Chinarra came to the IC as a sophomore because she was struggling in several subjects. “The High School was too chaotic for me and there’s too much drama. Being here is like home; it feels like a meditation room, and my grades are better.” Chinarra is pursuing a two-year degree in cosmetology at the same time she completes her high school coursework so that she can graduate on time with her class. Her goal is to operate her own salon one day.
Kailah Wilson, SHHS ‘18 –For Kailah, completing her high school education at the IC helped pave the way for her to pursue bigger dreams. She now plans to enroll in The American Musical Dramatic Academy in Los Angeles after completing her associates degree in the arts from Tri-C.
“The IC was the best fit for me because it allowed me to be able to collaborate with other students and become friends with people I had never thought I would be friends with. I formed actual relationships with teachers which was something I struggled to do before coming to the Innovative Center,” says Kailah.
Kailah’s longer-term goal is to earn a degree in psychology with a focus on teen depression and eating disorders. “Before coming to the IC I was scared to allow myself to be vulnerable to my teachers and be open about my weak spots academically,” says Kailah. “I learned that it’s okay to need help.”
Lomond LEGO Robotics Takes Off!
The Shaker Schools Foundation is committed to providing hands-on learning opportunities for all Shaker students, with a particular emphasis on STEAM initiatives.
Barbara’s Story: Making Connections and Building Community
“Deciding to enroll in Shaker’s First Class was a big decision for us. Coming from a private school, we weren’t sure if we would get as much communication as we were used to, and it was the first year of a new program.The program has by far exceeded our expectations, in terms of the rich content and the diversity of the class, both of which were very important to us. We’ve gotten to know the other parents at events at school as well as through field trips to the Natural History Museum and Museum of Contemporary Art.
I love the idea of teaching the kids holistically; it’s more about understanding the world around them, not just memorization.The children are more than ready for Kindergarten – they all know their numbers and their letters, and they can handle a daily school schedule. Just as important, we wanted to be sure that Grace was in a place where she learns to be a good person, and I think that’s what IB is all about.
Grace talks a lot about her community and understanding the world around her. She sees a sign with an “H” and knows that’s for a hospital. She recognizes the post office and the library. And they’re also making connections with one another. I loved the unit they did on “how we are alike and how we are different.” At three years old, they don’t really see the differences between boy and girl or the color of their skin. But just as they are starting to notice those things, we are teaching them to be accepting of those differences. Talking about it up front is really huge for me.”
– Barbara Fedor, Shaker parent
Shaker’s First Class is one of many initiatives the Shaker Schools Foundation is proud to support by helping to secure funding from outside partners. Those partners include other Foundations, corporations and private donors.