In-school coffee shop provides real-life opportunities for Life Skills Support students
The Dutchmen Loft, a coffee shop with café-style seating run by the Annville-Cleona Life Skills students, is providing both unique opportunities and a source of excitement for A-C students. In the project headed by Life Skills teacher Jackie Mancini, the Loft was created through the school’s Dutchmen Education Foundation and its EITC program through a donation by Heritage Poultry Management System. The Loft is modeled from the experiences of other schools as a way of giving the students a means of gaining real-world skills which could be useful for future employment, while also providing a service to A-C students. Since September, these students have been learning valuable skills, including customer service, accounting and bookkeeping, ordering and inventory, grocery shopping, navigating a store to find items, and cleaning and sanitizing the cafe each day. Transition Specialist Mrs. Jen Grab said, “Studies show that when students with intellectual and developmental disabilities are given the opportunity to think critically, they build neurons in the brain that help with these critical thinking skills for the future.” Since the beginning of the year her students have learned to work on problems independently and as a team. Although not planning to compete with the local Starbucks anytime soon, the Loft boasts a rather impressive menu in spite of its small size – and there are plans to expand the menu in the future.