"It's fun. I learn how to make coffee," shares Claudine Gaillard, a student at West Hills in the FRP classroom. For over a year, FRP (Functional Resource Program) students have been making and delivering coffee for West Hills staff, spreading coffee and smiles around the building.
FRP teacher Amy Reed shares, "Claudine Gaillard is our resident coffee maker this week. Dean Clugh is on delivery this week, and helps with the cream and sugar. Sean Konoya helps with the cream and sugar as well. Shanzay Anwar and Myron Hubert both help to color code and get our orders and envelopes together. The students are learning a lot of skills, including job skills - they're learning a trade of sorts. They're out in the community, and more visible, so they're getting more interaction with the adults in this building. They are working on invoicing, since we're putting together the bills, and soon we'll be working on money skills, because we bill once a month. They get a lot of independence, have ownership in their business, and pride in what they're doing."
Since the business began last year, it's taken off. Reed explains, "we've been able to add teacher requests, like tea, hot cocoa, Coke, and Diet Coke. We've been able to sustain the business, and have also made a surplus. It's $1 per cup of coffee, and 25c for cream or sugar." Debi Allison, a paraprofessional in the FRP classroom, adds, "Through earning the funds in the coffee business, they've learned that the money can be used to order more supplies. They've also used some of the money to go to the store to buy things they want, help fund field trips, and go out to enjoy a nice meal, which we did with them last year."
West Hills Principal Rob Durecka helped to get the business off the ground, by providing the funds for the Keurig coffee machine that the students use to make the coffee. Durecka shares, "This is such a great idea, I wanted to get them a Keurig machine. It's an authentic thing. People love their coffee, and they love seeing the kids. The students get a chance to practice all those interpersonal skills. I pay them extra, and they credit that for a future invoice. They're realistic math problems. They're running a business, and it's been received really well. I'm very proud of them!" This project was also supported through a grant from the BHS Foundation.
Students in the class enjoy learning their new skills. Dean Clugh explains, "I like doing the orders and delivery. Delivering coffee to teachers is fun." And the teachers clearly love their coffee days. Lisa Reeling exclaims, "I love getting my hot chocolate in the morning, and I look forward to Monday, Wednesday and Friday! The students always have smiles on their faces." Michelle Stringfellow shares, "It's absolutely fabulous! It adds a pick-me-up to the whole day. I order the same thing every time. Ms. Reed sends a Google form in the mornings, and we fill out our order forms. Everything is by email. It's very simple. We get our bill once a month. We love to see the students come in and deliver our coffee and hot chocolate." Debbie Steaban, who works in the main office, shares, "Not only do they come in smiling, but it's an opportunity for us to get to know them. It's been a great way to see the kids come in and interact, more than they used to. Plus we get coffee! It's the best!"