Soldotna Middle School student Erik Benson pours syrup for a coffee drink with help from his teacher, Jennifer Tyler, early Tuesday morning. Benson is one of several students participating in the school's "Intensive Java Joint" program.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
The faculty at Soldotna Middle School has it easy in terms of getting a coffee fix every morning. When the school has its own in-house coffee business, teachers don't have to run all over town looking for a cup of java before the bell rings.
Jennifer Tyler, intensive needs teacher, started a coffee business with her class to teach life skills. The class business is called Intensive Java Joint.
The program, still in its first year, has gone over well with parents, students and customers. They serve 16-ounce cups for a buck, so it's hard to beat.
"We have nine regulars and serve about 10 to 15 customers every day. We even do emergency coffee runs for those who really need it," Tyler said.
Marti Shirley, math and special services teacher at SMS takes advantage of the convenience.
"I get an extra hot skinny latte. It's a fancier coffee made with steamed milk and espresso. You can also get hot chocolate and mochas with all kinds of different syrups, but I like it plain, myself. The coffee is awesome. It's smooth, never bitter, and just exactly what I ask for. I have a standing order," she said.
The program is popular among other teachers at SMS and Redoubt Elementary. When members of the faculty order coffee from the class, it's like getting it from any well-equipped coffee shop. The class even uses an espresso machine. Shirley said having access to good coffee is a necessity and is a win-win situation because it is good for the students putting it on.
"The kids do an awesome job. In the beginning they learned pretty fast where the deliveries needed to go. It's important because it's job training in self-esteem, social skills, counting money and being around people. When they're going around the school meeting people, that is a very positive thing. It's important to be polite and confident."
Tyler said she likes doing the coffee business because of the tangible benefits to those in the class. She runs the class according to the state Alternate Assessment Standards revised for 2004.
The standards applied to the class include:
Using functional written communication;
Using verbal and nonverbal communication;
n Engaging in meaningful conversation;
Relating and applying what is viewed or read to practical purposes;
Comprehending meaning from oral language and other forms of communication;
Responding to environmental, social auditory or visual cues;
Responding to and using numbers, calculations and measurements;
Managing personal needs;
Acting safely and responsibility;
Contributing meaningfully at home and in the classroom; and
Participating meaningfully in the community.
"The coffee business as a class covers all the bases for the standards," Tyler said. "The kids initiate everything. Each student has specific jobs ranging from grinding coffee to making sure we get started on time at 7:55 a.m. when school starts. They do the math and find out which supplies we need and make it. The kids do everything. They are learning life skills here, and they're doing the job well"
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