Thursday, November 30, 2023

Students at Norge Elementary Operate a Coffee Cart, Learn New Life Skills

Kai’yon DeRohn takes a customer’s order at Extreme Coffee Llama. (WYDaily/Dominic Catacora)

JAMES CITY COUNTY — Every Friday, a class at Norge Elementary School sets up a shop where they sell coffee and hot chocolate to teachers and visitors passing by.

The name of the coffee cart is called: Extreme Coffee Llama, and it’s situated in the hall where North Coyote Court and Coyote Avenue meet.

Three alternating teams of student baristas are learning valuable life skills while working with their classmates.

(WYDaily/Dominic Catacora)

“We run a coffee cart and it works on functional life skills, and speech and social skills,” said Norge Elementary School Teacher Madison Kent in an interview with WYDaily. “There are three different teams. We have a stocking team, a barista team, and then a cleaning and inventory team. So our stocking team gets everything set up, and then our barista team shows up to take and fill orders, and our cleaning team comes in and they clean everything up and makes sure to take inventory at the end of the day.”

The class has seven participating students. Two on the stock team, three on the barista team, and two on the cleaning and inventory team.

“They all switch out so everyone has an opportunity to be on each part of the barista team,” said Kent. “So every Friday we have at least one new barista on the team so they can all practice.”

The class gives the students a chance to get real-world experience by learning to be a part of the coffee cart. It also provides a way for the students to develop their conversational, problem-solving, math, and reading skills.

“They all actually clock in and out. After their timesheets are filled up they actually get paid,” said Kent. “They get a pay check that they get to deposit into our classroom bank accounts. They have a checking and savings account, and then they also can buy things. We have a class store where they can use that money. So the money that they earn in the coffee cart they get to actually see a reward at the end of the year because they get to purchase things in our classroom.”

(WYDaily/Dominic Catacora)

On April, 22, the barista team consisted of Kai’yon DeRohn, a third-grader, Jaheim Lewars, a fifth-grader, and Sergio Torres, a fifth-grader.

“My favorite part is being up in the front,” said Kai’yon to WYDaily as he prepared to serve coffee for the day. “I do like talking to the customers.”

“They all like taking turns being the barista,” said Kent. “They also, it seems like, take a lot of pride in setting everything up, and they all love dressing up for the coffee cart.”

The coffee cart program was designed in collaboration with three Norge Elementary teachers:

  • Madison Kent, Special Education Teacher
  • Patricia Howard, Occupational Therapist,
  • Erin Westover, Speech Language Pathologist

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