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Special School District of St. Louis County

Coffee Break:
Student Coffee House Helps Develop
Students' Prevocational Skills

Something new is brewing at SSD’s Southview School.

The Southview Cougar Coffee Den opened for business in January. The new coffee house is more than just a place for faculty to get their caffeine fix; it’s a learning opportunity for Southview students.

Students operate the school’s coffee shop by taking orders and entering them into the tablet cash register, brewing several coffee flavors, keeping track of inventory, keeping the coffee house clean and even preparing the bank deposit forms.

“The benefit for the students is working on their prevocational skills,” said Kristen Schaffer, a teacher at Southview. “They’re learning to communicate with staff, communicate with each other and learning to use the technology in the cash register.”

Samantha Lotz, a student at Southview, works at the coffee shop. She says she’s learned a lot about making coffee and managing money, but her favorite part of the job is the people.

“It’s fun; I like talking to all of the people,” Samantha said. 

The Coffee Den serves hot coffee, tea, hot chocolate and iced coffee drinks. Kathy Buehler, the transition facilitator at Southview, suggested the idea of the partnership with Community Coffee.

“We were looking to create a dynamic learning environment that ensures every student has a high-quality and meaningful learning experience that will help them achieve their potential in whichever employment, training or education setting they attain following graduation,” Buehler said.

Teachers and staff members at Southview can perk up their day with a cup of joe during one of two shifts—one in the morning and another in the afternoon. Coffee can be purchased with cash, with a pre-purchased punch card or with a gift certificate from another staff member.

“Southview’s Coffee Den has quickly become an amazing addition to the Southview learning environment,” Buehler said.

Schaffer says it has also been a great addition for the staff.

“The caffeine intake has definitely gone up for the staff,” Schaffer said. “We certainly have our regular customers.”

Published April 2017

Samantha Lotz, a student at SSD's Southview School, works at the school's Coffee Den.Samantha Lotz, a student at SSD's Southview School, works at the school's Coffee Den.

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Special School District of St. Louis County (SSD) is a leader in providing special education services to students with disabilities and also provides a wide range of career and technical education programs.
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