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The Coffee Shop prepares students for life

The pleasing aroma of fresh backed muffins and hot coffee tempts teachers and other staff at Lincoln Intermediate Center in Farmington into the room where Jacob, Ricky, Kory, James and Dillon spend their days.

Every morning, the boys prepare coffee, set out packaged snacks and baked goodies to sell in their Coffee Shop. Throughout the day, they sell refreshments to the adults at the school who come in during planning periods and free time. The boys handle billing for customers who have charge accounts, take inventory and budget profits to keep their store stocked, and work together with teacher Vicki Boatright to plan what they will bake each day.

&#8220I like brownies best because I like to eat them,” Jacob said.

Classmates Dillon and James said they also use their culinary skills at home. James sometimes takes a sample of his cooking home to share with his mother, whose specialty is M & M cookies. As for the better baker of the two, the answer is clear, James said. Puffing out his chest, he announced, &#8220That would be me!”

The five boys, in grades 4-6, are members of the district’s Farmington’s Alternative Community-Based Classroom for Exceptional Students (F.A.C.E.S.) special services program. (School policy prohibits the publication of last names of students in the F.A.C.E.S. program.)

The coffee shop is part of the life skills program F.A.C.E.S. uses to teach academic skills. Approximately 75 percent of academic skills are taught through hands-on classwork, Boatright said. The program is open to students in grades 1-6 who are not successful in traditional classrooms.

Teachers love the coffee shop and support it well, Boatright added. The boys keep a supply of tea and lemonade on hand, and provide a variety of flavored syrups and creamers for customers who want specialty coffees. Prices are low; for example, a fresh baked muffin costs 25 cents. Sonic, Burger King, Plank Road Inn and Pasta House donated items to the class, which helps reduce costs, she added.

The students also plan and make lunch for teachers to buy each Thursday. The boys make soup or a simple lunch, with homemade bread and dessert. Today’s menu is ham and beans, cornbread and apple cobbler.

&#8220The kids love it,” said Ashley Stevens, a special education paraprofessional who works with Boatright. &#8220They love seeing the teachers come in and they love hearing the teachers’ praise.”

Stevens said the students also take orders from teachers for decorated birthday cakes. Teachers who participate in the staff’s &#8220secret pals” program also order fancy cakes as surprise gifts for their &#8220pals.”

Cooking and baking projects include math and reading skills such as calculating measurements, understanding and following directions and completing tasks in sequence. Hygiene and other life skills are incorporated into daily lessons.

&#8220Most of our students will go into the work force, and they’ll need these skills,” Stevens said.

These boys shatter any stereotype of males cluttering up kitchens when they cook and leaving the mess for someone else to clean up. The boys clean the kitchen every day, even on days they don’t bake.

It’s a chore that Ricky looks forward to.

&#8220I love to clean!” he said, grinning widely.

The students also launder their towels, aprons, wash cloths, and occasional items from other classrooms each day. This is Kory’s favorite chore, and he particularly likes folding clean clothes.

Boatright looks forward to more complex activities this year. The boys will travel into the community to grocery shop with coupons, order their own food at restaurants, and learn how a Laundromat operates.

&#8220I’ve been blessed this year,” she said. &#8220I have a great group of kids here.”

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