Monrovia High School special education students learn important life skills in unique coffee program

Morning coffee means a little more at Monrovia High School. It's a way to teach special education students job and communication skills.

Mark is one of the students who take part in the school's Roasters coffee cart program.

"It's just the way that they could teach us how to make coffee if we end up working at a coffee place. It's my life," he said.

The MHS Roasters coffee cart goes out at 7 a.m. and serves students and staff with coffee, tea or hot chocolate.

Blanca Gutierrez's son Dante is also part of the Roasters crew.

"In the morning, I'm like, hey Dante, time to get up, you gotta work the café," she said. "And he's here. He loves coming to school and being a part of all this. It it's pretty great to see."

The program gives students a chance to learn critical thinking skills, financial management and job skills that they can put toward a job after graduation.

Kymberly Hirst is Monrovia High's workability transition coordinator.

"They're learning job skills for a barista job maybe, they're learning how to use money. A lot of them are using the communication skills that they may - or may not - have had in the classroom or just the community. So,it's been really positive, we've had really good feedback," Hirst said.

The program also makes use of technology to give all students the chance to gain work experience.

"We have one of our students who uses an iPad to communicate. We set up his iPad on top of the Keurig machine and he'll push the button coffee, tea, have a great day, thank you, you're welcome and he'll hand it off," Hirst said.

The program plans to expand to other businesses like Walgreens and Smart and Final

"It's important that they're competitively employed and they're integrated into the community because they can do it. They just need the right person to guide them and show them but they definitely can do it," Hirst said.
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