“Life skills” is an often overlooked aspect of education, yet one can’t deny the importance of teaching kids how to navigate life’s many social and business situations.
Shelby Winder is a first-year teacher who recently landed her first job as a special education teacher at Grand Oaks High School in Conroe, Texas. One of the aspects of Shelby’s job at the school is to teach a “Life Skills” class to students with cognitive impairment and other disabilities. Her aim is to help prepare kids for the world after graduation.
Shelby’s friend Chris Field, a local author, shared a story of one creative part of the curriculum Shelby has incorporated since taking the reins at her new job. Taking to his Facebook page, Chris wrote:
“Shelby came up with the brilliant idea of wanting to empower her students this year in some way that was meaningful and would outlast their time with her in the classroom. So she started buying all of the things they would need to start a traveling coffee cart. This would allow her students to walk around to each of the teachers and staff in the school and take their orders and then deliver their coffee to them on Fridays.”
“Most importantly, this would allow the students to practice their social skills, communication, working through their shyness, and even learning how to run a simple business by calculating their expenses and profits. They named their business ‘The Grizzly Bean.’”
When Chris learned about what Shelby was doing to help these kids, he was so impressed he reached out to her for more information. It was then that he learned Shelby had been funding the entire enterprise by herself, on a meager first-year teacher’s salary. Chris says he quickly “made sure she was made whole on that front,” encouraging her to keep up the good work.
Shelby says her students have been loving the coffee cart. Each Friday, they learn how to work in a service industry like a coffee shop, taking orders, making change, and delivering the coffee around school. Yet Chris explained that Shelby’s coffee cart idea is just the beginning of an even more beautiful story. If all goes well, Shelby hopes that proceeds from this in-school business can act as seed money to get the program going in other schools!
“One of the coolest parts of this story is that Shelby has the goal of using some of the profits from her class’s coffee business to actually provide funds for another school to start the same project. Then they would do the same, and they would do the same, and so on and so forth.”
What an innovative approach to teaching kids those necessary life skills. We’re so lucky to have eager young minds like Shelby’s out there to groom the next generation of good citizens. Keep up the great work, Shelby!