By Lisa Carolin
Learning real life skills is an important part of a student’s education, and Tiffany Manning, special education teacher at Beach Middle School, is a firm believer in that.
Manning’s students have had the hand’s on experience of being part of the Beach Brew Crew.
“Starting a coffee business gave us the opportunity to interact with staff, learn a life skill, and handle real money,” said Manning, who said that Biggby Coffee in Chelsea donated cups and the Chelsea Milling Company donated muffin mix.
“We work on organizing the materials (we color code our options and offer coffee, decaf, hot tea, hot chocolate, and a specialty coffee), handwriting skills (the students write the staff names on the cups, fill out papers for tabs owed or when prepaid accounts are low, etc.), proper greetings (smiling, friendly approach, etc.), and a life skill of how to make coffee and serve others.”
Each cup of coffee sells for $0.75, and teachers pay with every sort of combination of change to help students hone their math skills. Some teachers prepay using accounts, which gives students the chance to count the money and keep records of how long they’ve prepaid for.
The Brew Crew makes and delivers the coffee on Wednesday mornings.
“They get to make their way around the building and interact with a variety of staff,” said Manning. “They are learning social skills, math, and English skills.”
Manning takes the students shopping at Meijer to buy supplies, and they’ve been learning their way around the store.
“They’re interacting with people in public places,” said Manning. “We also pay with cash and coupons, so students have to figure out money at the register.”
Recently, the Beach Brew Crew began offering muffins as well as coffee. Some students bake the muffins while others brew coffee. Manning says the staff has been very supportive.
“The Brew Crew has been such a hit that we started a Pay it Forward Friday,” said Manning. “Teachers are able to pay $1.00 to send a coffee to another staff member. Many staff (members) have sent amazing notes to others that have really helped create a positive atmosphere in the building.”
She says students enjoy playing an active role as well as learning applicable skills.