Cougar Café Helps Students Gain Job Readiness Skills

     Published on 3/30/17   Tagged under:    District News    Academics    Clary Middle School   

Each Thursday, during all three lunches, Clary students have the opportunity to purchase a snack that gives back, thanks to the Cougar Café!
Funded by a SCSD Educational Foundation grant, the Cougar Café was created to empower students with the social, work-based and organizational skills needed to help them become college and career ready. In preparation for the café’s opening, students selected a logo, chose the name and identified the skills they would need to be ready to work! Sixth through eighth grade students then learned skills needed to work at the café and now manage its operation on their own, with the help of teacher supervisors. Students sell chips, fruit snacks, juice boxes and more to their classmates, with profits going toward sustaining the café next year (including purchasing a Costco membership), expanding the café menu and more. Any additional funding will go toward a team building field trip for the students who run the café.
“We’re selling snacks and we’ll use the money for field trips and stuff,” sixth grader Damian DeVaul said. “I like helping out with the snacks, and we’re learning things like how to work together.”
Eighth grader Elliott Freelon is a Café Manager, a role he attributes to earning because of the experience he has gained from watching his father, who owns a corner store.
“I like being a manager because I get to help keep people in check,” Elliott explained. “We need to make sure they do things right, like wait in line, restock things and make sure our snacks are healthy. I like that this gives me something to do during my free time at school, and kids like it because they can bring money and buy snacks!”
Teacher Emily Buss said that while the café opened with a once-a-week operation, she hopes to see it expand to a daily operation.
“When you have faith in students and give them meaningful work to do, they exceed expectations,” Ms. Buss said. “I am beyond proud of all the planning, training, and hard work students have put in to all café operations. Some of our most challenging students work at the café, but what you see of them at work is a group of respectful and hardworking students- and that is what they are! I think this has given people in our school community a chance to see students in a positive light, and it has also given students an opportunity to become leaders and experts in our school!”
In addition to the business experience, students have also developed positive self-esteem, interpersonal skills, collaboration, math skills and more. Thank you to the SCSD Educational Foundation for making this project, one of 20 projects funded in 14 schools this year, possible.

To see the Cougar Cafe in operation, click here to view a video produced by ITC Media Communications teacher Jeff Newell and his students >>>