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Students learn skills through class business

Posted: Tuesday, Feb 5th, 2013

Photos by Heather Young

ATASCADERO — S.T.E.P.S. Bucks Coffee Shop, an Atascadero student-run business, catered Tuesday’s Atascadero City Council meeting. Eight members of the Steps for Transitioning into Education/Employment and Personal Success Program through the Atascadero Unified School District provided free hot beverages and homemade cookies to attendees.

The class was asked to provide the refreshments when Mayor Tom O’Malley heard about the class and its class business at the City-Schools Committee meeting.

“I had to go [to the coffee shop] and visit some folks doing a very good job,” O’Malley said.

The students did everything from greeting attendees when they walked through the door, to taking orders, filling those orders, running the cash register and picking up trash.

“The STEPS program teaches us about daily living skills,” student Melody Currell said.

The class has been practicing since September, teacher Erin Van Mote said.

“We had to teach them to brew the coffee,” Van Mote said. “Teach them how to greet the customers. Teach them how to run the register.”

The coffee shop is open twice a month during the school year, having been open five times since it opened on Nov. 26, 2012. The next coffee shop will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 30. For the rest of the school year, the coffee shop is open on Wednesday, Feb. 13 and 27, March 13 and 27, April 10 and 24, May 15 and 29 and June 12, all from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. at 6495 Lewis Ave., across the street from Atascadero Junior High School in the building that The LINK used to be located.

The program is located in that location and is for students 18 to 22 and are severely disabled, according to the brochure issued by AUSD. The overall focus of STEPS is to improve functional life skills and maximize independence as adult students transition into life outside of public school.

“We are independent adults learning how to live outside of public schools,” student Jeff King said.

The class, Van Mote said, came up with the name of the business, designed its logo, and made their aprons and menus. The students also decide what breakfast pastry to make for each coffee shop. Van Mote then makes a visual recipe for the students to read. The class then shops and makes the pastry.

When the coffee shop first opened, Van Mote said that district employees were invited, then employees and their families were invited and the customer base spread through word of mouth to include community members and police department personnel.

In its first few coffee shops, the class business profited $41, now Van Mote that each coffee shop brings in about $200. That money, she said, will go back into the business to purchase supplies and aprons so each employee has his or her own. She said that the money leftover at the end of the school year will likely be used for the class’ leisure curriculum — such as to purchase a croquet set or for a class bowling day.

The class also sells $5 gift cards for the coffee shop. The gift cards were decorated by class members and will be punched each time used.

“The goal of the class business is for them to learn and practice vocational skills through running the class business,” Van Mote said. “I try to get them to acquire new language skills. To learn and communicate through functional life skills.”

She said they learn problem solving skills such as “What happens when the coffee runs out? What do you do?”

The community is invited to visit the class’ coffee shop during open times. For more information, call 462-4230.

For the complete article see the 01-25-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 01-25-2013 paper.

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