'Coffee Cart' teaches Roanoke students with autism everyday life skills

Students brew and sell coffee to teachers three times a day

ROANOKE, Va. – A unique class project is teaching special education students life skills they'll use for years to come.

The sound of coffee brewing in the morning is what many of us wake up to.

For some students, it gets them excited, too as they get everything ready for the Garden City Coffee Cart.

"Making coffee and delivering it and just getting money so we can do fun stuff," said Josh Short, a student.

Short and his classmates have autism.

"Regardless of their label they are able to function independently and successfully. It's really cool to see them take pride in what they are doing and they are very proud of themselves which is ultimately the goal," said Siera Price, a Garden City special-education teacher who started the coffee cart about two years ago.

Students fill out an invoice for teachers.

"It was a great way to introduce new math skills. A lot of the students really struggle with understanding the concept of money," said Price.

Then they get the coffee ready to make.

"We started working on it to also influence their reading. They started having to match the letters on the order to the letters on the coffee and then from there it just built," said Price.

Once it's ready, the cart is ready to roll down the hallways where they find each classroom, delivering coffee to teachers.

"I had students who weren't speaking and now they are speaking," said Price. "It's been great for their peers and other classrooms to see them. They are now recognizing peers by name so they'll be in the hall and someone will say 'hey'. It's really cool to see."

The coffee cart has expanded. Now the students do three deliveries a day, selling about 15 coffees.

Price says right now the profits are going back into the coffee cart but they are not breaking even. To continue, they would like to get donations. If you're interested, contact Garden City Elementary School in Roanoke.

About the Author:

You can see Jenna weekday mornings at the anchor desk on WSLS 10 Today from 5-7 a.m. She also leads our monthly Solutionaries Series, where we highlight the creative thinkers and doers working to make the world a better place.