One Texas special needs teacher is on her way to receiving “best teacher award” after developing a pretty original and creative idea to help her students open up and learn to cope with their disabilities. Shelby Winder came up with the coffee cart idea after being assigned to teach a life skills class that was specifically meant for students with “significant cognitive impairment in conjunction with adaptive displays.”
Winder is a recent Texas A&M graduate and teaches Life Skills at Grand Oaks High School in Spring, Texas. Letting them run their very own coffee car, the students take order from staff members and teachers throughout the week, and deliver them every Friday. The kids push the coffee cart themselves around the school delivering the special orders and interact with their peers. According to her colleague, Chris Friel, the activity has helped students practice their communication and social skills by working towards their shyness. The students are also learning how to run a simple business by calculating their profits and expenses.
The students run the business, calling it “The Grizzly Bean,” and was entirely funded by Winder and her first-year teacher’s salary. Yet, once the result of the experiment started becoming evident, Grand Oaks High School reimbursed her so she could continue the experiment throughout the year. Winder said she will work on giving the profit from her student’s coffee cart to another school so they can start a similar program.
The coffee cart is an easy teaching tool, gives the children skills and lesson to carry throughout the school year. She believes this will build the foundation upon which they grow and become productive members of society.