Career and Education Program Introduces Brewing Independence

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Career and Education Program Introduces Brewing Independence

Students prepare their coffees for the day.

Students prepare their coffees for the day.

Students prepare their coffees for the day.

Students prepare their coffees for the day.

Colleen Barry, Staff Writer

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This past February, the Walpole High School Career and Education Program began a new program called Brewing Independence. Brewing Independence is a student-run coffee cart business where students who are a part of the Career and Ed Department get the opportunity to make and deliver Starbucks coffee to teachers all around the school during first block on Tuesday and Thursdays.

“My favorite part about Brewing Independence is getting to smell the coffee everyday,” student barista Faith Watson said. “We get to work on skills like communication and money skills while we work.”

Each day, four to five students from both Tier 1 and Tier 2—the younger students and the post-graduate students—organize into an assembly line formation to make the various teachers’ coffee orders. Special Education teachers Kellie Robinson and Courtney Budz read out the coffee order, then the students put together order forms and each person takes their part, whether it is adding the creamer or putting the lids on. Once the orders are complete, the students organize the coffees by department, and they send a group out for delivery.

The student Barista’s make morning coffee orders.

The idea of Brewing Independence stemmed from a Facebook post about a similar program at Westwood High School. Robinson and Budz went to Westwood to watch their program in action and immediately fell in love with the idea.

“We thought about it for awhile, but never really implemented it until this year,” Budz said. “We went to see [Westwood’s] program and thought this is exactly everything we want to do, and then we just added our own little touches.”

Additionally, every week, Robinson and Budz select a “Barista of the Week” and post a bulletin in the school with the student’s picture highlighting their hard work that week.

Student Rory Hegrety is chosen as “Barista of the Week”.

“We are trying to spread positivity, that has been our goal this year,” Budz said. “We tell teacher or students, anyone who wants to come, that they can put notes around the picture. It’s cool and the students love looking at them.”

One of the main skills that students work on is socialization. Brewing Independence builds stronger relationships within WHS among the students as well as the teachers. When students go out for delivery, they get to see new faces and get to know the teachers outside of the Career and Ed Department better.

“The program has definitely built stronger relationships with teachers because now teachers say hello to the students in the hallway whereas before I don’t even think they knew [the students’] names,” Robinson said.

Keith Tompkins, the WHS Student Support Liaison, has also given the Brewing Independence program positive feedback.

“A lot of teachers and a lot of staff do not have the opportunity to interact with those students on a daily basis, so it gives them a great opportunity to meet with different people and get the students out and about,” Tompkins said. “Meeting different faces and seeing smiling faces and getting a coffee at the beginning of the day is certainly a good pick me up as well.”

Student Barista Brian Murphy poses in his Brewing Independence apron.

Brewing Independence also allows the students to work on a number of essential skills: social skills, money skills and team building. The teachers look forward to Brewing Independence because they get to see the students grow through the program.

“It gives the kids who are delivering the coffee an opportunity to understand how the business of it works, where it could provide them with the opportunity to work in a real coffee shop one day,” Tompkins said.

Overall, Brewing Independence has been a success at WHS due to the stronger relationships the program has built and the skills the students in the Career and Ed Department have learned.

“We’ve been impressed on how well it has flowed and how well they have worked together,” said Budz. “We are always looking for new ways to add on to the program.”