Transitions Coffee Shop serves up smiles and opportunities
Molly Tupper's smile is as sweet as the flavored drinks she serves up at the Anchorage School District's Transitions Coffee Shop. She's one of a handful of students and ASD graduates, ages 18 to 22, in the district’s Adult Community Transition program.
"Students here may have some communication delays, some cognitive delays, but really it's working with that customer service," said ASD Assistant Director of Secondary Special Education Shawn Bernard.
The coffee shop, now in its second school year and located on the first floor in the ASD building on Northern Lights Boulevard, employs two to three students per shift with one to two aides helping and overseeing.
“Our ultimate goal is so that we have one staff member and three students but we really have to work through the process and making sure that students know what they need to do," Bernard said.
In the coffee shop, the student employees progress through various stages of difficulty. Tupper went from helping make drip coffees and lattes to now greeting customers and running the high-tech cash register.
“I love it working here, it's fun," she said. "I like seeing people smile."
Besides serving morning coffee and smiles, the coffee shop has expanded its product offerings to include ASD merchandise and breakfast foods. The vast array of inventory is Tupper’s responsibility at the front.
"That's what we all support here is the learning of the students," Vocational coordinator Nikki Moore said. "They're learning budgeting skills, they’re learning money handling, they’re learning independent living skills, purchasing, they’re learning vocational skills."
The program helps these students learn the skills that employers are looking for and are needed in order to navigate the transition from high school to the workforce.
"If they need help, they ask. And so that's always an important part too is learning how to ask when you need assistance," Morris said.
Transitions Coffee Shop is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to noon.
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