COMMERCIAL POINT — For some students at Scioto Elementary School in Commercial Point, working their first ‘job’ is the highlight of their month.

Students at the school can participate in the monthly Coffee Cart, a program that provides students with the opportunity to develop leadership, social, speech and life skills that will help them for the rest of their lives.

“The Coffee Cart started as a way for students with varying abilities to work on and display speech and life skills,” Hannah Rush, a teacher at the school and one of the organizers of the program said.

The program works by having the students visit each classroom once a month where they ask any adults present two simple questions. Would they like some coffee and would they like the dessert option, which is either a donut or a cookie. Teachers are allowed one of each and often tip students with stickers or other small prizes for their service. The program started last school year.

“Our biggest goal with the students is to give them a sense of pride and confidence while working on their individual goals,” Rush added. “The students have taken pride in their ability to serve and interact with staff members. They have also gained a role of leadership in the building.”

The Cart was supported with a recent grant from the Teays Valley Educational Foundations, who provided $2,132 to purchase an additional cart and supplies.

Scioto Elementary School Principal Devin Anderson said she’s so excited to talk about the program with other educators. The program was recently on display at an Ohio School Board Association conference.

“What I like about it the most is I see the kids’ confidence come out of it,” she said. “They get to work on their communication skills. It may be through a chart or device but the ability to work on communication is what I appreciate.”

Anderson said the students take their jobs with the Coffee Cart seriously.

“The students like to keep me accountable, last year you had to turn in a ticket to get what they were passing out,” Anderson stated. “The students were like — if you don’t turn in your ticket, you don’t get anything. I thought that was a really important message.”

Anderson said the teachers appreciate the treat as well, and she hopes it grows and evolves.

“Sometimes the best things start with small ideas,” Anderson continued. “I see this growing into more opportunities. As the kids attain these skills we’ll have to raise the bar. I think growing partnerships in the community is a big piece of that. How can we learn from our experts to develop these skills the kids need to be able to apply for these jobs in the future?”

Students have really taken to the Cart, including Hannah Slavin, a second grade student, who likes handing out “yummy treats.”

“My favorite thing we served were the pumpkin donuts,” Slavin commented. “They were all gone.”

Keegan Whitlatch, a fourth grader, said he’s participated in the Cart a couple of times and handing out the ghost cookies in October was his favorite item to give away. He explained how the process of serving staff members works.

“You grab the napkin and then use the napkin to grab the cookie and give it to them,” he concluded.

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