Shelby Winder is a special education teacher at Grand Oaks High School in Spring, Texas, and she has caught the attention of the internet for her brilliant strategy to help her students gain hands-on job experience, right at school.
Winder teaches a life skills course for students with cognitive impairment and adaptive disabilities. In a Facebook post that has since gone viral, Winder’s friend, Chris Field, described how Winder came up with the idea for her students to operate a coffee cart to help them to improve their social skills, confidence and communication — and even learn the basics of running a business.
Students take the school’s staff members’ coffee orders throughout the week and then deliver them on Fridays. Dubbed “The Grizzly Bean,” the coffee cart business was originally funded out of Winder’s own pocket, but she has now been reimbursed by the school.
“Her students have now been at this a couple weeks already, and she says they are absolutely loving it,” Field wrote in his post. “It’s obviously a great teaching tool and one that will give them skills and lessons to carry far beyond this school year.”
He also goes on to explain that Winder plans to use some of the profits from the business to help another school start a similar project. Then, ideally, that school will help another school start the program, and so forth. Talk about paying it forward!
“Yes, they all have different abilities, but what I want people to see is that, even though their abilities are so different, they absolutely can hold jobs,” Winder told KBTX of the project.
The experience already has some of the student employees thinking about their future jobs, like Kailee Chatman, who told the news station she now wants to work at Starbucks after getting her feet wet in the coffee shop business with The Grizzly Bean.
What an awesome teacher! Here’s hoping that other schools adopt her amazing idea.