Students gain work experience with school coffee shop


Petal High School students are making it possible for faculty, staff and students to get their caffeine fix at the start of the day.

Students in Heather Howell’s community-based class at PHS held their grand opening of the Panther Brew Coffee Shop on Monday, Sept. 18. The coffee shop is open in the school library from 8 to 8:30 a.m. each morning.

According to Special Services Director Katie Charleville, the students serve a variety of coffees and feature a different baked goodie each day. 

“Everything they are doing ties into their curriculum and classroom goals,” she said. “This gives them real life experience to practice what they are learning.”

They are focusing on customer service, counting money and staying on task to complete job responsibilities. 

This project is a part of a Life Centered Curriculum focusing on daily living skills, such as counting money, using basic appliances and demonstrating clean up; personal and social skills like demonstrating ability to following directions, self-organization, appropriate behaviors, effective communication, listening and responding skills; and occupational guidance and preparation skills, such as making realistic occupational training and job placement decisions.

The first day the coffee shop earned $44 and $20 on the second day.

According to Howell, the money earned will go toward class activities and trips to further assist in job training, daily living and personal and social skills objectives.

Approximately seven students are taking part, with four working at a time in the coffee shop.

Howell said the students are responsible for preparing the daily sweets and packaging the sweets.

They also set up the Panther Brew each morning, including table set up, setting out creamers and sugars, putting water in the Keurig and operating the Keurig.

While working, they are in charge of all aspects of customer service, such as listening to and handling the customers' orders, handling money and giving change back when needed.

The students are also in charge of clean up afterward.

“The Panther Brew provides the opportunity to learn skills required to obtain gainful employment after high school, by generalizing life skills taught in the school environment to real world employment,” Howell said. “By creating a student-led business for transition age special education students, students will be actively engaged in transitional, financial, vocational and social skills.”