A special needs teacher at Grand Oaks High School in Texas is earning praise from her colleagues and parents after coming up with a unique "lesson plan" for her students. Shelby Winder is teaching a Life Skills class, which is for students with significant cognitive impairment and adaptive disabilities, for the first time, and she wanted to involve them in a project that would be empowering in the short- and long-haul.
"Shelby came up with the brilliant idea of wanting to empower her students this year in some way that was meaningful and would outlast their time with her in the classroom," her colleague, Chris Field, wrote in a Facebook post that quickly went viral. "So, she started buying all of the things they would need to start a traveling coffee cart."
The thought behind the cart is that having students make their way around the school taking orders and then delivering coffee on Fridays would allow them to "practice their social skills, communication, working through their shyness, and even learning how to run a simple business by calculating their expenses and profits." The kids even named the business "The Grizzly Bean."
"Her students have now been at this a couple weeks already, and she says they are absolutely loving it," Chris added. "It's obviously a great teaching tool, and one that will give them skills and lessons to carry far beyond this school year."
One unfortunate aspect of the story is that Shelby had to fund the project entirely on her own, on a first-year teacher's salary. Thankfully, upon catching wind of the coffee cart, the school reimbursed her and encouraged her to "keep dreaming big," according to Chris. And she definitely is: Her goal is to donate funds from the cart to another school, so they can start their own. Way to affect positive change—and pay it forward!