Brew’n up a storm


CATLIN, Ill. (WCIA) — Classes at Salt Fork High School may not start until 8:15 each morning, but starting at 7:45 a.m. once a week, a few students throw on their aprons and sell coffee.

Marcee Taylor is the special education teacher. This is the third week she’s helped her students run a coffee shop.

“It’s important to have something like this outside the classroom,” Taylor explained. “Of course, when we’re in the classroom, we’re learning these things, too, but this brings them to real life.”

One of her students, Scotty Dean, said this is his first year working at the coffee shop. He said he’s learning about work. We asked what he enjoys about it.

“Helping my friends out,” Dean said.

This month, he’s selling coffee with pumpkin spice – the flavor of the month for October.  

Taylor said the skills her students are learning are lifelong.

“They are learning communication skills with the customers, which are mostly students they go to school with and teachers,” she said. “They’re also learning money skills, making change when customers come and get coffee. They’re also shopping for the supplies for the cups and the coffee and the creamer and all of that. Just work skills, real life work skills that will be so important when they leave Salt Fork High School.”

Every purchase and every pour helps teach those skills. And some lessons, as is often the case in the real world, are unexpected.

“I love that we get to use two machines to get the coffee made,” student Kailee Jones said. “The second machine that we use next to the microwave, we used to make hot chocolate and coffee, because last week the other one broke.”

Taylor hopes the coffee shop will run for years to come. It’s currently open every Friday morning during the school year, unless school is closed on a Friday. In that case, the coffee shop opens Thursday mornings. The rest of the time, the coffee shop space is used as a concession stand.

Mad Goat supplied the coffee from Danville. Taylor said she hopes to take her students there on a field trip, so they can have a turn getting served instead.

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