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Special Needs Teacher's Coffee Cart Idea

This Teacher's "Brilliant" Coffee Cart Idea Is Helping Students With Special Needs

Shelby Winder is a special education teacher at Grand Oaks High School in Texas, and for her first year teaching a Life Skills class – which is specifically for students with significant cognitive impairment and adaptive disabilities – she came up with an out-of-the-box idea that is impressing her colleagues and parents alike.

"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. "So she started buying all of the things they would need to start a traveling coffee cart."

The cart allows her students to walk around to each of the staff members in the school, take their orders, and then deliver their coffee to them on Fridays.

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"Most importantly, this would allow the students 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," Chris continued. "They named their business 'The Grizzly Bean.'"

Perhaps even more impressive than the idea itself is that Shelby self-funded the project on a first-year teacher's salary. Although the school reimbursed her after hearing about her efforts, they encouraged her to "keep dreaming big," too.

"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."

Shelby also has the goal of using some of the profits from her classroom's coffee business to provide funds for another school to start the exact same project. The idea is that each school would pay it forward in this way so that this little, isolated coffee cart program can be used in schools around the nation.

Chris perhaps said it best: "How cool is that?!"

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