Hampton High School's Busy Bean much more than just a cafe
Early morning caffeine might be giving Hampton students and staff that extra jolt of energy, but for those working at the Busy Bean cafe, the benefits go way beyond a cup of coffee.
The coffee shop opened for business on Oct. 1 near the high school cafeteria by the Special Education Department, giving students with special needs a chance to learn life and social skills.
Sarah Rassau, a life skills teacher at the high school, said it’s been, needless to say, busy.
“It’s overwhelming how well it’s been received by staff and students. We couldn’t be happier,” said Rassau.
She, and other learning support teachers, Amy Faith and Lynn Stevwing, have taken the lead on the Busy Bean, according to Mike Zdinak, an emotional support teacher at the high school and advisor to the Best Buddies group.
The Busy Bean is open daily from 7:30 to 10:30 a.m., staffed by 12 students, all of whom have special needs, said Rassau. Their intent is to expand and hopefully join some students without special needs, she said.
They serve coffee, hot tea, hot chocolate and pastries, she said.
The students are tasked with running the register, making and serving drinks and pastries. Hampton staff can also order online, after which the cafe employees deliver to their classroom or office.
She said this is a great way for students with special needs to learn important life skills, such as problem solving. This is something they can carry with them outside of school and put on a resume. They also enhance their social skills by talking and interacting with customers.
“It’s going better than anticipated,” said Rassau, who has been at the high school for two years.
The prices pretty much cover the cost of the supplies. Any profit they may make would just go back into the store, she said.
Other areas of the school are helping out. The woodshop students made the sign and are working on shelves for the stores. And the aprons were embroidered in the school’s sewing and design classes, she said.
The cafe employees work during their free or resource periods so it doesn’t interfere with their education.
“I really enjoy working at the Busy Bean because I like to help people and I enjoy talking to the other students,” said sophomore Madison Hurdle.
Hanna Bernett, senior class vice president, commented on the success of Busy Bean cafe while providing a student council report to the Hampton Township School Board last week.
“I went there twice this morning, and it’s indeed very busy,” said Bernett.
Natalie Beneviat is a Tribune-Review contributor.