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South Hills

New way for students to learn brewing at Baldwin High

| Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018, 1:54 p.m.

Baldwin High School students seeking a pre-class pick-me-up can visit a new student-run coffee shop this fall.

The Baldwin Bean inside the school likely will open by early October, offering quick grab-and-go snacks, hot and cold drinks and a mixed seating area complete with high-top tables and couches where students can come and work on assignments or teachers can bring a class for a change of scenery.

The coffee shop will expand on the district’s partners physical education and music programs, which pairs students with complex learning needs with classmates to learn together, said Eric Jankoski, transition coordinator.

Baldwin teachers had the idea years ago to open a coffee shop inside the school, where students of all learning abilities could work together to make drinks and run the cash register. The time just wasn’t right — until now. When the school’s newspaper, The Purbalite, moved out of its two-room space across from the school’s gymnasiums, Jankoski said, it became the ideal spot for the shop.

The transformation required a team from the food service department working to change the classroom-like space into a coffee shop, as well as a committee formed last school year of teachers and students working to make the shop a reality.

In April, they held a naming contest where students selected the “Baldwin Bean.” Then, in May there was a logo contest, followed by taste-testing of lattes and flavored teas and juices, which occurred during Keystone testing.

The Baldwin Bean received a $500 grant from the Boro and Township Police Association and is receiving a grant from the Baldwin-Whitehall Educational Foundation.

Jankoski said the team is still deciding which specific items will be sold and how exactly things will run.

The Baldwin Bean is bringing together various departments in the district, from the business to technology departments. Family and consumer science students learning to cook, for example, could bake cupcakes to sell as a fundraiser for the coffee shop.

A large push in the district is to create nontraditional learning spaces, Jankoski said, and The Baldwin Bean will provide just that.

“There will be a relaxing space where they can socialize, get their work done, and it will be different than a traditional cafeteria,” he said.

The plan is for the Baldwin Bean to be open before school and during the first two periods of the day.

At the shop, students from entrepreneurship and accounting classes likely will partner with students with complex learning needs to get hands-on experience operating a business in an integrated work environment. For students with complex learning needs, Jankoski said, the goal is to help prepare them for employment. They’ll learn to make drinks, clean up and maybe eventually oversee ordering of supplies. All of that initially will be handled by the food service department.

Working inside the school could be a good first step, before sending the kids out into more formal jobs, Jankoski said.

“They’re getting the job training experience in a safer, nonthreatening environment.”

Even before the coffee shop opens, organizers are dreaming big. The hope is to install digital signage and mobile ordering stations and maybe even create an app for the shop in the future, Jankoski said.

“We’re still trying to figure out the specifics for how we want to run everything,” he said.

Stephanie Hacke is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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