CHAGRIN FALLS, OH — Staff and students at one high school have a new place to get their coffee fix in northeast Ohio. While it's helping them jump-start their day, it's also giving a boost to some very special students who work there.
- Tiger Perk officially opens next week to school staff
- Tiger Perk program helps students with disabilities build customer service skills, life skills and financial literacy skills
- Coffee shop cost $113,500 to build
In 2017, Chagrin Falls High School started a job skills program called Tiger Perk. The goal is to help students in grades 7-12 with disabilities, and enhance their social and academic skills. Now, they're expanding the program and it includes a full-fledged coffee shop that's set to officially open next week.
The school just held its ribbon cutting. It was a busy morning at the Tiger Perk coffee shop at Chagrin Falls High School.
As students prepare coffee and make their delivery rounds, it makes for some special moments to remember for students like Laura and 14-year-old Maggie Koehler. "I'm happy with the customer when they come," Maggie quipped.
Koehler and 19 other students with disabilities work here, alongside staff and student mentors.
The coffee delivery service started two years ago with students simply taking online orders; but school officials, including Superintendent Robert Hunt say they didn't realize they needed to expand until they saw the impact first hand. "I honestly realize the importance of teaching life skills to students, but I didn't realize the impact of pushing these students out...you know having them greet teachers and deliver coffee. It has really changed the culture with interaction with teachers that maybe would have never interacted with these students...or interaction in the hallways...people saying hello and you knowing people's names."
The coffee shop gives more than 700 high school students and staff at the middle and high school a chance to come to them and grab bagels and hot coffee or place an order.
While the students are doing a great job, Superintendent Hunt says they're learning so much more. "They're learning about capital costs. It's not just about buying coffee. It's what are the counter sales? What do the refrigerators cost? What do the coffee makers cost?" They're also building customer service skills, life skills and social skills that will eventually help them find work after high school through the Tiger Perk program.
Mentors like Madeline Davis are excited for them.
"I love seeing people grow. So, it's great to see the people I've been working with even last year to moving into this space and proving and giving to people who are coming in and seeing their happiness when they come in, and they see people working together and having fun with it."
While this is just the first phase, the program will eventually add business, marketing and social media components to further boost student skills as they prepare them for the workforce. Although students are serving out of the shop right now, they'll get the chance to go back to their old their elementary schools one day each week to interact with teachers there. The Tiger Perk coffee shop cost $113, 500 to build. Businesses from the local community not only donated money, but their services to help make it happen.