Hewitt: Special education students get ready to open a coffee shop

(Photo by Ke'Sha Lopez)
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HEWITT, Texas (KWTX) A group of special education students at Midway Middle School is getting ready to open a campus coffee shop.

The Red White and Brew coffee shop aims to help students sharpen their skills and get ready for high school and the work force.

Jason Blanek, the owner of Shipley Donuts in Woodway, is mentoring the group.

Tuesday he reviewed an important lesson on following health and safety guidelines by washing their hands properly.

He is teaching them about making customers feel welcome and how to make great coffee.

"We want to give them a good start so they can hit the ground running. Give them some basic skills in cleanliness and how to talk to customers. We haven't gotten to handling the money part yet. I think that's the next step."

Blanek said he comes from a long line of restaurant owners and caterers, dating back to his relatives in San Angelo.

The in-school coffee shop will cater to the teachers and staff and it will be open on Fridays.

Customers will submit their orders using a bar code online and then twice a day the baristas will deliver.

"In our vocational class, we learn a lot of skills that have to do with work habits and attitudes and getting ready to be employable one day at the end of high school,” said Jackie Villareal, a Midway Middle School special education teacher.

She said the experience is meant to also boost students’ self-confidence.

Blanek said he has employed some students coming from Midway's programs.

The coffee shop is getting set up with about $550 in grant money from the Midway ISD Education Foundation.

While the money is a grant, the class is working to come up with ways of paying it back, treating it like a business loan.

The students aim to pay it back and still be able to sustain the business, even expand it in the future if need be.

The students will hold a ribbon cutting event in the school library soon.