HARWICH – Mornings just aren't the same without a comforting cup of java, tea, or hot cocoa, especially now that the weather is growing cooler. That's probably why the folks at Monomoy Regional High School are all abuzz about the SHORE Program's latest venture: the Jawsome Java SHORE Cafe.
Special Education teacher Shana Grogan, who helms the SHORE (Students Having Opportunities for Recreation and Employment) program, said the idea came when considering more ways to help her students gain real-world experiences that would help them in ways both social and professional.
“We needed to get more training for the students,” she said. “I figure the best way to start the process of learning is to make our Jawsome Java Coffee Cafe.”
Each morning, Joseph Gallante pours Grogan a cup of coffee, something he looks forward to. That gesture sparked the concept for the newly formed Jawsome Java program. Each Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday the SHORE students get everything prepared and set out on their deliveries, which always bring a smile.
The cafe helps students learn not only how to make a mean cup of java, but also how to handle money, how to take and fulfill an order, how to set up, organize, and break down the cart, and how to budget, all vital real-world skills.
“That way they can get all the training in money, inventory, ordering, pouring, buying, everything,” said Grogan. “It's real-world experience that's hard to learn on the job, so they can learn it in here and do it out in the real world.”
The program kicked off at the beginning of this month and already has a following, with teachers paying well in advance for their Jawsome Java breaks. Just last week the program began including students, who were offered hot chocolate and hot apple cider during the school's enrichment hour, known as Jawsome.
Gallante said being part of Jawsome Java is, well, awesome.
“I would say that to me it's pretty awesome, us doing it,” Gallante said. “I really like to hand people some coffee and pour some coffee for other people.”
Gallante said the best part is that it makes people happy.
“Including me,” he said.
Brendan Pawlina also has a favorite part.
“Saying hi to everybody,” he said. “It's fun.”
“It's really helpful,” said Grogan. “It teaches the kids their money skills, communication, fine motor skills, math. They have to do the inventory. The Excel sheets. They read everything. They have to figure out all the data entry, and we keep track. It really is a small business right here in the room.”
Prior to opening, there was a good deal of behind-the-scenes work that had to happen, including ordering stamps for the napkins that Rory Farris hands out with each cup of coffee, the baseball caps each Jawsome Java “employee” wears, travel mugs with Jawsome Java logos, and, of course, the coffee. Technology teacher Larry Souza made them their official Jawsome Java sign, which is proudly displayed on the rolling cart bearing regular and decaffeinated coffee, hot water for tea and cocoa, hot apple cider, and just about everything anyone would want to make the perfect cup, including flavored creamers.
For non-verbal students, or students with speech challenges, Grogan has them use a speech app on her smartphone with pre-programmed messages they can use to communicate with customers.
“It's been very well received,” said Grogan, who said that the goals of the program extend beyond MRHS. “I'm hoping that they can learn here the social skills needed in a small work environment, the important of cleanliness, how to persevere when there are issues, to not have anxiety, but to just keep on going and problem solve, so once they go into the real world they can be productive citizens and feel fulfilled.”
It is Grogan's ideal that each of the SHORE students leaves Monomoy prepared for life after high school.
“This cafe gives them real life training in a structured environment with caring customers, students and staff,” Grogan said. “That will enhance the very essence of the districts core values. We hope to expand our Jawsome Java SHORE Cafe into the community and make pop-up appearances at local functions, police and fire departments, and senior centers.”
SHORE student William Ramos said being a part of the Jawsome Java Cafe is special. Ramos is in charge of handling the money, which gives him a boost.
“I'm proud of myself,” he said.
Folks can find Jawsome Java at tonight's Harlem Wizards fundraising event beginning at 6:30 p.m., and the SHORE Program will be selling Shark Bites, jars filled with dry ingredients for making cookies and bars, at craft fairs on Nov. 2 at MRHS, Nov. 9 and 10 at Cape Cod Tech, and Nov. 16 in Chatham. Also look for The Ramos Report by William Ramos coming soon in our School News section.