BY TOMMY GIUFFRA AND CHERYL QUAYENORTEY
In December, the Shop-Rite program expanded to include a coffee shop for faculty and staff. The coffee shop runs during first block on “B days” and the Shop-rite stays open for staff and students through all lunch periods.
The students who work at Shoprite enjoy the experience of working in the class, and faculty members appreciate the opportunity and the convenience of the coffee shop. Angelica Zapantis said she enjoys “handling coffee and taking orders.”
Not only do the coffee shop and Shop-Rite provide a wide selection of affordable purchases, but they also allow students working in the program to figure out their career interests. “I just really want our students to be happy,” Co-director of the program Jessica DiMino said. “I want them to be happy in whatever choices, and I want them to know they have choices.”
The staff-only coffee shop and student-accessible Shoprite help students grow comfortable with diverse ways to interact with different people, building skills they can carry to a myriad of other job sites. Zapantis said, “Most people like their coffee black.”
The coffee shop prepares students, post-graduation for the workforce. DiMino said, “Mrs. Villa [initially] started a job coaching program at the high school [over a decade ago] where we took our students out of the building, and they did job sampling in the community, which they still do right now; it’s like a steppingstone to our Shoprite program.” Students who work in this program have the opportunity to experience real-life jobs that give them some insight regarding possible career paths.
Eventually, Mrs. DiMino and Mrs. Villa expanded the program. “A couple years ago, we were presented with this opportunity to open up a fully functioning store in the high school, where our students do everything behind the scenes,” Mrs. DiMino explained.
Working at the coffee shop involves more behind the scenes work than people might think. Students must learn step by step how to make coffee for the customers. Zapantis said, “Mrs. DiMino and Mrs. Villa gave lots of demonstrations.” Mrs. DiMino and Mrs. Villa help the students gain knowledge and gain work experience while also enjoying their jobs.
The students learn new things every day while working at the coffee shop in preparation to enter the workforce. Jillian Dolan said, “We practiced making the coffee for ourselves.”
Students who work at the school Shoprite, and now the Coffee Shop, gain not only interpersonal relationships with regulars that come in, but also learn skills only gained from life experiences. Jillian said, “I like giving people their drinks.” The coffee shop can open the doors for new customers and friendships.
Posted on 2/25/22
Photos by Gaby Master