Learning business: Norge Elementary students open a coffee cart

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JAMES CITY COUNTY, Va. (WAVY) — So much can be said about a cup of joe. For many of us, that cup of coffee can start our day off right.

It’s also a popular treat for the hard-working teachers at Norge Elementary School in James City County. But their coffee cart means more than just a caffeine fix.

Here’s how it gives students a life lesson – one cup at a time.

At Norge Elementary, they not only teach reading, writing, and arithmetic, but they teach students to deal with real-life experiences one sip at a time.

Down the hall from Norge Elementary is the extreme Lama cafe.

It’s a coffee cart created by three teachers that gives students with disabilities the chance to learn skills they can apply in the real world.

“They learn to talk to their peers. Follow directions. Follow a script. And also to assemble other objects to have a successful project. said Erin Westover, with Norge Elementary.

Take kids out of the classroom and create real-world experiences like engaging in conversation and making change. Basically, they run a business.

“Builds trust. And their ability to be part of their community. In a practical and functional way,” said Madison Kent of Norge Elementary.

The coffee cart collects $1.50 cash for coffee, tea or hot chocolate. And students must clock in and clock out to get paid. The money is deposited in bank accounts.

“So they know what a deposit means and what a withdrawal means. We relate this to addition and subtraction. So when you drop something, you add something. When you take something away, you subtract,” Kent said.

Ultimately, they learn the benefits of having a job and earning a salary.

“What do you get when you work hard? What do you get?” Westover asked a student.

“Money?” a student answered.

“You get money – yes!” said Westover.

Students involved in the coffee cart don’t just make coffee – they also learn business skills and develop and build confidence along the way.

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