Pioneer perks

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Pioneer perks

Izzy Colón, copy editor

Dawn Quello, freshman, awaits the 7:30 a.m. opening of the Pioneer Perks coffee shop. Quello, along with around 40 other students per morning arrive to school early to get their hands on a cup of iced coffee before class starts. Frequent visitors of the coffee shop may recognize familiar faces of student workers who dedicate time every day to helping out in the coffee shop.

Pioneer Perks was created in 2015 to provide special education students the opportunity to learn daily skills that can be applied to areas outside of school.

“It teaches [students] things like money skills and customer service,” Corinne Lagoy, special education teacher, said. “They have to sign in and out which teaches them about being on time for work. It’s important for them to learn so that way when they graduate high school they can have a job and hold down some sort of employment.”

For Hannah DeSherlia, senior, the skills learned at the coffee shop have already given her the skills to get a job. DeSherlia said she is glad she learned these skills which were helpful to her job.

“Greeting customers was definitely a big part of my job,” DeSherlia said. “[The coffee shop helped me] be more comfortable talking to people I don’t know.”

According to Lagoy, in addition to providing special education students with skills for jobs down the line, working in the coffee shop gives students confidence. The growing self- esteem in the students is what she says she enjoys the most about working with them. A major goal students work on in the coffee shop which helps them gain confidence is to become more independent in completing tasks, Lagoy said.

“The first time I did the coffee shop in sophomore year, I was slow, but I got faster and faster every time,” Sean Hogan, senior, said. “At first I was nervous [to talk to customers] but I’m not nervous anymore. I got used to it.”

This social interaction is another vital aspect of the coffee shop, Lagoy said. Some special education students are in classes with only other special education students; others only take a few classes with their other peers. The coffee shop gives students the opportunity to interact with the rest of the school in a way they wouldn’t be able to otherwise.

“They are with their peers but not [all of] their general education peers,” Lagoy said. “This gives them an opportunity to socialize with their general education peers in a natural environment.”

DeSherlia said she was able to help customers more and more as she adjusted to working in the coffee shop around a wider variety of her peers. After getting used to the basic conversation she said has adjusted to her position which has made her become more comfortable with other social aspects in her life.

“A few years ago I was less comfortable talking to people I don’t know,” DeSherlia said. “I used to get really nervous if someone would come up to me. But since I started working in the coffee shop I’ve actually started making a lot more friends.”

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