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Boise teacher uses coffee cart to teach students life skills

The students in Alex Hopkins' special education class are running a brand new business.

The students in Alex Hopkins' special education class are running a brand new business.  

"So this is called "The Grizz Grind," Hopkins explained. "Actually, this is only our first week up and running." 

"The Grizz Grind" as in the Riverglen Junior High Grizzlies. It's a coffee cart.  

"We make coffee for teachers," said eighth-grader Laylay Jones. 

And that's not all. The students take orders for coffee, lattes, mochas or hot chocolate from teachers, principals and staff.  They brew up their hot beverage of choice and then deliver the drinks.    

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They are practicing social skills.  

"Participating in a conversation and asking a question and waiting for a response," Hopkins said.

They are also learning life skills related math, such as dealing with measurements, money and management.   

"Teachers pay in cash so my students have to calculate change," Hopkins said. "We make sure they can go to the store and restock our coffee cart, set a budget, buy milk."

Hopkins received a nearly $600 grant from CapEd Credit Union to buy the coffee cart and supplies.  

"I just wanted a more applicable way to teach them some of those life skills," Hopkins said. "Make it kind of real-world scenarios."

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The students all have their favorite roles to play. 

Ninth-grader Mckay Majors is all about "making the coffee and delivering it," he said.

Laylay Jones likes making lattes a lot. 

"My favorite part is pouring the coffee and then putting the foam on it because it's pretty fun," Jones said.

Eighth-grader Ricky Reyes is motivated to move product and make money.  

"Making coffee, taking coffee to teachers and money," Reyes said.

"They do a really good job when put in roles of leadership, especially when given some structure to be successful in those roles," Hopkins said.

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The students are proving that every day as they quickly get a handle on running a brand new brew business.  

"I really like seeing them shine and being a leader in the school," Hopkins said.

Hopkins says the money the students earn will go back into the classroom for field trips and to restock the coffee cart.  

Alex Hopkins is this week's Innovative Educator.  

If you'd like to nominate a teacher as an Innovative Educator, you can email us at innovativeeducator@ktvb.com. 

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