Every time lunch falls during C block, sophomores Kyra Wildanger and Connor McGrath sell coffee and tea to teachers through a new student-run business called the Coffee Clipper.
The Coffee Clipper is run by students in the Navigator program, which serves Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) students with moderate to severe intellectual or developmental disabilities. In the program, teachers and students work together to develop self-advocacy, independent thinking, and various other skills helpful in making a path into the workforce.
Keren Albiston, a teacher in the Life Skills program, started the Coffee Clipper to help her students gain real-world work experience. “We just wanted more opportunities for vocational experience, so starting a business seemed like a good way to do that,” said Mrs. Albiston.
Everyone in the Navigator program contributes to running the Coffee Clipper. “Some people help with things like the artwork, making the advertisements, or designing the signs,” said Mrs. Albiston. Through the interactions with customers, the students work on job skills, including following through with an action from beginning to end, handling money, and understanding the significance of what a dollar can do.
“They’re also going to donate the money, so part of the goal is to understand charity and giving, and being able to tie that in with the proceeds — so be able to get money and be able to do that job-wise, and to also take that money and do good in the world with it,” said Mrs. Albiston.
During the first half of lunch, students sell coffee at a table set up in front of the Navigator room, and during the second half, they make deliveries to teachers who have filled out an online form to have coffee delivered to them in their classrooms for $1.
Senior Imani Hall has been working with many of the Navigator students since her freshman year. “It’s been my passion for working with them and seeing them evolve and grow up. I T.A. a vocational period, so I can spend one-on-one time with them,” said Imani.
Connor likes participating in the program for the social aspect of the work. “My favorite part has been telling people to have a nice day,” said Connor.
Through all the time Imani has spent with the students, she has been able to see changes in them as they grow older. “Because they’re the ones who sell the coffee, I get to watch them progress and learn. In the beginning, we were working together on communicating with people, but at this point, I barely have to prompt them,” said Imani. “There’s a lot of growth.”