Guilford County students with special needs strengthen social skills through coffee shop programs

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GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. -- Students with special needs in Guilford County are strengthening their social skills through coffee shop programs serving staff members.

For three weeks, students at Christine Joyner Education Center have been operating the “Mustang Café” as a part of teacher Bonnie Christina's career development class.

“My entire purpose is to makes sure that every child gets exposure no matter what their level and as you can see we make a lot of modifications and adaptations to make sure that works,” Christina said.

Christina presented the idea from her previous school district to the CJ Greene PTA Board and they started with existing funding.

Teachers and staff can order hot chocolate, coffee or tea through a QR Code app and then the students deliver to the classrooms.

“It’s not even about the counting and the academic part it’s about the social interaction and completing the process,” Christina said.

For the past two and a half years, Greg Desern and Joy Watson have been helping to guide special need students at the “Brew Thru” at T. Wingate Andrews High School.

The students take turns running the morning standalone shop,  gaining experience to someday apply off campus.

“[It gives] the staff the experience of interacting with the students because it breaks down some the barriers of people not being comfortable,” Watson said. “It’s so easy to love these kids when you just interact with them.”​

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