VOICES: The Kick Coffee Shop at T.C. Williams Pioneers Inclusion

The VOICES podcast is back for Season 2!

T.C. Williams’ The Kick serves up hot beverages and smiles each morning and also provides students with disabilities an on-site opportunity to get practical experience prior to joining the greater community workforce. Take a listen to Autism Resource Teacher Donsu Spratt and Paraprofessional Sally “The Boss” Schneider as they talk shop — coffee shop, that is.


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(Sally Schneider) I believe Samir learned how to make an iced coffee today. Because one of his co-workers.

(Samir) Stephanie helped me.

(Sally Schneider) Stephanie helped. So, that’s helping to train people who come in after and how nice that must be. To have somebody knows what they’re doing. Make you feel comfortable and help you learn your job.

(Donsu Spratt) TC is renowned for inclusion and a time of racial coming together.And, so everybody watches a movie and everybody talks about it. It’s a big deal. And I always say that TC is now pioneering disability inclusion. And the Kick is a beautiful way that they can do that. And for the most part, most students, are very kind to our students. And, they treat them as equals. Other are, treat them as if they’re in a mentoring situation and, it’s beautiful to see so, it’s creating a climate of wonderful general education students. In addition, to having an inclusion opportunity for the kids who are in.

(coffee pouring sound)

(whipped cream sound)

(Kick Customer) Oh lord, this is wonderful. Thank you for the coffee.

(Sally Scheider) Thank you for helping out.

(Kick Customer) Pleasure.

(Sally Schneider) We have a couple of kids who are more challenged. One who’s non verbal and one whose almost non verbal. And they are so excited to do something. They can contribute.And, you can, you can feel their energy and, see their smiles. And, see how engaged they are,and, see how proud they are.

(Kick student 1)So, ok, powder went everywhere.

(Kick student 2) I’ll clean it up.

(Kick student 1) Okay.

(Sally Schneider) For them to be able to do something. Which, is the whole point of this program is to give them more experience. So, when they get out into the world, it’s not new. So, we had problems. We’ve fallen short on some things and it’s great for them to go through and help me with inventory, and help me with setup instructions and to see what I have forgotten. So it’s I think it’s process of evolution.

(Donsu Spratt) It is.

(Sally Schneider) TC is making a difference.

(Donsu Spratt) They are. We’re going to do our first in employee of the month election. And they’ll be elected.

(Sally Schneider) Oooo. I didn’t know. I was wondering how we did that.

(Donsu Spratt) And they’ll get their own specially colored apron and that’s a real self-esteem booster.

(Sally Schneider) So, we’re going to hold these aside somewhere.

(Kick student 3) Okay.

(Sally Schneider) Pull these lids out. And, let’s replenish with these lids and these cups, okay?

These kids, you know this is how they hold their drink. For them, to reach their arms out and deliver, is a big thing. We don’t think a thing of it. But, for them it’s a big thing. To be able to finish, to learn that step and complete that step, and that’s, you know. And that’s one of the really basic things that the Kick does, for self esteem. Confidence. Just basic skills. It’s really humbling.

(Interviewer) What has this done for you?

(Sally Schneider) Oh great, are you kidding me? You always learn more from these kids.

(Donsu Spratt) That’s why she took the job.

(Sally Schneider) Yeah I knew what I was getting into. That’s why I took the job and well, social skills is great too.

(Donsu Spratt) Yeah.

(Sally Schneider) What do I get a lot out of it? We can live in a stinky world, and they remind me it’s not so stinky. It also let’s us celebrate the small successes and makes us be more grateful. And, the underlining curriculum for this class is really to teach professionalism to these kids.Who, the goals, is for them to have independence and to be able to be self-sufficient and have job in the community. And, we’re instilling that in them. So, that they’ll have the tool set to be successful and independent. So, that makes us feel real good. Yeah, cause these kids we marginalize. I mean, when I was growing up these kids would not have had this opportunity. They would’ve been filed away and put somewhere. Where, they would never had a productive life. And, now they’re allowed to dream.

ACPS, Alexandria City High School, Measuring What Matters, Special Education, VOICES