By Celeste Amron, Elise Bilodeau, Tillie Davies and Kristy Kocot
“T.C. is known for equal rights so this is the new phase… people being compassionate, fair, equal, and giving everyone a chance, [The Kick Coffee Shop] is changing the climate of our school, which will change the climate of the whole world,” said Donsu Spratt. She and Wendy Campbell are the teachers that oversee The Kick, which is run by students in the special education program.
T.C. is known for its diverse environment and acceptance of all types of people. Although this school has a reputation for the inclusion of everyone, the special education program is often overlooked. “Their world at T.C. is pretty small,” said Spratt.
The Kick provides an opportunity for the special education and general education students to interact. Campbell said, “We have kids who don’t get a lot of exposure to the general education population. So they’re so excited to have an opportunity to interact with the students that come to the coffee shop.”
Nine students normally run The Kick: freshman Teyana Ketter, sophomore Sara Fesseha, and junior David Blakney are some of the students that work there. They all love the job. “It’s fun to make drinks,” said Ketter.
The Kick sells hot and cold drinks for $1 and pastries for $2. “We have coffee cake and chocolate muffins,” Fesseha said. The Kick also serves lemonade, hot chocolate, Arnold Palmer (lemonade and iced tea), iced black tea, and hot green or black tea.
Students who work in The Kick learn how to make each drink. Fesseha said, “You have to practice the whipped cream [for the hot chocolate]; first you have to shake it and then you put it upside down.”
The Kick is located next to the auditorium. Students and teachers can order drinks and pastries online or place walk up orders. Every teacher at TC was sent a link for online ordering. Students must ask their teachers for permission to share the link and order online. Campbell said, “[When] we get the online orders, the students fill the orders, and then we have a delivery team.”
“I like delivering drinks to teachers,” Fesseha said.
If the students conduct a successful week in the Kick, they are rewarded with a treat.
“If someone works harder they get to be the Employee of the Month,” Fesseha said. José Ortiz is Employee of the Month in October. The Employee of the Month gets his or her name on the wall and may receive additional rewards on Thursdays.
The Kick is the students’ Career Prep Class. “This class takes place of what a science and social studies class would be, but focusing on career preparation,” said Spratt.
The Coffee Shop is more than just a class; it prepares its students for the real world. “This is a fantastic training for them. They have to learn how to work independently, problem solve, and communicate,” said Campbell.
“Not only is [the Kick] part of the curriculum, it’s what these students need to be successful, it’s their first step in hands on job training,” said Spratt. “It’s a great self-esteem boost because they feel like they’re capable and independent and already we’re seeing them be really positive.
Though the Kick provides T.C. students with refreshing beverages and snacks, it also provides a happy learning environment for the kids who run the coffee shop. They continue to grow intellectually and socially every day by interacting with the customers. “It is changing the climate of the school… we’re making a huge difference and impacting people’s outlook on full inclusion and having full acceptance,” said Spratt.
“We get teary eyed all the time,” said Spratt. The positivity and inclusiveness of The Kick is what makes T.C. Williams the school it is today.