A work skills opportunity that began percolating last year for students in the St. Lucie Public Schools (SLPS) Exceptional Student Education (ESE) program is brewing again this year with bold expectations. On Tuesday, November 28, the student-run enterprise known as Student Perks will begin selling coffee, pastries, fresh fruit, and signature brand tumblers in a kiosk on the first floor breezeway of the Board of County Commissioners Administration Building located at 2300 Virginia Avenue in Fort Pierce.
The grand re-opening is slated for 9 AM. Patrons working in the Administration Building as well as customers from the general public are welcome to purchase items every Tuesday from 8:30 AM – 10:30 AM. The goal of the coffee shop is to support students in their effort to refine skills that will aid them as they transfer to competitive employment after high school. According to Job Coach Martha Taylor, “The coffee cart is a training gold mine. Student Perks offers our students opportunities to work with customers to flex their abilities in the areas of nutrition, money, marketing, social skills, safety, work ethics, and working with the public.”
This year, students from two high schools will man the kiosk — Port St. Lucie High School and Fort Pierce Westwood High School. Two returning students from last year’s inaugural team will serve as mentors for the nine other Student Perks team members. This will be important, because students are held to high standards. “It’s real work,” said Taylor. “First the students must excel in their schoolwork. Then, based upon recommendations from their teachers, the students interview for the various positions available in the Student Perks kiosk.” In keeping with the Student Perks tagline, “It’s more than coffee!”
Taylor and others who work with the students in the program laud the Board of County Commissioners and staff members in the Board of County Commissioners Administration Building for their support. She indicated that while participants in the Student Perks program receive support from a SLPS Job Coach, there is no better practical application of a skill than to use it when authentically interacting with customers.
All proceeds from the coffee shop will offset Student Perks’ expenses. For information, contact SLPS Job Coach Martha Taylor at 772-370-0891 or SLC Human Resources Manager Douglas Baber at 772- 462-5267.