Grand Opening of the Baldwin Bean: Student-run Café Teaches Students Real-world Skills

Baldwin High School's new student-run café, Baldwin Bean, opened for business November 2nd. The café functions as a real-world learning environment for students in a variety of disciplines. This is an expansion of the already-successful Partners model that has already been implemented in Physical Education and Music classes. Baldwin Bean provides the chance for dozens of students with complex learning needs to participate in various opportunities centered around job development.

The entire Baldwin High School community has been involved in the planning of this new undertaking, demonstrating the educational opportunities the café facilitates. The students have enthusiastically taken to the project and shown initiative and ownership. The menus were designed by students in Mr. Wodarek's graphic design course. The walls of the café are decorated with murals painted by Mrs. Foote's art class. The mobile Fab Lab was used to place the Baldwin Bean logo on travel mugs that will be available for purchase. Students in Mrs. Kilburn's business classes have been involved in planning and will help staff Baldwin Bean. Joyce Weber, Food Service Director for the District, has been integral to the project from the beginning and has assisted with procuring equipment and food for the café.

The café serves coffee, espresso drinks, tea, juice, and a variety of grab-and-go food items. Baldwin Bean even features an Otis Spunkmeyer oven to make fresh-baked cookies on-site. Patrons can pay with cash or through their school lunch accounts. Initially, Baldwin Bean will be open the first and second periods of the school day, with plans to expand hours in the future. In addition to the counter-service, the café features ample seating for students to gather and amenities, such as charging stations. The renovations were underwritten in part by generous donations from the Baldwin-Whitehall Education Foundation and Borough and Township Police Association.

Eric Jankoski and Joshua Stahl, Special Education teachers for the high school, initially came up with the idea for the café several years ago. They were encouraged in the idea by Randal Lutz, Superintendent of Schools, who emphasizes the value of non-traditional work-spaces to prepare students for college. Teachers can reserve Baldwin Bean for their classes; for example, if an English class is having a writing day, the change of scenery and relaxed environment can facilitate their creativity.

Jankoski underscores the value of Baldwin Bean as a career-training tool. He shares, "we're always looking for opportunities for students to gain real-world experience. This café offers an ideal setting for students to hone skills, such as customer-service and money skills, in a constructive environment. Students will learn transferable skills for many different jobs—it's an excellent résumé-builder and will prepare students for careers after high school."

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