Students develop life skills at Penn-Trafford coffee shop

Penn-Trafford School District  |  Posted on

Mrs. Enick displays the proper technique for scooping the perfect cookie ball

In addition to their standard school courses, the Life Skills students at Penn-Trafford High School enjoy working in the school’s “Coffee for a Cause” coffee shop, where they bake cookies, make coffee, take orders, use the cash register and manage kitchen cleanup. The students are supervised by Life Skills teacher Tera Enick and job coaches Jeanne Rush and Linda Loughner. The coffee shop experience helps to build real life skills that will transfer into the workforce; skills from math and communications to working in a commercial kitchen.

Recently, the school’s food service (Aramark) team presented a new option for the coffee shop’s cookies – making the chocolate chip cookie dough from scratch rather than purchasing frozen, preformed dough. The Life Skills staff jumped on the opportunity to provide another skill for their students. Prior to the students entering the kitchen, Mrs. Enick taught a lesson on how to take a recipe that makes 21 cookies and turn it into a recipe that will produce 105 cookies. However, after the first batch, it became apparent that 105 cookies were not enough to keep up with the demand. Students were therefore taught how to double that number to produce over 200 cookies. Now, the group heads to the school’s kitchen to measure each ingredient, use the commercial mixer and then scoop out each cookie ball to be frozen, bagged and baked during the week. This occurs under the watchful eye of Aramark’s Chef Melissa Milko and the Life Skills staff.

When asked, one coffee shop student stated that even though it is more work, it is fun to use the big mixer and to learn from the Aramark staff. Customers appear to love the taste of the homemade cookies. “We are always looking for ways to introduce new skills to the students,” said job coach Loughner, “even if it is more work for all involved.”

The Life Skills department is considering introducing other types of cookies in the future.