Iguana Cafe Opens for Business at Stafford Intermediate School

Oct 04, 2017
Photo by: Ryan Morrill

Surrounded by classmates and friends on Sept. 29, Brooke Davis cheerfully sliced in half the red ribbon being held by several others, marking the beginning of a new era at Stafford Intermediate School. The Iguana Café was ready for business.

“It’s exciting,” said Emma Johnson, one of the students in on the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “We’re going to sell lots of bagels, coffee, tea, water and muffins, and all my friends are going to have so much fun with me doing it.”

The Iguana Café, appropriately named for the school mascot, is a new educational initiative for some of the Intermediate School’s special education classes, one that will include the opportunity for students to develop more hands-on life skills in organization, math, communication and teamwork. Starting Monday, Oct. 2, at 8 a.m., students were all set to start taking orders from school staff.

“The cafe will help our students with very important skills,” said teacher Theresa Delendra, who along with Jenelle Kreybig will be overseeing the cafe’s operation and managing the student staff. “They’re going to learn work skills, life skills and social skills that will help them become as independent as they can as they get older.”

Developed by Delendra and Kreybig after they had visited Southern Regional Middle School and witnessed a similar operation, they approached Superintendent George Chidiac for approval to go forward with the idea. Once given the go-ahead by Chidiac and Supervisor of Special Services Hope Scherlin, they converted a scarcely used all-purpose room into the cafe, complete with a refrigerator, stove, multiple microwaves, toaster oven and cabinetry donated by Taylor Made Cabinets.

“It was a no-brainer,” Chidiac said. “We have a big special education population and a lot of parents send their children to our district because we have good programs, and this is just one example of the types of programs we incorporate to help educate our students. It’s a really important step in educating them on these life skills, and we have awesome teachers who are going to do that.”

The learning process began with preparations to open the in-school store – developing an initial list of items needed to operate effectively as well food and beverage items to sell, going to the local Costco to shop for the necessary items, and then stocking the store and setting up for its opening.

From there, the students will take orders via Chromebook, fulfill the orders, deliver breakfast items to teachers in their classrooms and account for the money received and return change if needed. For school personnel who opt to visit the cafe in Room 302, students will fulfill orders on site and handle the purchase transaction using the cash register.

For now, students will deal primarily with continental breakfast-type items such as bagels, muffins, coffee, tea and juice. But depending on the success of the cafe – based mainly on how the students develop in their skills – the future of the cafe also may include various lunch items, such as soups and sandwiches.

The Iguana Café, which is only open to school administration and staff, is slated to be open at 8 a.m. Monday through Friday, with the possibility of expanded hours later in the school year.

“When we saw what Southern was doing, we came back and said, ‘Why can’t we do it?’ It’s just another way to teach our students skills they’re going to use later,” Kreybig said. “It will prepare them for when they go to the middle school and high school, and then the work force. And they enjoy this kind of thing. We do our Holiday Store, and the students make the crafts, sell them and raise money for a charity. And that’s when we see them shine. This is something similar.”

— David Biggy


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