- Who We Are
- Where We Stand
- Our Rights
- Our Benefits
- Our Chapters
- ADAPT Community Network
- Administrative Education Officers and Analysts
- Adult Education
- Block Institute
- Education Officers & Education Analysts
- Family Child Care Providers
- Federation of Nurses
- Hearing Education Services
- Hearing Officers (Per Session)
- Occupational / Physical Therapists
- Retired Teachers
- School Counselors
- School Nurses
- School Secretaries
- Social Workers & Psychologists
- Speech Improvement
- Supervisors of Nurses & Therapists
- Teachers Assigned
- Charter School Chapters
- Other DOE Chapters
- Other Non-DOE Chapters
- Get Involved
- Career Timeline
- CTLE / LearnUFT
- Classroom Resources
- Courses / Workshops
- English Language Learners
- Job Opportunities
- Positive Learning Collaborative
- Professional Development Resources
- Students with Disabilities
- Teacher Center
- Teacher Leadership
- Teacher's Choice
- Team High School
UFT.org Home > News > New York Teacher > Feature stories > School cafe offers ‘real-world experience’
The Riverview Cafe is open for business.
Moments after the formal ribbon-cutting ceremony on Feb. 13 that officially opened the door, the cash register began ringing as high school students at the Riverview School who are running the cafe began serving a line of lunchtime customers. While the cafe is open daily for staff and students in the three District 75 schools co-located in the Long Island City building, it has a more important mission.
“In this simulated workplace, students are experiencing a real-life work environment and learning to deal with curve balls they don’t get in the classroom,” said Chapter Leader Pascual Lleras, who spearheaded the project.
The students, who have multiple disabilities, run the cafe from the ground up. They prepare shopping lists, buy, display, market, sell and, at the end of the day, inventory their merchandise — which includes soup, coffee, snacks, fruit and water.
They are also improving their social skills and learning how to deal with difficult customers, having role-played scenarios in the classroom before becoming retailers.
Jill Guzzardo, a special education teacher and a school-based coach, said a parent who couldn’t take her son into stores because he lacked the social skills to behave no longer has that problem as the boy focuses on what it takes to be part of the business.
Students with a more artistic bent are creating swag-bag gift items and cards appropriate to the season for the cafe inventory. Teacher Kelli Ferrara worked with her class of five students on the “step-by-step procedure” of artfully crafting and packaging a variety of Valentine’s Day gifts.
Real-world issues of competition and taxes have also been part of the learning curve. At the Riverview Cafe, you can buy an ice-cold Snapple for one dollar, while a nearby merchant charges $2.50. And students are now over their surprise at having to add tax to the purchases on their first shopping trip.
The cafe is designed to meet the needs of students like Stefan, who was turned away when he interviewed for a job at CVS because he lacked experience.
“This real-world experience provides our students with skills they can take out into the community to become independent and successful,” said Margot Owen, a special education teacher and school-based coach.
Where would you most like to take students on a spring field trip?
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Alley Pond Environmental Center
Snug Harbor Cultural Center
Total votes: 168