Some real life experience is making it possible for a small group of teens learning math in the school coffee shop to learn business, enterprise, and higher math concepts. 

Students at Sierra School of Butte County are running a small business selling lattes and other drinks for paying customers, and are learning all about enterprise. 

Teens Learning Math in the School Coffee Shop

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To the teacher who put Espresso Yourself together, it’s a chance for the school’s special needs student to learn life skills along with math.

Monday morning, four boys bustled around the small kitchen at the former Eastside School facility. The business operates daily from 8:15-10:15 a.m. during a math segment.

Cole Tanner, 15, busily prepared a mocha coffee and checked several orders, with the assistance of classmate Ben Beckstrand.

Before working their shift, the youth first had to punch in time cards.

Teens Learning Math in the School Coffee Shop

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Teacher Sherrie Noel manages the endeavor and helps with dishes and other needs, but 17-year-old Jake Garrett is her right-hand-man.

“Jake is my assistant manager,” Noel said. “He knows all the recipes and all the stations.”

Customers include school staff and employees who work next door at the Oroville City Elementary School District office.

The menu is simple: peppermint hot chocolate, eggnog lattes, mocha lattes, house coffee and pastry.

Espresso Yourself opened last December.

Garrett said they’ve been learning how to work in a coffee shop, how it runs and how to work with people.

The boys said it’s fun.

“I make my own mochas every morning,” said Tanner. “We have a lot of fun in the workplace. The nicest part is the satisfaction.”

They’re busy every day, too, filling between 20 and 25 orders every day.

Tanner said they have learned the proper way to act when someone gives an order. There have been some “curves” and “holdups” in the day-to-day operation, but they’re learning coping skills through it, Tanner said.

While delivering coffees, Ryan Phillips, 16, indicated the endeavor helps on multiple levels and builds his self confidence, especially when he takes coffees to people at OCESD.

“It helps me with math, and when I feel angry in the morning, it calms me down because these people I’m going to next, they cheer me up,” he said.

To the students, there is only one reason for the enterprise: outdated math textbooks and going over the same chapters repeatedly.

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Teens Learning Math in the School Coffee Shop

Click image to purchase book