MASON CITY, Iowa - A business operating inside Lincoln Intermediate School in Mason City is giving special needs students a shot at learning entrepreneurial and life skills.
5th graders in Brenna Bothwell's class operate a once a week business called "The Bean." Each week, teachers and faculty turn in orders for either coffee, hot chocolate or herbal tea, and on Tuesdays, students deliver them around the school, as well as to the District Administrative Center and Roosevelt Elementary.
Bothwell came up with the idea after she found a similar program on Instagram, and says that it teaches a lot of life skills.
"We're working with money so they have to be able to recognize and identify money, and they have to be able to count it. And they also have to be following the directions in order to make the coffee. They have to have hygiene skills so they're not drinking out of the cups or anything like that."
It's a positive experience for students, encouraging work and fun, as well as building relationships.
"Any kind of jobs that we can incorporate in the school setting that would help prepare students with disabilities for their future employment of what life is going to look like when they get older, that's the greatest thing we can do as a teacher."
Cooper Garrison participates in the program, and when the service first started last month, he says it was met with a positive reaction from faculty.
"The first day we has Mrs. Hugi, she's part of the 6th grade. She was so excited, she even stopped her class to announce it."
Bothwell adds that the concept could be implemented elsewhere.
"Feel free to reach out to people that you think might not be willing to do something like this because you never know what people are going to say. And in the long run, more people are willing to help out compared to not willing to help out."
For start-up costs, the school's PTO sponsored $500 for the program. Since the program's launch, the program has made that money back.
Bothwell hopes that the program can continue with incoming students.
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