OJH Teachers Surprise Students with New Coffee Cart
Students in Tamara Jackson’s life skill class at Ozark Junior High have been brightening the days of teachers and staff by going from room to room with coffee and flavored creamers in the mornings and iced tea in the afternoons. Jackson, a special education teacher, thought it was a chance for students to give back to the staff while learning job skills.
On May 21, however, teachers turned the tables — or in this case, the cart — surprising students with a brand new cart, personalized aprons and towels, and a money box.
“We wanted to be a part of their lives, and this gave us the opportunity,” OJH teacher Carrie Woods said. “It took me two days to raise $200 because teachers love the coffee cart so much. We wanted to give back. We just really appreciate them.”
While teachers enjoy the daily visits — and the extra caffeine — they noticed the old overhead projector cart was not best suited for what has become known as Jackson’s Java. So, teachers started secretly collecting money to purchase students a new coffee cart.
“Hopefully they feel better about selling us their goods with a professional coffee cart,” Woods said.
Helping students feel good is part of the reason Jackson started the cart after spring break in the first place.
“When we first started, we had kids who didn’t know how to say hello to strangers. We had kids who wouldn’t go into classrooms of people they didn’t know,” she said. “Oftentimes self-contained classrooms can feel very disconnected from the rest of the school. This coffee and tea cart has been a way for our class to connect with the rest of the school, to be a part of something that is schoolwide.”
Jackson said the cart has allowed students to work on counting money and making change, social communication and filling orders. Students also bake goodies — chocolate chip cookies or brownies — to bag and sell on Fridays, which is teaching students independent living skills such as how to follow recipes, measuring and how to use the oven. Students also learn how to uses a washer and dryer, cleaning the dish towels.
“It kind of hits all those functional skills in one package,” Jackson said. “I’ve had many people tell me that this coffee cart has been the highlight of their day, and seeing how much improvement these kids have made while working on the coffee cart is great.”
Jackson said she teared up when she first learned that teachers were raising money to buy items for her students.
“For the staff to come together and do this for us is heart-warming and completely unexpected,” she said. “I just want to say thank you to everybody who donated to help make this happen. I don’t have words that express how grateful I am that you guys support our class and love our kids just as much as we do. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.”