- Associated Press - Sunday, December 2, 2018

MASON CITY, Iowa (AP) - The Bean, a weekly coffee club run by entrepreneurial fifth-graders, is in full grind at Lincoln Intermediate in Mason City.

It began this fall with asking principals if students could start a hot drinks club for teachers and staff, special education teacher Brenna Bothwell told The Globe Gazette . Lincoln Intermediate’s parent teacher organization then donated $500 toward start-up costs.

Special education students run The Bean and are assisted by peer partners from fifth-grade general education classes who show leadership skills and demonstrate positive behaviors.

“The students are really excited about it and take ownership in it - it’s all about them,” Bothwell said. “Generally, my kids are the ones who are pulled out.”

While being part of The Bean is enjoyable for her students and their peer partners, Bothwell said it’s also helped her kids work on their social, vocational and hygiene skills, as well as math, reading, listening and following directions.

On Friday mornings, the “Helper Beans” don name tags and aprons they tie-dyed themselves, working together for an hour on tasks like brewing coffee and hot chocolate with a Keurig machine, reviewing order forms, assembling orders and delivering drinks ordered through an online form. Students average about 30 orders a week, which they are able to complete in about an hour.

Afterward, they clean up, and Bothwell’s students make bills for educators’ mailboxes. Any money earned goes back into the project to make it self-sufficient.

Cooper Garrison, 10, was on delivery duty Nov. 1. As he approached with teacher Lisa Hugi’s order, she broke into a big grin.

“It’s my coffee day!” she exclaimed.

Hugi, who teaches sixth-grade science and social studies, said she thinks The Bean is “absolutely amazing” as it helps students develop lifelong skills and build relationships.

“And it makes us happy,” she said.

Jaylan Brown, 11, and Kacey Bailey, 10, have becomes buddies through The Bean.

“At my last school, I didn’t know people like Jaylan,” Bailey said. “We’re friends now.”

As Brown and Bailey worked as coffee cooks, Brown carefully read a list of instructions aloud.

“We’re making coffee and having fun,” Brown said of their duties. “It’s hard to have Kacey leave; I’m going to miss her.”

Peer partners and jobs rotate every month at The Bean.

Noah Becker and Kenadie Pearce, both 10, worked together to complete orders by putting cream or sugar on top of the drink and a sticker over the lid.

“I like helping and friends,” Becker said. “I like to work with Kenadie.”

Garrison, who was taking a break from delivery, said he likes being able to work with his friend, Evie, who was his “best bud” while they attended Roosevelt Elementary.

“I’m happy to deliver,” he said. “I like making teachers smile.”

Bothwell said the program will continue as she moves with her students to sixth grade, and hopes it will start again as she gets new students after that.

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Information from: Globe Gazette, http://www.globegazette.com/


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