Max Shearon sat behind the cash register at the Eastchester High School Café while his classmates Michael Bartley and Samuel Onukwue explained what treats were for sale that day. The students are members of the Life Skills Program and gain a sense of achievement every Friday when they work at the café, a large classroom located in the high school building.
"I either sell the food or work the cash register. I like talking to the people," said Samuel Onukwue.
"I smile and I thank people. I like meeting new people," said Michael Bartley
Faculty members and administrators from both the high school and middle school have been stopping by for 12 years to end the work-week with a homemade cookie or brownie and a fresh cup of coffee.
Special Education teacher Nora Flynn started the program. "I am so proud to see the students interacting with the members of our school community and working together. The skills they are learning will help them succeed after they leave high school," said Flynn.
The students are involved with all aspects of the café including planning the menu, making shopping lists, taking inventory, buying supplies and assigning tasks.
The café is open for about two hours and participants also play puzzles and word games with other students and teachers, some who come from other schools in the District. This interaction develops the students’ social skills.
"Over the years I have seen how our students have grown working in the cafe. The experiences that they are gaining build upon the work they accomplish every day in the classrooms and as part of our entire curriculum. This includes our School to Work Partnership where students receive job-training in the Eastchester Community," said Assistant Superintendent of Pupil Personnel Dr. Noreen Urso.
Maggie Porcaro is a graduate of the Life Skills Program and is currently working in the Eastchester Public Library.