Texas Teacher’s Coffee on Wheels Initiative Empowers Students With Special Needs

April 26, 2019 Updated: May 1, 2019

“Life Skills” is becoming an important subject that schools can now no longer afford to ignore. These essential skills help students transition from young kids to responsible adults.

A special-education teacher at Grand Oaks High School, Texas, has become a sensation after she came up with a brilliant idea to help her students learn life skills.

Shelby Winder had just started her career as a first-year teacher for students with significant cognitive impairment and adaptive disabilities. She loves her students and believes that they are no less capable even though their way of learning is different.

Happy Monday students and staff. Have a great week!

Posted by Grand Oaks HS PTO on Monday, September 10, 2018

“Yes, they all have different abilities, but what I want people to see is that, even though their abilities are so different, they absolutely can hold jobs,” Winder told KBTX.

To empower students with special needs, she came up with a coffee cart idea. Every Friday, the students push a cart called the “Grizzly Bean” around school premises delivering orders to teachers.

Posted by Grand Oaks HS PTO on Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Winder’s friend Chris Field was clearly impressed with what she was doing and reached out for more information.

He wrote on a Facebook post: “Shelby came up with the brilliant idea of wanting to empower her students this year in some way that was meaningful and would outlast their time with her in the classroom. So, she started buying all of the things they would need to start a traveling coffee cart.”

“Most importantly, this would allow the students to practice their social skills, communication, working through their shyness, and even learning how to run a simple business by calculating their expenses and profits,” he added.

Meet my friend Shelby. This is her first year of teaching Life Skills (which includes students with significant…

Posted by Chris Field on Monday, September 3, 2018

The Grizzly Bean was officially opened for business on Aug. 24, 2018, and it met with huge success on “Day 1,” Winder shared on a Facebook post.

She personally interviewed the kids and assigned them their jobs with the coffee on wheels. The kids are absolutely loving their job as they learn how to be good baristas at a coffee shop. The students work hard all week long to prepare the cart and coffee for the deliveries on Friday.

“The kids love this because they get to own what they do. The job titles they have, they hold it near and dear to their heart,” Winder said.

Posted by Grand Oaks HS PTO on Thursday, September 6, 2018

“Some students push the cart, some students take the orders, some students make the packaging,” Winder told KHOU.

The students are enthused and quite proud of landing their jobs with this venture.

One freshman, Mazzie Ensig, said, “My mom and dad are so proud of me.”

“The Grizzly Bean makes me feel like I can do anything,” said sophomore Kailee Chatman.

Thank you @fox26houston for coming out to Grand Oaks High School to do a live cover on The Grizzly Bean! Thank you for…

Posted by Shelby Winder on Thursday, September 6, 2018

What is more noteworthy is the fact that Winder used her first-year salary to fund the enterprise.

After learning about her incredible efforts, the school reimbursed her expenses and encouraged her to “keep dreaming big.”

Posted by Grand Oaks HS PTO on Thursday, September 6, 2018

“This is so important to me because I know this is so important to them. This is going to build the foundation upon which they grow and blossom and become productive members of society,” Winder said.

But that’s not all; the big-hearted teacher doesn’t plan on stopping just there.

She has already made plans to use the profits from the coffee cart business “to actually provide funds for another school to start the same project.”

Posted by Grand Oaks HS PTO on Thursday, September 6, 2018

Kudos to Winder for her incredible efforts. We hope more such efforts spring out from schools and play a pivotal role in empowering the lives of these young individuals.

Watch the video below: