Middle School Dean Ginger Kupka leads a crew of baristas each week as they sling cups of coffee to teachers in need of their morning caffeine. The Daily Grind has only been in operation for a few weeks, so they are ramping up production. They are starting with just two days of service but plan on becoming a staple at Stambaugh, which has outperformed the local district for 11 years.
The idea started a few years ago before the COVID-19 pandemic, which halted the hot drink station. When staff was cleaning out classrooms over the summer, Kupka ran across supplies and wanted to revive the business.
Middle school scholars operate the stand with different couriers every week, swapping out by grade level. The funds raised by each group are set aside for their respective eighth-grade trips.
The Daily Grind isn’t all dollars and cents, though. The experience provides scholars with a real-life look at how businesses operate. Instead of reading about how to organize a coffee shop, they’re doing the work themselves. Scholars are getting a glimpse at managing a budget, too.
“They've really independently taken it over,” Kupka said. “I thought it was going to be a lot of guiding on my part, but we really just had one day that we all met and talked about what they wanted it to look like and now they're coming up with ideas. They’re having a great time with it.”
Students have taken the reigns of The Daily Grind just a few weeks in. The cart started with coffee and tea, but after discussion, the students decided it was beneficial to offer cider and hot chocolate as well. Another innovation in the works is a loyalty card where staff can earn a free beverage with 10 purchases.
Kupka said scholars are getting lessons in Moral Focus as well. Using respect when delivering coffee and being wise in preparation have been two key focuses so far. Middle schoolers are also thinking ahead to what their first job might be, and The Daily Grind has given them tangible skills to use in the future.
Great job teaching real-world skills, Stambaugh!
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Stambaugh Charter Academy is a tuition-free, public charter school in Youngstown, Ohio, serving students in kindergarten through eighth grade. It is part of the National Heritage Academies network, which includes more than 100 tuition-free, public charter schools serving more than 65,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade across nine states. For more information, visit nhaschools.com.
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