By Nance Ebert, Contributing Writer
Marlborough – Coffee is a universal beverage that is consumed by many throughout the day. According to special education teacher Kim Feehan, the Richer Coffee Cubs provides an opportunity for her students to interact with others, build relationships, solve problems and feel proud each week as they deliver coffee, tea and hot chocolate to staff members in the building.
The Coffee Cubs Program was started at the Raymond C. Richer Elementary School in December and has been getting a lot of “buzz.”
“I wanted to do this for a very long time but things fell into place when I bumped into an old friend, Linda Peace, that I had worked with at the mall,” Feehan explained. “I didn’t realize that she and her husband, Frank, owned a coffee shop in Worcester called Brew on the Grid which will be opening soon in Marlborough. I asked if she would be interested in partnering with the Richer School and supplying us with the coffee that we would sell to staff. She quickly agreed and our principal, Dr. Robert (R.J.) Skaza was also on board.”
Feehan’s classroom is comprised of students in grades K-4. It is self-contained and made up of students with multiple disabilities that typically affect their communication, gross fine motor skills, cognition and academics.
Every Friday, two students from Feehan’s classroom along with two high school volunteers, deliver the hot beverages to the staff that placed their order earlier in the week.
“A lot of people make assumptions about students that may need extra support. This program can prove these people wrong,” Feehan maintined. “There are so many skills that my students are learning and implementing and this program is such a great learning opportunity. The children use social skills, make eye contact, and count out items needed for delivery days, look at icons and words. Most importantly, this makes them feel proud. They will be successful when you build up their self-esteem. It’s so important to get the students our in the community and apply what they learn in real life experiences.”
The teachers have had nothing but positive feedback about the Richer’s Coffee Cubs thus far. They love it and have commented on the noticeable progress of the students who are participating and are actively engaged with the staff. The students also collect money, so math skills are also reinforced with counting, matching coins, learning the value of coins and even using an iPad to be able to communicate effectively. This program is not- for-profit and funds itself. The money exchanged goes into a gift pool for field trips, a weekly cooking group and more.
In the future, Feehan hopes to expand the Richer’s Coffee Cubs to serve the local police department, fire department and other community groups.