Plano East special ed students become baristas for Panther Perks Coffee

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Special education students at Plano East Senior High School are learning life skills and bringing smiles to the school staff. 

Every Friday, they become baristas at Panther Perks Coffee. They brew up coffee and making deliveries. Each student has a job.

Panther Perks Coffee is making a big difference on the campus. Business is good. 

"What's wonderful about this program is the students truly get a real job experience all the way from the beginning of following a recipe all the way through to serving their customers," said Ann Palesky, the Plano East job coach.

On Monday, 10 special ed students, all seniors, take orders for Panther Perks Coffee. Delivery day is Friday.

"We've had a little over 50 this week and every week it’s been growing more and more," said Elaine Miller, a Plano East special education teacher.

"They be working so hard in class. They need something to drink before they work. It makes me feel happy so much to see how people be smiling. It makes my day feel happy," said Michael, a Plano East student.

"I love that they take ownership and pride in it. That is what I want as a teacher as they grow, they're young adults. They will eventually have jobs in our community and they need to start somewhere and learn job skills," Miller said.

Palesky helped develop the job training program. She said other skills the students develop include hygiene and social skills with people they don't know well.

"These students can do many, many, many things. They need to be given a chance and they need to be encouraged," she said.

Support is pouring in from across campus. Engineering students even made the students’ name tags on a 3D printer.

"One department after another, they’re coming and asking 'How can we help? How can we support you? We love seeing your students.' They just love to be loved and they love to learn," said Palesky.

This program is funded through staff at the school. All of the coffee, cups and condiments are donated. 

If you'd like to help, call the school at 469-752-9000 or take supplies to 3000 Los Rios Blvd Plano, TX 75024. You can also order on Amazon & have it delivered! Coffee, creamer, tea bags, hot chocolate packets, cups with lids/sleeves-- anything a barista may need!