(FORT CARSON, Colo.) — On the Mountain Post at Weikel Elementary School, the sounds of bells fill the halls once a week signaling that the Java Jeep is about to make a stop.
“It started out as just a very simple cart, but as more people got involved, it turned into a Jeep and now our Jeep has ducks and so we’ve just kind of built onto it from there,” said Weikel Elementary School Teacher, Courtney Faith.
Faith’s classroom is filled with students from kindergarten to fifth grade who have special needs. They each are learning valuable life skills thanks to the newest addition in the classroom: a radiant yellow cart named the “Java Jeep.”
“We get orders up until about 8:00 in the morning and then we start with the kids working to put together the coffee,” Faith said. “We have our list on the board, and we assign different students to go to different grade levels and it changes every week so that all of the students get to meet all of the teachers and all the classes.”
The biggest smiles appear on these students faces as they proudly rung bells and pushed the cart into different classrooms.
“Just the amount, the happiness, the joy that the kids get from delivering the coffee makes everybody super happy,” Faith shared. “The teachers are really happy. It’s increased our visibility, the inclusion. All of the kids in all of the classrooms know all of my students.”
At each classroom pit stop, teachers would present these students with coins or dollars, empowering these students with a real-world skill of counting money.
“Huge life skill to be able to count money, to be able to talk to people, to interact,” Faith said. “We just have different ways of including for some of our kids who maybe can’t speak. We have different visuals that they can use, and so building those social skills as well as that money math skill.”
A white laminated paper can be seen in the cart that students use to reference how much a drink costs and to ask if a customer would like any creamer.
“It makes sure that everybody is included,” Faith said. “So, it gives them the option of–they can use their words, but sometimes if maybe they don’t have the language or they get a little nervous when they’re talking to somebody, they can just point and ask the questions and it just make sure that everybody is a part of the team.”
As this team delivers their signature cups of joe, some of them have used their adorable charm to make a couple extra bucks.
“I have my $2 ready for my coffee, and they told me that my coffee was $5,” said dedicated customer, Stephanie Patterson-Gray. “They hustled me every single time and what did I pay? $5? I sure did. I don’t mind getting hustled, especially when they’re that cute.”
While coffee is delivered throughout the school, a handful of individuals have become the regulars, like the front desk team including Patterson-Gray.
“They make your heart happy,” Patterson-Gray said. “Makes the whole thing just that much more exciting.”
This group of baristas are filling the school cups, while also gaining real world skills.
“You need to know how to count your money if you’re ever going to have some money,” Patterson-Gray said. “So, I think that it’s good that they’re doing that. It’s an interpersonal thing, they’re talking to people, they’re interacting correctly and… this is a perfect life experience thing to do.”
In the upcoming months, Faith said she hopes to add some decorations to the Java Jeep and make it a little more special for her students.