At 8am, the 3rd and 4th grade classes at Frederick J. Gaenslen K-8 School in Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood start their day with Alterra coffee, tea, soda and water…not for the students but for service from the Gaenslen School Café. As a part of the special ed curriculum, students take responsibility for serving morning beverages to staff throughout the school. Two carts are loaded up – one for upstairs, one for downstairs – and the students are on their way.
This is a much-appreciated perk for the staff, and it serves as an opportunity to teach a number of long-term skills to the students.
Kids start by washing their hands, putting on an apron, then heading to the halls to match the beverage to each classroom, sometimes with the help of images of objects, toys, and characters to represent each room. Each reusable cup is labeled and accompanied by the appropriate sugar, creamers and sweeteners and accepted by some very appreciative teachers. In the afternoon, students make the rounds again to pick up empties and return them to the home ec room for washing.
We were thrilled to learn about Alterra’s place in the curriculum and thank Gaenslen and teacher Renee Ludwig for the invite to learn about the program! Funds raised from the school café help pay for field trips, such as an adaptive athletics bowling trip that was happening the day we came to visit.