Public PK-12 School District in Dalton, Georgia

Dalton Public Schools News

Transition Academy Java Cats are Serving Coffee and Smiles
Java Cats sign

Interns in Dalton High School's Transition Academy are energizing their community through their new "Java Cats" program, an in-school coffee shop serving smiles and iced coffee.

The Transition Academy launched their Java Cats coffee shop in mid-September in partnership with Dalton High's Food and Nutrition department.

The interns serve two flavors of iced coffee, vanilla and caramel, throughout the week. Kim Taylor, the employment specialist at Cross Plains Community Partner, said it was a team decision to start the coffee shop.

"The Transition Academy started here at Dalton High in the 2019-2020 school year," Taylor said. "It's been an idea in the making since the Transition Academy started. This year, having 14 interns, we decided it was a perfect year."

Cross Plains Community Partner works to provide community-based employment services to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The organization partnered with Dalton High School to establish the Transition Academy and create opportunities for leadership and choice of employment within the Dalton community.

Students in the Transition Academy engage in "rotations," allowing them to participate in activities that inspire personal and professional growth. Taylor said the idea for the Java Cats rotation was inspired by the successes of coffee shops at other schools.

Two students working

"We're exploring different rotations in the school all of the time," Taylor said. "We want different experiences for the kids. We've seen [the coffee shop] take place in other schools, and we thought it would be a really good fit for our interns to learn customer service skills and some life skills."

Within the coffee shop, interns learn customer service, cashier skills and basic kitchen etiquette. As their skills progress, they begin working in the community. In the future, these skills will help them contribute to the workforce.

Currently, there are 14 students in the Transition Academy. Four of these students have already graduated into the community and work with Cross Plains partners.

"The coffee shop is a work in progress," Taylor said. "It's growing. As our skills and efficiency grow, there's possibilities that deliveries or pre-orders might happen. We're pretty excited about it."