John’s Coffee Delivery helps develop work skills

John Erikson receives 13 lbs of coffee from FBLA club members Adam Miller, Laurel Barber and Falisha Willier, while wearing apron donated by screen printing class. Erikson has a coffee service for faculty as a part of transition to work. “I think that this is a very good opportunity for him to go out and interact with teachers to start with,” special education teacher Christian Ulsaker, also pictured, said, “but to also get him up, around and moving.”

Erikson develops social and emotional skills through service

“Don’t lose your beans, because ole’ John’s coffee service always delivers,” is John Erikson’s advice for WHS staff members in need of a caffeine fix in the mornings.

John Erikson is a special needs student who graduated with the class of 2017, but is still attending WHS as a part of transition to work, where he learns career skills that he will use to support himself in the future. Erikson’s many activities include helping out in screen printing classes; practicing life skills, like cooking; volunteering in both the high school and public libraries; handling the school’s recycling; doing janitorial work at the elementary and high schools; and spending the afternoons doing maintenance and dietary work at the Alma Manor.

Erikson pours freshly brewed coffee as he makes custom order for staff member. Erikson offers coffee, tea and hot chocolate. Photo by Cody Lohse.

One of Erikson’s recent projects has been a huge hit. Erikson started a coffee bar in the mornings for staff members, which includes a variety of coffees, hot chocolates and teas. He carries around a clipboard, taking staff members’ orders. He then brews and mixes each personalized order, and delivers them.

John’s Coffee Bar has received a lot of positive feedback and support. Wabaunsee’s FBLA club has made contributions, including 13 pounds of coffee. He has received donations from many people and organizations, such as StuCo, the boys basketball team, and the screen printing classes, which designed and printed an apron for Erikson to wear in the mornings.

“[The donations] certainly mean a lot to me. It really helps us out, since we are on a fixed budget here,” Erikson said.

Special education teacher, Christian Ulsaker has noticed positive changes in Erikson.

He said, “From a professional standpoint, social and emotional skills are on the rise for John… Just as a person, I think that it’s always good for people to have communication skills, so this is very good for John.”

Ulsaker also mentioned that they have plans to continue the coffee bar for future students in similar situations, and Erikson is just the first of many.

The WHS screen printing classes created an apron for John to wear during business.

The coffee bar has been beneficial for Erikson in many ways. He is learning organization and life skills, and his confidence level has skyrocketed according to special ed teacher Diane Breiner, who works closely with him. Erikson loves seeing the smiles on peoples’ faces when he brings them their drink in the morning, and the way it makes him feel important.

“I’ve seen a difference in his demeanor. He’s proud of himself, he’s friendly and happy. He roars in here every morning and puts his apron on. It’s just awesome,” Breiner said.

Kendyl Bolinder, @Bolinderkendyl

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