By Jacqueline van Aanholt
LIVES are changing in what could be one of Tamworth’s best kept secrets and busiest cafes.
The Busy Bee Coffee Shop at Tamworth High School is open five days a week, serving coffee and snacks before school and in the three other breaks between classes to teachers and senior students.
An initiative by special support head teacher Vanessa Coates, the cafe is run with the help of Angel Lye but staffed by about 50 of Tamworth High’s support students from years 7 to 12.
As part of the program, students work shifts in the cafe and are provided opportunities to achieve accreditations including barista qualifications, safe food handling certificates and other hospitality skills to help them prepare, and be qualified to obtain work in the wider world. THS job coach Sue Warden said the program had been designed to “break the cycle”.
“Some of the students come from less than ideal situations and have struggled a bit and the program is designed to provide the student an opportunity to obtain the skills they may need to gain employment outside of school,” she said.
Yesterday students involved in the program picked up some other skills.
Former Tamworth woman, Chelle Kuskopf, an interior designer made the trip home to teach the students how to wallpaper and decorate the cafe.
“It was a great experience and equipped the students with yet another skill,” Mrs Warden said.
“Once a week we have mentoring, where women from the local Lions Club come into the cafe, the students practise their customer service and cafe skills and then have an opportunity to sit and talk with the women about all kinds of things,” Mrs Warden said.
“The program is as much about community involvement and building relationships as it is about providing the students work-related opportunities.”
Over the coming months more elements will be added.
“We have a gardening project in mind and will work with Rotary to develop that,” Mrs Warden said.
“We are achieving a lot the confidence of the students has increased immensely and the transformation in them on the whole has been unbelievable.”