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Special Ed Teacher Finds Brilliant Way for Students to Thrive Beyond the Classroom

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Sadie Guthrie is a special education teacher at Lawton Alternative School in San Francisco, and her work has been highlighted in the latest video in SoulPancake‘s Class Act series, which profiles inspiring teachers.

Guthrie developed a mobile coffee cart program that helps both her students and the community. In the six-minute video above, we see firsthand how a sweet and simple idea is benefitting everyone it touches.

Guthrie says she looks beyond a typical curriculum and tries to imagine where her students are headed long term. She also observed the challenges her students faced when it came to interacting with others in the community, so she came up with a plan. She launched a mobile coffee cart so everyone could learn essential skills — and get to know a little bit more about one another.

Guthrie says everyone was a bit hesitant initially, but the coffee cart program quickly took off. From communicating with employees at the local bakery that supplies the coffee cart’s pastries to taking public transportation, Guthrie’s kids get a chance to practice all sorts of important skills.

“Any school in this country could take this example to help transform their own school community, to make sure that every child feels accepted, that every child feels that they belong, that they have a place,” Gina Ferrante, the school’s principal, adds.

“Even if you face challenges, those challenges aren’t necessarily the important part,” Guthrie concludes in the clip. “It’s more like, what are the skills that you do have that you’re going to use to move forward? It’s less about what are you struggling with, it’s more about how awesome can you be.”

Originally published: October 28, 2015
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