Campus grounds provides a latte Real World Learning

Last spring, Fort Osage School District began planning a new venture steeped in real world learning. When a coffee shop serving a unique area of their community closed, the district saw an opportunity for students to create and manage a business from the ground up.

Timeline for how Fort Osage launched a student-run coffee shop:

Key components to the curriculm

  • Develop Business Plan
  • Human Resources
  • Inventory
  • Budget
  • Training of staff
  • Branding and marketing
  • Partnership with the culinary students

2021

  • June: Superintendent Dr. Snodgrass goes to the board to approve the land purchase, existing structures (including a coffee shop), and surrounding event space. Board unanimously approves.
  • July: Teacher Whitney Scott creates a curriculum for her Entrepreneurial Studies Program (ESP) to launch and operate a student-run coffee shop.
  • August 23: School starts, and students get to work. ESP is offered for two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon. 20 students are enrolled.
  • August 24 – September 8: The first two weeks are focused on creating a positive classroom culture. Students work to build relationships that create trust and accountability to work together as a team and run a successful business.
  • September: Students do market research. They visit several local coffee shops, meet with coffee shop owners, and taste coffee from different local suppliers.
  • September 9: Students experience their first real-world problem – their espresso maker is back-ordered due to supply chain issues.
  • October: More real-world problems: they are short-staffed due to COVID-19 absences. Training has to be delayed.
  • October 25: Two months after their first class time together, students have a soft launch for their business.
  • October 30: Community Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting.
  • November – December: ESP students focus on ongoing marketing – building a website, social media, email marketing, promotional coupons, and special events, including a Santa visit in December.

2022

  • January – February: Menu development – students crunch the numbers to see what is selling and what is not and make adjustments, adding new drink flavors and new menu items. New on the menu: Frappes!
  • February: Shop has been open for three months and has made over $40,000 in revenue.
  • What’s next: Growing the business. Students are creating merchandise to sell and exploring online and to-go ordering.

Meet Teacher Whitney Scott

Mrs. Scott graduated from Fort Osage High School and the CTC’s Entrepreneurial Studies program before earning her marketing degree from Missouri State University and her MBA from Baker. Scott spent 8 years in marketing and was looking for ‘more purpose for her work.’ Since joining Fort Osage as the Entrepreneurial Studies teacher in 2019, she says, “It doesn’t get any more purposeful than this right here. I really enjoy being with the students every day, learning with them and watching them grow and run a business.”

Pro tips from Mrs. Scott

  • The first steps were to align our views for what the coffee shop means to the school district, the community, and the students. Next, we had to create a vision for the coffee shop to determine our market segment and the look and feel we wanted the coffee shop to have. Once we had an idea of who we were as a business, the other steps began to fall into place.
  • Go for it. No one in the district had experience opening a business, especially with students. But each day, we make it happen. We learned from decisions we could have done differently. So a big part is the experience of being here every day and just doing it and learning through it together – and then the result, you get a business.
  • Each day has its own projects. For example, we got a new beverage cooler delivered to us in the parking lot. So how do we get it inside? We had to problem solve. Then once the shop is open, you have to keep it running to keep customers coming back. So it’s full of small projects that are daily successes for us.
  • Be flexible. You will experience challenges. I don’t like to use the term failure, but we are open to failures. They are part of the experience and help create a growth mindset for our students.