BHS Teacher introduces Latte Love program to her students

Published 9:21 am Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Schools were turned upside down two years ago when the pandemic began, with many closing, and in some parts of the country, some are still mostly doing virtual classes. This didn’t just impact standard classes, it also impacted various school programs, including those for special needs students. However, one teacher is looking to provide her students with a substitute program and ensure they get the experience they would otherwise be deprived.

Marissa Cerrone has been a teacher for four years, but only recently began teaching at Bainbridge High School, where she teaches the Moderate-Severe-Profound self-contained Special Education class. One part of the program was weekly community-based instruction (CBI). This program involved taking students on outings to teach them basic lessons, like going to Walmart and ordering food at restaurants, among other community or work-based learning activities. Obviously, with pandemic restrictions, students were no longer permitted these outings.

Not to be deterred, Cerrone began browsing Pinterest, looking for inspiration from other school’s programs. This led her to create the “Latte Love” program last November. It entails, on the first Monday of every month, special needs students making and delivering coffee to any faculty and staff that have signed up to participate. Students are given a checklist of items to keep in stock the day prior to delivery (cups, lids, stirrers, creamer, etc.) On the day of, students are given name tags and each assigned a task for prepping and delivering the coffee.

“So far, we have only heard positive feedback from a few people in our community,” Cerrone told the Post-Searchlight. “Faculty and staff at BHS absolutely love seeing our students involved and working around the school building, and I love that it provides awareness to those who are unsure of the true depths of our students’ capabilities.”

Due to staffing issues, the program was unable to be performed this month, but Cerrone hopes to pick it back up in February.

“The possibilities of what this can become are truly endless, and my goal is to keep moving forward to capitalize on the involvement my students have with their peers in general education classes and those teachers,” she said.

“So many people in our society just do not know or understand how to interact with people or students who have disabilities. They hear the ‘label’ of a person’s disability and automatically think of the barriers it creates for the individual,” Cerrone said. “‘Latte Love’ encourages spreading awareness to see a person for their strengths and capabilities first, while embracing every part of their identity. My students have so much love to give, and I think it is time as a society to push for a more inclusive community for each and every person involved in it!”