The Guild’s new Coffee Shop opened for business on Aug. 27, and students have been serving staff members beverages and baked goods for an hour every weekday since. Students operate the cash register, prepare food, fulfill orders and make deliveries around the school.

In addition to serving hot and iced coffee and hot chocolate, the Coffee Shop offers bagels (plain, cinnamon raisin and “everything”). Occasionally, treats baked by the Bridge classroom, such as scones and biscottis, are on the menu. The coffee is provided by Karma Coffee, located in nearby Sudbury.

“It feels like meaningful work to the students because the staff really does appreciate it,” explains Shawn Massak, director of employment services at The Guild. “People come in, they order and you fill their order. What the students are learning here is applicable to an outside business.”

The Coffee Shop helps foster the development of all-important customer service skills in the familiar, supportive environment of The Guild. Students greet the customers and learn how they like their beverages and food prepared. Mistakes are tolerated, even expected.

“It’s comforting for the students to be in a place where someone who knows you says, ‘This isn’t quite right. Can you do this instead?’ ” Shawn says.

The Coffee Shop is part of The Guild School’s larger vocational services program, which is individualized for each students’ interest and skills. Members of the Guild’s Employment Services team serve as job developers and job coaches.

“We are trying to build individual programming for each student,” Shawn explains. “For some students, that’s working on skills for outside The Guild, whereas for others we are building more fundamental skills that will be transferable to daily living.”