Stephanie Whitley

Lafayette-Winona Middle School
Norfolk, VA

Project Description:

“Le Rocket Café”, Whitley’s winning program, is designed to promote entrepreneurialism by providing a real world setting for students with mild to moderate intellectual deficits to practice various skills. Through the student-run café, faculty and staff will be able to purchase a variety of snacks and beverages. The nearly 40 sixth-to-eighth grade students will practice and develop academic skills, as well as social, vocational, financial, and other life skills. With the supervision of the teachers, the students will receive “on the job” support to reinforce and encourage skill development. Lessons will include a range of math, language, social, and vocational skills to accommodate the individual needs of each learner. Each student will get the experience of completing a job application, interviewing, and will be coached on appropriate business attire and time management. Whitley, who resides in Suffolk, hopes her program will reduce school dropout rates, improve employment rates, and increase the chances of independent living for her students.