PLYMOUTH, Minn. -- "Good morning, Laker's Breakfast Nook, may I take your order?" chirps junior Angelica Ruiz, a Wayzata High School junior.
She's taking phone orders in a classroom that becomes a breakfast hub during the school's first block. Students take breakfast and drink orders from staff and then put the orders together to deliver them.
"Our students really learn by doing," said Work Based Learning Program teacher Valerie Mattioli.
These are students who are in the special education program. Because there are so many levels of skills, Mattioli and her fellow teachers needed a hands-on class that could address a broad range of learning needs.
"Instead of play money, they're dealing with the real thing, which makes more sense to them," said Mattioli. "It also helps in peer interactions throughout the building. They get to know kids; they get to know staff."
Grateful staff, like 12th floor secretary Marge Bertelson, who was getting a snack delivered.
"It gives them social experience, it gives them experience with math, and being responsible and getting a job done," said Bertelson.
She's one of many in the building who say they look forward to talking with the students who deliver coffee, hot cocoa, and a wide variety of other goodies.
"Muffins, bagels, nuts, turkey, egg sausage sandwiches," said senior Hamzeh Ramadan who runs orders to the kitchen and then prepares them for delivery.
Mattioli makes sure every job counts for the students who make up the staff of the Laker's Breakfast Nook. That's why she likes to place 9th graders on the delivery team.
"That way when they come in, they begin to learn the building and how to get around," Mattioli explained.
The program is nearly a decade old, which has given Mattioli perspective in how it helps students who can be overwhelmed in one of the state's largest high schools.
"They come in sometimes not wanting to talk to others. At the end, they're using the phone and taking phone orders," she said.
And meeting other kids. Some teachers will allow their classrooms to order breakfast as a treat, which means Mattioli's students may be interacting with more than a dozen students picking up a bagel or hot chocolate.
"So I think that seeing that growth in a student and the self confidence that they can do things, and it's meaningful, and they're part of a business, I think is invaluable," said Mattioli.
(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All rights reserved.)