Lisa Hall, a junior at North Hardin High School, took charge Friday of a new coffee cart, pushing it through the hallways and dropping off freshly brewed beverages to staff.

Hall and two other students took turns delivering teachers their drinks, receiving money and making change.

Friday was the fourth week of Big Blue Brews, a new coffee cart at North Hardin run by students with special needs. Teachers started the cart to teach life skills and to give students more positive experiences in the school. The cart also raises money for the special education program.

“Our teachers are getting to know our students,” said Alison Langley, special education facilitator at North Hardin. “It also gives our students a chance to get to know the staff.”

Langley and Carolyn Ross, a special education teacher at North Hardin, worked together to make the cart a reality. They had the idea in early September.

“It teaches social skills, money skills and general life skills,” Ross said of the cart.

Before Hall, freshman Lewis Tippett and junior Michael Craig could start delivering coffee Friday they had to clock in on a time sheet and put on their uniform — an apron and hat. Langley said students had to complete a job application and ServSafe training before participating.

“They are getting really good experiences,” Langley said.

North Hardin staff can place drink orders during the week. A 12-ounce cup costs $1 and a 16-ounce cup costs $1.50. All proceeds go back into the program and help pay for field trips and other activities. Langley said so far, they were able to help six students join the school’s pep club.

Students from teacher Clay Hooper’s life skills class helped fulfill orders, adding requested syrups or creams to the drinks. Big Blue Brews is more than just black coffee in a cup, Langley said.

She said they have started to offer specialty drinks such as apple cider. During winter months, they also want to add hot chocolate and hot tea to the menu.

Ross and Langley said they are learning more each week, and the cart is running more smoothly.

Since Big Blue Brews opened in October, it has received more than 100 orders, and Langley said they now have regular customers.

“Teachers have been really receptive and have embraced the idea,” she said.

When the students knocked on their classroom doors, teachers were ready with payment for their drinks. They also joked with and hugged the students before they moved on to their next order.

“I get coffee, so I can see y’all,” visual arts teacher Deborah Mea­dows-Stroud told them.

After pushing the cart through two floors of the high school, Hall, Tippett and Craig wrapped up with one last delivery to principal Tanya Corder and clocked out until another week.

Katherine Knott can be reached at 270-505-1747 or

Katherine Knott is an education reporter with The News-Enterprise.

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