In late 2016, Steve Thompson, Tiger Prep Board member, pitched to the board his vision of a fun and functional job skills program to benefit Chagrin students who have special needs. He wanted learning to happen outside of the classroom, but within the school. The board enthusiastically gave Steve the green light, and when he met with school staff and administration, the response was one of huge excitement.
Countless hours of research, planning and collaboration later, Tiger Perk a student-run coffee service was launched in 2018. This is a highly integrated program that involves staff, student volunteers, and of course the students who make and deliver the coffee. Tiger Prep provided the seed money for Tiger Perk, along with ongoing support.
While the program is so well-run that unsurprisingly participating students are gaining all kinds of job and life skills, there has been an amazing, surprising unexpected effect on the culture of the school as a whole. Many of the students in Tiger Perk do not spend much if any time in mainstream classrooms, resulting in minimal interaction with the rest of the school community. That’s changed with Tiger Perk! These students are really out and about now, including delivering coffee to teachers as they are teaching a class. The smiles, hi’s and high 5’s between students, staff and administrators proves that all it takes is a little regular contact – and a good cup of joe – to bring people together.
Tiger Perk has been so successful, that the plan is now both to expand it, and to integrate it even more into the fabric of the Chagrin Schools community. Plans are underway – and funds have been raised, including by Tiger Prep – to place Tiger Perk in a larger, more centralized location, right next to the High School cafeteria.
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Watch this awesome video about Tiger Perk produced by Chagrin High School students!
Here’s what Chagrin Superintendent Bob Hunt has to say about Tiger perk:
In over twenty years of education, I have not witnessed a program have such a dramatic impact on the culture of a school building. The interaction between students and staff that in the past did not occur has made a pervasive change within our school building. Our special education students have developed a sense of pride as they interact with students and staff that transcends throughout the day beyond just a simple delivering of coffee. We strive to help students develop a sense of community, understanding and acceptance. This program is doing that every day in our school buildings.
Read about Tiger Perk in Cleveland.com: