MONROVIA – Monrovia High School students from the MHS Roasters program put on their aprons and stock a coffee cart at 7 a.m. to begin selling cups of coffee, tea, and hot chocolate to faculty and staff as part of Monrovia High’s WorkAbility and Transition Partnership program for students.

The programs open doors to job opportunities from local business partners in the community. By going into the community and working for local businesses, students in special education classes learn independence and gain experience for life-skill development.

“Monrovia High’s MHS Roasters program provides students with a chance to gain critical skills in academics, social interaction, communication, financial management, and job performance,” Monrovia High Transition Coordinator Kymberly Hirst said.

Local business partners include Unleashed, Foothill Unity Center, REI, Grocery Outlet, Chuck E. Cheese, Wendy’s, Walgreens, and Smart and Final.

“My son is very excited to get up in the morning now, and he shows up to school always ready to start working,” said Leslie Hudspeth, mother of Monrovia High student Jason Travers. “This experience is going to give him the confidence he needs to go out to the community and hold his head up high because he will have the skills he needs to do the work.”

Similar coffee cart programs are finding success in schools across the states, achieving a high degree of popularity on campuses and offering beneficial work experience, Hirst said. Students work alongside adults for support as they gain the skills they will need to be employed in the community.

“At Monrovia Unified, providing our students with the opportunities and experiences they need to be successful after graduation is one of our priorities,” Board of Education President Ed Gililland said. “Our dedicated teachers and counselors at Monrovia High always ensure that our students have the opportunities they need to be successful not only academically, but in their personal goals as well.”

Student training started with making hot chocolate for a friend and then providing complimentary drinks for teachers who visited the cart. Students learned how to use a cash register and how to manage a line of customers. Now they crisscross campus on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, selling coffee to faculty and staff.

“The growth of the MHS Roasters program follows the same successful trajectory of our other unique programs,” Superintendent Katherine Thorossian said. “It begins with a great idea supported by an organization committed to creating opportunities for students. Our goal is to prepare students with the skills necessary to define their own future.”


09.12.2019_MUSD_MHS Roasters 1: A student from Monrovia High’s Roasters prepares coffee sold to a staff member on Sept. 12, as part of the school’s WorkAbility and Transitions Partnerships programs.

09.12.2019_MUSD_MHS Roasters 2: A student from Monrovia High’s Roasters counts change and distributes it into the cash register on Sept. 12. The Roasters program helps students gain money and job skills.