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PRINCETON — Every Friday morning at Princeton Elementary School, “Pup Cups” is open for business. Students don special aprons and sell coffee from beverage carts.
Meredith Thompson, a Princeton Elementary exceptional children’s teacher, created Pup Cups through her initiative titled Project Acceptance.
“Over the summer I wrote a grant to DonorsChoose to start Project Acceptance, which is a program that spreads disability awareness,” said Thompson. “At the same time, we help our students practice on the skills that we incorporate into our curriculum such as social communication, daily hygiene and other life skills.”
Pup Cups opened at the start of the 2019-20 school year. The endeavor initially began with students in Thompson’s class selling beverages from a stationary cart in her classroom.
“My initial startup was the beverage cart so that my students could spread disability awareness and also practice on the skills we incorporate in our curriculum,” said Thompson.
After just the first week, the class was able to expand its operation to two mobile beverage carts and one stationary cart thanks to several donations.
“We go around on Friday mornings and serve coffee and bottled water from our beverage cart,” said Princeton Elementary teacher Allyson Flemer. “All of our children are assigned different jobs. They’re learning social skills, how to handle money and functional skills they’ll be able to use in their lives.”
The students who participate in Pup Cups are enrolled in self-contained classrooms where they focus on not only standard curriculum but also social and emotional learning.
“This has allowed them to speak up and have a voice to share what they know,” said Thompson.
Thompson said Project Acceptance has allowed her students to put these skills to use and interact with their peers in other classrooms while also learning life skills.
“Pup Cups has been the perfect addition to Princeton Elementary,” said Principal Melissa Hurst. “When our teachers approached us about the idea for Pup Cups, it seemed like the perfect fit for a place where community is at the heart of everything we do.”
Thompson and the rest of her colleagues hope Pup Cups will raise enough money to take their students on field trips and possibly visit Bitty and Beau’s in Wilmington.
Bitty and Beau’s is a widely popular coffee shop chain that originated in Wilmington and is run by employees with intellectual and developmental disabilities.