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Madame Jennifer Johnston Kerns Grimsley teacher making an order  on her desktop computer for a drink from the Whirlie Cafe

Madame Jennifer Johnston Kerns orders coffee online from The Whirlie Cafe. Photo by Jake Acosta and Kevin Massey

The Whirlie Cafe: What It Is and Why It Matters

Exceptional students serve up coffee and gain valuable experience.

By Lincoln Casey

Feb. 29, 2024

A new addition to the historic halls of Grimsley is serving up hot coffee while also providing valuable skills to its students. 

The Whirlie Cafe, est. 2023, is run by the Exceptional Children at Grimsley. Open 9:30 to 11 a.m, they currently only serve faculty members and staff, but hope to open for students in the future. 

 “A lot of what we teach are job skills because we hope that after graduation they will get competitive employment,” said Ms. Jessica Fancourt, the EC teacher who created the cafe. “So the cafe gives them real life experience while they are at school.”  

The students love serving coffee at The Whirlie Cafe, and now with their new espresso machine they can make lattes. The most popular drink at The Whirlie Cafe is hot chocolate. 

“The drinks are amazing,” said Madame Jennifer Johnston Kerns, a French teacher at Grimsley, and oat milk latte fan. “I am kind of boring. I get the same drink every time, but every time it's been outstanding!”

In addition to outstanding drinks, the cafe also serves cookies on occasion. Ms. Fancourt previously owned a cookie business and often bakes delicious cookies to serve at the cafe.

All the profits from the cafe go to the EC adaptive program. Ms. Fancourt’s interest in teaching exceptional students began when she was in high school. 

“I have always had a soft spot for people with disabilities in high school,” she said. “The high school that I attended did a program. It was kind of like a teacher cadet program. We would have students come in and volunteer during the day in a special education classroom and so I just built relationships and then I just thought it would be a great field to go into.”

The cafe provides a little extra energy to Grimsley’s amazing faculty and staff while also connecting the community with every cup of coffee. 

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