KILLEEN, Texas – Special needs students from the Killeen Independent School District gathered Tuesday morning to watch their TV debuts among their friends and now co-workers.
The students were featured on Food Network’s “Kitchen Impossible” while working with So Natural Catering in Harker Heights. The job is in partnership with Killeen’s C.R.E.W. (Career Readiness Employable Work) program for special needs students who have already graduated high school.
“Everything that a regular employee will learn to do in a restaurant, our students are learning to do in the restaurant,” So Natural’s owner Luvina Sabree said. “And I don’t slack – at all.”
From preparing food to waiting and busing tables, these students are learning how to work in a restaurant.
“I do customer service,” C.R.E.W. student Arianna Colley said. “Well, I serve food to the customers, I walk up to them and say, ‘Hello ma’am, or sir! Enjoy your food.'”
The program is designed to teach employable traits to special needs students, so it’s an easy transition from them from high school to the workforce.
“It’s important because a lot of the students who have disabilities, they may not be able to go to college or they may not go to a trade school, their ability may be different from another student’s,” KISD transitions specialist Tina Capito said. “We focus on what their ability is, not their disability, to help them become healthy, happy adults in our community.”
Sabree welcomes in students from each of the four area high schools for one week each month, and will teach them something new each time. She may appreciate the company even more than the labor.
“They make my heart smile. They make me feel so good,” Sabree said. “I thought I was actually helping the students, but in return they’re helping me. They make me happy. I look forward to working with them.”
The students will be working at So Natural again the first week in March.