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Making coffee with Escuela Verde's Newline Community Cafe

Four people standing in front of a cafe.
Mallory Cheng
Some members of the Newline Community Cafe team, (from left to right) Loren Luna, Jasper Schmiedel, Monica Beltran and Jeremy Ault, stand outside of the cafe in Milwaukee's Silver City neighborhodd.

If you’re biking down the Hank Aaron State Trail or are spending a day around The Mitchell Park Domes and looking for a cool drink, nestled in Milwaukee's Silver City neighborhood is a student-run cafe called the Escuela Verde Newline Community Cafe. Working in partnership with Newline Education, students from Escuela Verde Public Charter School hone their barista skills and build real-world job experience.

Jeremy Ault is a special education advisor at Esecula Verde. Loren Luna and Jasper Schmiedel are students at Escuela Verde. They share more about the cafe.

Ault explains, "[Escuela Verde is] a public charter school, we focus a lot on project based learning. What that means is that we use a lot of students interests to drive academic gains and and to drive like our curriculums. So, students and advisors co-create curriculums a lot."

He adds that it's important that students have a holistic understanding of why education is important and what their role is in society and their environment.

Sometimes young people on the outside might not be seen as productive members of Milwaukee, but they often have the best ideas, Ault says.

Luna adds that it's been fun being a student at Escuela Verde and a barista at the cafe.

So far, Luna recounts she's taken a barista class to learn the ins and outs of the business. She never thought she would be at the cafe this long, but here she is a year later.

"It's been really nice working with the community. I really liked the fact that every day there's like a new customer that walks in," says Luna.

Schmiedel adds that he's learned a great deal about the coffee industry as well. He says he's learned how to make many kinds of coffee, a mocha being his favorite.

He has other responsibilities as well, which include cleaning the cafe and making change for the customers. Schmiedel says he's preparing for different kinds of jobs, like working at Starbucks.

As a teacher that oversees the program, Ault acknowledges that seeing students grow in their communication skills and confidence is really powerful.

He says learning skills like handling money, using math and counting change makes a different impact when it's happening real time in the cafe with real customers rather than on a worksheet.

"We want this space to be inclusive, not just representative of the cultures that represents diversity, but also education inclusive, and the idea that anybody, any student can bring what they want into this space and be successful," says Ault.

Mallory Cheng was a Lake Effect producer from 2021 to 2023.
Kobe Brown was WUWM's fifth Eric Von fellow.
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