Brewing inclusion at Westlake City School District

Burneson Brew students deliver treats and drinks.

Westlake City School District believes that education is much more than a classroom activity. ALL students should have the opportunity to experience the social and engaging activities that make school fun. 

With this in mind, we created in-house opportunities for students with different levels of abilities to get hands-on experience at Lee Burneson Middle School and Westlake High School. Burneson Brew, located at LBMS, is where it all started.

Burneson Brew is a student-run business that provides an authentic, real-world learning experience housed in our middle school. Initially, Burneson Brew exclusively employed individuals with disabilities, but this year, the Brew Crew has expanded to represent those with and without disabilities.

All potential hires were required to complete a differentiated job application, participate in an interview and undergo on-the-job training. The brewing process involves tasks that are delegated and completed in an assembly line. Baristas then hand deliver brews and sweets to the staff throughout the building on their new and improved Burneson Brew coffee cart. 

The successor of Burneson Brew is the high school’s student-run coffee shop, Demon Brew, which celebrated their grand opening this fall. The Demon Brew has the same concept as Burneson Brew and employs students with and without disabilities to create a genuinely inclusive workspace for all students.

The Demon Brew allows students and staff to beat the rush of the off-campus coffee shops and creates a collaborative and inclusive environment for all students involved.

“The Demon Brew has been a wonderful opportunity for our students with disabilities,” said teacher Katherine McGlynn. “They are learning real-life job skills that they can use as they transition to adulthood and the most exciting thing to me is that all students are involved.” 

These student-run businesses not only provide authentic, real-world learning experiences but also help students create unforgettable memories and bonds. Burneson Brew and Demon Brew showcase the power of differentiation, teamwork and hands-on training in preparing students for life beyond Westlake City School District.

These initiatives are not only about brewing coffee; they are about brewing a culture of understanding, empathy and opportunity where everyone can thrive and succeed together. 

Abigail Stopka

Hello, my name is Abigail Stopka and I'm the account lead for Westlake City School District's PR team. I work for the Impact Group PR, located in Hudson and I will be submitting stories on the behalf of WCSD.

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Volume 15, Issue 21, Posted 8:27 AM, 11.21.2023