At room 501, the Tiger Bean creates an environment of learning, love and fun for special needs students at Handley Middle School.
Here, students are given the opportunity to learn life skills from the basics of knowing how to sweep thoroughly, wash clothes and cook to handling money properly and interacting with other students, adults and even people in the community.
The Tiger Bean was established about three years ago and began as an ordinary cabinet at HMS until adjustments were made creating it into a professional mobile coffee delivery service around HMS. Special education teachers at HMS wanted to create something distinctive from other programs for students at the school to focus specifically on positively impacting special need students.
The Tiger Bean mainly serves coffee but also offers other treats to complement the coffee. Students run the Tiger Bean by first collecting orders from teachers around HMS. Each cup of coffee cost $1 and each treat is an additional $1. The students make the orders by brewing the coffee in the kitchen at 501 in their Keurig. After the cup of coffee is made, it is put on the Tiger Bean and is sent out for delivery, along with sugar, creamers and other coffee condiments. The Tiger Bean is rolled down the halls of HMS making deliveries and brightening days of everyone in its path.
Money raised by the Tiger Bean is used to buy supplies for the activities they do and to fund field trips for the students who run it. In the past The Tiger Bean has also held several successful pancake breakfasts of which they plan to continue when COVID-19 restrictions allow.
Tiger Bean members hope to raise enough money to take a well deserved trip to Disney World. Shannon Platzek, a co-creator of the Tiger Bean and special ed teacher of five years, discussed the impact the Tiger Bean has had on the Roanoke City Schools community. "It [the Tiger Bean] is really special," she says. She explained the idea came from a friend who created something similar at her school. Although Platzek has been a teacher for 14 years, she says special education has always been her passion. She expressed how much she loves working with the students and the Tiger Bean.
Platzek assisted the Tiger Bean at the 2019 Student Showcase at Handley High School where news anchor Wendell Edwards took notice of the unique program. Edwards was impressed with what he saw and asked to come back to hold a broadcasted interview with the Tiger Bean members. In the spring of 2020, Edwards came back covering a news story for the ABC 33/40 news station in his series called "School Patrol." Edwards interviewed the teachers as well as the students running the Tiger Bean.
Recently Edwards' name has surfaced again in the RCS community as he excitedly shared he just received an award for the Tiger Bean story. A special thanks was given to the special ed teachers, Shannon Platzek, Melody Phillips, Lesli Craven, Theresa Hunter, Jeana Combs and coordinator Lynn Perry. Plaztek also mentioned Principal Lynn Robinson, assistant principal Homer Hector, Superintendent Chuck Marcum and others. She said, "We couldn't do it without these supporters."