‘Pup Cups’ Open For Business At Princeton Elementary

Students at Princeton Elementary visit the teachers in their school every Friday morning to sell coffee and water from their beverage cart, dubbed “Pup Cups.” Photographed on the front row (from left) are Jennifer Garnish, Joshua Rodenbaugh, Jenna Williams, Joseph Heaton-Rhodes, Jerome Blankumsee, Zy’Airah Byrd, Blaize Harris, and Bridgett Winstead. Photographed on the back row (from left) are Lori Edwards, Meredith Thompson, Lily Liles, Kylie Godwin, Caleb Jackson, Leavian Johnson, Sebastian Arbeau, Buddy the Bulldog, Kaemon Benson, Zander Pete Liles, Lucas Amaya, Jesse Connor Moore, Allyson Flemer, and Blanca Olivia.

Every Friday morning at Princeton Elementary “Pup Cups” is open for business. There the students don special aprons and sell coffee from beverage carts, all while lifting the spirits of their school community.

Meredith Thompson, a Princeton Elementary Exceptional Children’s teacher, created Pup Cups through her initiative titled Project Acceptance.

“Over the summer I wrote a grant to Donors Choose to start Project Acceptance, which is a program that spreads disability awareness,” said Thompson.  “At the same time we help our students practice on the skills that we incorporate into our curriculum such as social communication, daily hygiene, and other life skills.”

Pup Cups opened at the start of the 2019-2020 school year. The endeavor initially began with students in Thompson’s class selling beverages from a stationary cart in her classroom.

Princeton Elementary student Jenna Williams (left) serves Princeton Elementary Principal Melissa Hurst (right) a cup of coffee from the Pup Cups beverage cart.

“My initial startup was the beverage cart so that my students could spread disability awareness and also practice on the skills we incorporate in our curriculum,” said Thompson.

After just the first week the class was able to expand their operation to two mobile beverage carts and one stationary cart thanks to several donations.

“We go around on Friday mornings and serve coffee and bottled water from our beverage cart,” said Princeton Elementary teacher Allyson Flemer. “All of our children are assigned different jobs. They’re learning social skills, how to handle money, and functional skills they’ll be able to use in their lives.”

The students who participate in Pup Cups are enrolled in self-contained classrooms where they focus on not only standard curriculum but also social and emotional learning.

“This has allowed them to speak up and have a voice to share what they know,” said Thompson.

Princeton Elementary student Joseph Heaton-Rhodes (right) serves Princeton Elementary teacher Taylor Adams (left) a cup of coffee from the Pup Cups beverage cart.

Thompson said that Project Acceptance has allowed her students to put these skills to use and interact with their peers in other classrooms while also learning life skills.

“Pup Cups has been the perfect addition to Princeton Elementary,” said Princeton Elementary Principal Melissa Hurst. “When our teachers approached us about the idea for Pup Cups it seemed like the perfect fit for a place where community is at the heart of everything we do.”

Thompson and the rest of her colleagues hope that Pup Cups will raise enough money to take their students on field trips and possibly visit Bitty and Beau’s in Wilmington. Bitty and Beau’s is a widely popular coffee shop chain that originated in Wilmington and is run by employees with intellectual and developmental disabilities.