Monica Nguyen takes coffee orders and chats with customers at Toasty’s. It’s a coffee shop in the concessions stand next to the gym at Abramson Sci Academy in New Orleans. Nguyen’s job at Toasty’s isn’t just part-time work she has to make extra money. This is actually part of her education.
Nguyen is a 20-year-old student at Opportunities Academy, a program run by the charter-school network Collegiate Academies. The program serves students up to age 22 who have moderate or significant developmental disabilities, with a focus on getting them ready for life after they leave the K-12 system.