onthejob training

Heritage Dairy Stores and Kingsway Learning Center partner to provide a unique learning opportunity for students with disabilities.

Thorofare, N.J.-based Heritage Dairy Stores hasstarted a new employee-training program. Instead of training current c-store employees, however, it’s training thec-store employees of the future as part of a new partnershipwith Kingsway Learning Center, a non-profit, non-sectarian special education school helping children with multiple disabilitiesin the New Jersey area.

As part of the new joint venture, Heritage has contributed toKingsway’s Career Exploration Program—a curriculum that provides real-world training to students—by building a mock storewithin the school’s training facilities. The training center functions in the same fashion as any of the 37 Heritage stores operating across New Jersey. It features a soda fountain, a hot doggrill, a coffee station as well as a variety of snacks and sundries.

Students enrolled in the program get a hands-on experienceworking in a c-store and a feel for the various responsibilities.They man the cash register, stock the shelves, service the coffee station, clean the store and so on.

“With this program, students learn at their own pace to beresponsible for their jobs,” said Stephanie Mis, community relations coordinator for Kingsway.

The idea for the store came about from a former director ofoperations for Heritage who thought that the store could providea service to the students of Kingsway by providing them with lifeskills that would help them outside the classroom, accordingMaria Schaffner, director of human resources for Heritage.

The partnership between the school and the store seems likea natural fit. “Heritage is a family-oriented company andKingsway is a family-oriented school,” Schaffner said. “The relationship is a great opportunity for both our company and theschool.”

The original plan for the store took just over a year to materialize. The store—which had its official ribbon-cutting ceremony on Nov. 14—is fully functional, serving the school’s faculty,staff and other students.

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