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Focusing on the Future: Deptford school transforms library into cafe

Focusing on the Future: Old library in New Jersey transformed into classroom cafe
Focusing on the Future: Old library in New Jersey transformed into classroom cafe 02:33

DEPTFORD TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBS) -- An old library at Deptford Middle School has been transformed into a cafe for students and staff.

This is Mr. A's Café, where hot steamy coffee is served with a smile. Just about every morning the student-run and operated café inside the middle school has a line flowing out the door.

"I have a doughnut and a coffee, don't tell my wife," teacher, Greg Schofield, said.

"What we have built from the ground up, what they can do, their so many skill levels that they can do just from academic wise. But also the life skills," Michael Nicely, director of special services, said.

"I want to make sure when they walk through the door of that room this is the happiest place they could be," Gloria Micale, special education teacher, said.

She had a vision to turn this underused library into a special space for her students and others to enjoy.

"If someone is having a moment, we have zen den back here, this is for a particular student that may have some sensory needs," Micale said.

She says as a parent of a child with educational and medical needs, she knows firsthand what is needed for her students to thrive.

"Our program is definitely life skill-based, they can go into any section they want to work in," Micale said. "So one group may be working on shoe tying because that's the skill they need while another is working in the grocery store stocking shelves.

Or playing the piano, with this space filled with so many opportunities you have to wonder what's next for Ms. Micale and her students.

"I'll make room I might need to knock the wall down," Micale said.

"Which wall first of all? Principal John Schilling said.

He says why stop.

"Let's do it. It's worth trying," Schilling said. "Yes, academics come first but we can't teach what we can't learn unless you feel supported.

Like John Isabella, who says he enjoys managing the busier times.

"I have to concentrate and go slow," Isabella said.

While you wait to be served you might just get to hear a tune by Mr. A.

Know an outstanding high school senior that deserves recognition? Let us know by completing the form below and we may select the student to be featured in our "Focusing on the Future" series.

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