Twenty years ago, Julie Grylls found her calling in life. She loved working with students who needed a little extra help.
Seventeen years ago, she joined the staff at Ruby Van Meter, a school for intellectually challenged students. The students at the school can be 12 to 21 years of age. Grylls is an associate in the classroom and a job coach at Plymouth Church’s Coffee shop called Plymouth Grounds, which is run by students from Ruby Van Meter.
Each morning Grylls helps her students at the coffee shop learn on-site job skills that include team work to customer service. For the last 10 years, she has worked a lot with the transition students who are 18-21. She teaches them invaluable skills that will help them transition into a paying job.
“My goal is to help these kids prepare for life,” Grylls says. “They learn so much each day from the coffee shop whether it’s laundry or baking desserts or how to greet a customer. I strive to teach them about the community and help them learn to do a job. I love what I do. It’s the best job in the world.”
The coffee shop opened in 2012, and Grylls has been involved since it first became a work site for the school.
“The coffee house wasn’t being used, so the church and the school worked together to create this amazing opportunity. The Plymouth Church community has been such a nurturing and accepting environment for these kids to work in,” Grylls says.
In the beginning, Grylls knew she loved coffee but didn’t know thing about making coffee drinks.
“Every day is a learning experience with the kids,” she says. “I learn so much from them and get to stand back and watch them. It’s amazing. That’s why I do what I do.”
Grylls began working in special education because of how it made her feel.
“I just felt rewarded working with this type of student,” she says. “I had an experience in high school where I was like a peer helper for a special student. I felt so fulfilled. This is where I need to be. It’s a feeling that is hard to describe. Watching the kids smile puts a smile on my face every day. Even learning to make eye contact with someone… the little things are big things.”