Special-needs class has this fund-raiser all sewed up

May 10, 2022
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Myles Deal puts the finishing touches on an embroidery shop for the Tic Toc Embroidery Shop.

By Amanda Rogers

Mansfield Record

Kevin Patch watches closely as the large sewing machine expertly applies a logo to the front of a shirt.

Patch, a member of the TIES (Transitioning through Independence and Employability Skills) class at Ben Barber Innovation Academy, stays calm, even if the complicated machine makes a mistake.

“I don’t get upset,” he said. “I just go get somebody.”

Patch and his twin brother enjoy helping in the class’s Tic Toc Embroidery Shop, a fund-raiser for the special-needs class.

“(TIES students) are done with their regular academics and need help transitioning to adult living,” explained Kristie Cawthon, who teaches the class. “They stay until they meet their goals. They need to be out working with their peers and not in high school. Some are able to meet their goals in six to eight weeks, some may take longer.”

Kevin Patch and teacher Kristie Cawthon program the embroidery machine.

The TIES class has been embroidering since 2009, when they received a grant to buy two embroidery machines. In 2011, they received another grant to upgrade to the larger Brother PR 650E, a six-needle embroidery machine.

“We needed a way to do a fund-raiser and I wanted to do something that did not involve food,” Cawthon said. “We had a job coach that was really good at sewing and she got us into it. The job coach retired and it was either give it up or learn to do it. I learned.”

The students help with different steps, Cawthon said.

“There are so many steps that everyone can do something,” she said. “Kevin is our expert. He watches the machine. Miguel and Myles are good at dabbing, getting the marks and stabilizer off to make it a finished product. I digitize the logos, and I have some that are really good at doing names.”

The Tic Toc Embroidery Shop does a lot of work for groups inside the school district, including embroidering 90 chef coats for the culinary students’ competition. The students also do embroidery work for the public, charging $5 for a monogram, $7 for a 4-inch by 4-inch logo and $10 for a 5x7 logo, with a one to two-week turnaround.  The shop is only open during the school year.

The embroidery shop earns $2,000-$3,000, which pays for cooking classes, shopping trips, an employers’ appreciation luncheon, class activities and a graduation luncheon.

The 11 students in the TIES class work in the community, help set up at Ben Barber’s Savvy’s Bistro and deliver food to campuses.

“We grocery shop and they make their lunch every day,” Cawthon said.

“This prepares them for the next step,” she said. “Once school ends they don’t need to go home and sit. Our program teaches job skills. They need to be actively engaged.

“We need to get our special-needs kids out in the community,” Cawthon said. “There’s so much these kids can do if we just give them the opportunity.”

For more information about the Tic Toc Embroidery Shop, email Cawthon at kristiecawthon@misdmail.org

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