The Driving Force Behind Our Student Center Remodel – Mrs. Sheri Nutter

New Vision, for this Christian boarding school's, PX student center, the remodel was spearheaded by Sheri Nutter, a vocational education enthusiast

Canyonville Academy’s student center, the PX, was remodeled over this past Christmas break. It’s rebirth was a success, changing the PX student center into a dual purpose cafe; a wonderfully fresh coffee shop for the students to enjoy, and a vocational class where the students gain real life job skills and training. Join us as we interviewed Mrs. Sheri Nutter, the driving force behind the remodel, for an interview about her past, goals for the PX, and her passion to help students succeed.

Mrs. Sheri Nutter Interview

It had been several years since I was last able to work with the student due to health reasons, and I missed it terribly. In the summer of 2018, I had begun praying for God to make a way for me to work at Canyonville Academy again, in a way that took my health challenges in to consideration. In the early Fall of 2018 – my son Cameron Nutter told me of a need in the PX – they needed someone to manage it, and they were interested in perhaps seeing the space used for something other than what it was currently (pool hall and snack shop). Immediately I thought of a college campus student center – a comfy one that students could relax and gather in for conversation, games, studying, or just relaxing.

I approached Cori Burkhert with a proposal to become a part time volunteer and make the space in to a coffee shop – one that could be used as a dual purpose of a vocational training center. I had two coffee shops when I was younger and we lived in Alaska, so this project was in my wheel-house – even though it had been many years. We left Fairbanks in 2000 to embark on a whole new life path, working with teens. That is when I began teaching vocational classes and it soon became my absolute passion. I love teaching students a hands-on skill that will propel them forward in their lives with a job skill, and confidence. Combining my coffee shop experience with vocational teaching was a thrilling prospect! My proposal was meet with great enthusiasm, and so I began to pray God would make me able to physically handle the demands of remodeling the PX space, and creating a working coffee shop.

To my delight, God cleared every hurdle for me; sending help exactly when I needed it, and also materials! Every prayer was answered in a way that left little room for doubt; this new student center was something God was behind in a big way! The space was updated to reflect a more relaxing, warm vibe – couches and comfortable seating were added as a gathering area – a dining room space, a library, the pool table was relocated to the side of the space, and then café tables were arranged around it. The middle area behind the counter was taken down to counter top height, and the espresso bar was installed there. New lighting was installed to soften the room – and the “cherry on top” was the relocation of the neon sign used by the Galley Café years ago – to the new café!

The remodel was done over Christmas break while the students were gone. Lance and Cameron Nutter as well as local student Layla Young – all assisted me in the daunting task. After two weeks, the transformation was complete. I could hardly wait for the students to return! After they did, the café remained closed for an additional 2 weeks for training. It was at that point I learned that 4 of our deans, the Pippins and the Wolfords, had been baristas prior to coming to CA! Again, God’s providence became clear. They were happy to help me train the students, and cheer them on as they learned. And Stephanie Pippin spent hours upon hours working closely with the students and I am incredibly grateful for all her help.

When the café reopened, the staff and students fell in love with the new space immediately. It was incredibly rewarding to hear the resounding chorus of “Wow!” – I felt so blessed that God had used me, a broken vessel by any standards, to bring such joy to the campus. The PX Café (or PXC) was born! The café is now a vibrant, relaxing “business” – a space where students and staff alike love to lounge, and play, and enjoy some pretty amazing treats. The 17 member staff of the PXC each work 2-5 hours a week; open for Breakfast, lunch, after school, and after dinner and on weekends. There are several student managers, and my assistant manager, senior Angela Lee, all provide amazing support to me, and the other staff. The students are learning very important job skills; how to run a modern Point of Sale system (POS), customer service, food handling procedures, and how to be a barista. All skills that will make them highly employable by the end of the school year.

I couldn’t have imagined a year ago what God had in store for me. It has been greater than anything I could have dreamt for myself. Working with the students again, watching them enjoy the new PXC, working and learning – seeing staff and students relax and truly embrace the new space, just gives me the biggest thrill. I love seeing the ways a Mighty God brings joy and fulfillment to our lives. He knows the desires of our hearts – and if we turn ourselves over to Him, we will begin to see His divine plan for our lives. We aren’t just making coffee – we are make life changes. We are growing as people, and servants. And enjoying some amazing coffee while we do it!

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