Friday, January 6, 2023
To apply for a cosmetology license, you must:
Be 17 years old
Complete a 1,000-hour-approved course of study and pass both the New York State written and practical examinations.
Be examined by a physician, physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner.
Like most high school students, these 33 juniors and seniors from across the district rise early for their morning classes, but instead of sitting through your average course subjects — world history, algebra, English literature — they are learning hair coloring, nail enhancement and skin care.
For two and a half hours every weekday, in addition to their usual coursework, students like North High senior Krista Modesti are training in cosmetology, learning the pen-and-paper fundamentals of their craft but also earning hands-on experience at the school’s salon.
“We’ve been preparing to practice on clients our whole junior year for this,” said Modesti. “By the time we’re seniors, we need to have a full understanding of everything surrounding cosmetology. It’s not just hair. It’s not just makeup. You need to understand everything that goes with it.”
The goal of the program, which began more than 40 years ago, is to prepare a batch of aspiring hairy stylists and beauty specialists for the rigors and realities of the industry. And after completing 1,000 hours of working on Central High School’s salon floor, students are eligible to take the New York State Cosmetology license exam.
The program began in Memorial Junior High School, and then later moved to Central, according to district cosmetology teacher Karen Glasgow.
By the time they graduate from high school with their cosmetology license, students can go straight to working at a hair salon — or start investing in running their own, Glasgow noted.
“It’s a great program,” said Central Principal Joseph Pompilio. “One that has graduated hundreds of students who are now active in the professional field. Central celebrates its cosmetology students and their teacher Ms. Karen Glasgow.”
Once juniors accrued enough hours of training, they are able to practice on real clients during their senior year. It’s an important milestone for any would-be cosmetologist to reach before getting in front of paying customers, noted Glasglow.
“This gives them the chance to practice and perfect their skills in preparation for post-graduation real work experience, as opposed to only working on mannequins’ heads only,” she said.
What mannequin heads can’t provide is the one-to-one, in-person contact with flesh and bone clients, allowing students to understand and care for a client’s particular needs, requests, and comfort level. Customer service skills like developing interpersonal rapport are a big part of the job, which has the potential to drive away customers or keep them coming back as lifelong clients.
“We’re currently offering salon services Thursdays and Fridays from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.,” Modesti said. “We’re doing shampoo and set, color, manicure, cuts, blow dry, perms, facials, and color styling.”
The services are free, and the dedicated class of seniors is eager to get show off their beauty skills.
“Let’s say you’re doing a haircut, you need to know their skin tone, eye color, face shape, and body type. There’s a lot of stuff that goes into a haircut, more than you think,” Modesti said.
While working on clients is one of the most enriching parts of the program, it has faced some recent setbacks at least in the short run, noted Modesti.
The clientele has thinned compared to previous years, pointing to two years of school disruptions and closures caused by the coronavirus pandemic, where students were unable to practice on clients.
Glasgow found creative ways of getting new clients in front of the students like pampering residents at the Lynbrook Restorative Therapy and Nursing rehabilitation center.
Modesti hopes for a higher turnout from the local clients from Valley Stream until the end of the school year in June.
“I feel like nobody really knows about it anymore,” Modesti said. “So we’re trying to really get the word out there for everybody. I fought to get into this program, and I’m ready to show off what I’ve learned.”
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Friday, January 6, 2023