A cosmetology school in Herkimer, New York has incorporated real life experience with its cosmetology classes. Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton Otsego BOCES operates a salon and spa within the school to allow students to perform services for community residents during their senior year.
Known as “Salon Illusions,” the student salon provides a variety of services to the community at a discount. Services include manicures, haircuts, hair coloring, waxing and pedicures. All of the services are supervised by Holly Rotundo Fischer, an instructor at the school and Sarah Jacquays-Alberts, an assistant teacher. The salon is open three mornings a week by appointment. Haircuts can be scheduled for as little as $7 with all of the proceeds going to help pay for the cost of supplies used by the salon.
Students of the school say that they enjoy working with the community and getting the experience that they will take with them once they graduate. “It’s amazing. It’s a really good experience, good hands-on,” says 17-year old student, Sierra Graham.
The salon gives the students clinical experience as well as allowing them the opportunity to practice communication skills. Communication skills are critical for not only attracting new clients, but also for maintaining a client list over the course of a cosmetologist’s career. Many clients confide in their stylists during their visits and those who are able to establish good relationships are often able to obtain repeat business.
Some students find their first time working with a live customer to be a daunting experience at first but feel that the experience is priceless in preparing them for their future careers. The clinics allow the students to perform services with the safety net of having an on-site supervisor guiding them through the process. Most students believe that they are learning more by working on real clients than they would by performing the same services on mannequins.
“It’s so much fun. I wouldn’t trade it,” said senior Kayleigh Clark.