Every year, MODERN SALON Media pays tribute to great work being done by leading cosmetology schools via its Excellence in Education recognition program. Hundreds of applications are submitted by individual and multi-unit schools across the country, and for 2015, 38 schools were named honorees in eight categories ranging from Community Service to Placement to Technology.

MODERN SALON Media Vice President/Group Publisher Steve Reiss announced the 2015 Excellence in Education top honorees on Saturday, October 24, 2015, at the AACS Annual Convention & Expo in Phoenix, Arizona. 

Excellence in Education was created in conjunction with a partnership between Modern Salon Media and the American Association of Cosmetology Schools (AACS); the program helps the school community collect and share examples of great work being done across the country.

Two top honorees—one individual school location, and a multi-location school organization—were recognized in each of the eight categories.

In the Next Level category, cosmetology schools are doing a better job than ever staying connected to their alumni. Facebook pages and other social media platforms, apps, dedicated websites and e-mail newsletters keep alumni up-to-date on everything from new classes to job opportunities.

The top Next Level honorees this year are Eric Fisher Academy in Wichita, KS, for individual locations; and Toni&Guy Hairdressing Academy in Plano, TX, for multi-unit schools. However, all of the 2015 honorees had inspiring ideas to share.

Technical skills should only get better for the alumni of these great schools—the academies are staying on trend and offering specialized classes in balayage, barbering, advanced coloring techniques and much more. There is a lot of complimentary education and free perks available to alumni as well. World-renown guest speakers, annual get-togethers, competitions, fashion shows and much more allow stylists to continue to hone their skills and stay connected to their alma maters.

And for alumni interested in becoming teachers, many schools are offering instructor programs as well as more informal mentor programs. 

Here are a few ways the Next Level top honorees support their students beyond graduation day:

Eric Fisher Academy in Wichita, KS, offers Wednesday demos and Tuesday-night classes to everyone to learn about products, new techniques and more.

The Next Level in individual locations

  • Discounts for life at Toni&Guy Hairdressing Academy, Plano, TX: Alumni enjoy 50 percent off at all Toni&Guy Academies. 
  • Bite-sized education at Crave Beauty Academy, Ballwin, MO: Alumni are invited to participate in these advanced classes on everything from guest services to hair extensions to skin care.
  • Advanced Academy at Arrojo Cosmetology School, New York, NY: Adjoined to the Arrojo Studio, this academy offers progressive classes for licensed professionals. Students are encouraged to attend while still in school with incentives.
  • Advanced educatoin and summit at Eric Fisher Academy, Wichita, KS: Four advanced education classes are offered to students, alumni and licensed cosmetologists. The price is discounted for students and alumni. Classes are offered each month and rotated every 16 weeks throughout the year. Additionally, the annual summit is open to all students and alumni.
  • Orientation at Crave Beauty Academy, Wichita, KS: Alumni participate in orientation activities, including mentoring, student focus groups, round-table discussions and more.
  • Reaching out at Aveda Institute Nashville, Franklin, TN: The Institute director reaches out to at least five alumni every week to talk about the culture in their current salons, training programs, and how the institute can help them get to the next level. 
  • Guest educators and classes at The Institute of Beauty and Wellness, Milwaukee, WI: Educators such as Nicholas French, Allen Ruiz, Vivienne Mackinder  and more visit the school and are available for alumni and students alike. Classes cover hair, spa, nails, makeup, business, and safety and sanitation.
  • Federico Advanced at Federico Beauty Institute, Sacramento, CA: Established in 2013, this is the Institute’s independent education house designed to bring quality education at all price levels to salon professionals and alumni. They have hosted guest artists like Nick Arrojo, DJ Muldoon, Douglas McCoy and more. An in-house videographer captures the events and posts content on YouTube.
  • Apprentice program at Paul Mitchell the School Esani, Roswell, GA: Mastery Beauty Apprentice and Mastery Business Apprentice program gives students a taste of the benefits of advanced education while still in cosmetology school.

Alumni receive 50 percent off at all Toni&Guy Academies.

The Next Level in multi-unit schools

  • Dedicated website at Paul Mitchell Schools, Sandy, UT: The Paul Mitchell Professional website is where alumni stay connected (paulmitchellpro.com). They will find business-building tools, continuing education opportunities, product info, events and more.
  • Customized placement at Nurtur Aveda Institutes, Columbus, OH: Each institute offers customized placement for partner salons who regularly hire graduates.
  • Photographic awards and new collection release at Toni&Guy Hairdressing Academy, Plano, TX: This annual event is open to students, alumni and employees from across the country. It launches with Zak Mascolo and the Toni&Guy art team debuting new cuts and color techniques for the year.

To view the entire list of finalists, click here. 

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