MODERN SALON's Excellence in Education annual recognition program celebrates leading cosmetology schools, highlighting innovative programs and best practices in eight categories and two divisions (single location and multi-unit schools).The 2015 Excellence in Education honorees were announced October 24 at the American Association of Cosmetology Schools conference in Phoenix, Arizona. Among 38 schools recognized, top honorees were named in each category. In this Excellence in Education Spotlight series, MODERN SALON connects with each of the top honorees to further explore programs and how schools are collaborating to develop the future of professional beauty. Here, a closer look at the 2015 top honoree in Placement, single location.
Students at Bella Capelli Academy start exploring career opportunities within their first six weeks of school and the conversation continues until they graduate with a job.
Most students who enter cosmetology school do so with the end goal of becoming a stylist at a salon. But at Bella Capelli, educators make future professionals aware there are many career opportunities available to them in the beauty industry.
“The one thing that’s important about those lessons is we show them all the different paths they can pursue in the industry—owner, distributor, editorial, educator—and give them the tools to understand the avenues in the industry,” Jordan Cannon, education leader, says. “We also go into the business aspect of owning a salon, building a book, prebooking, talking to guests, and building connection and trust with everyone you work with.”
Lunch-and-learns with regional Paul Mitchell salons give students an inside look at these careers.
“For example, a lot of future professionals want to be educators in a salon when they graduate,” Gina Garone, school director, says. “So we explain that path—they’ll work in a salon for a couple years and complete certifications. We give them a behind-the-scenes look.”
Garone adds, “Our goal is for them to graduate and have a book already started and ready to go with them. The report we give them when they graduate has all the information on their guests on it—and it’s theirs. We don’t want their clients after they graduate.”
Instead, Bella Capelli puts the major focus on students making a better income when they graduate with a book that has already been started.
Once students make it through their first eight weeks, they’re encouraged to start thinking about job opportunities.
“Our placement leader visits salons all over the area and gets to know them first,” Garone says. “The leader makes sure the salon has a culture and business sense where we want to place our future professionals. Then she schedules a visit for students to visit the salons.”
The placement leader teaches students what to look for and what questions to ask when they visit the salons themselves.
“We also invite many salon owners and managers to guest speak and tell students what they expect out of them as an employee,” Garone says.
Career fairs with 40 to 50 salons are another way students can connect with salons. They prepare with professional development classes and bring a polished resume and digital portfolio.
When a student is ready to graduate, they meet with Garone and the placement leader to talk about where they’ll go.
“Some go out of state, and I call schools there to get suggestions of appropriate salons,” Garone says. “The goal is for them to have a job and know what they are getting into. We want them to work there and stay there.”
Garone feels it’s important to get personally involved in each student’s placement.
“It’s so important to the future professionals’ success, and not only just placing them right out of school but following up in a few months to ensure that the position is still working well,” she says.
“Being personally involved also shows the team and the Future Professionals how much you truly do care about their success.”
Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Owners: Paul DeSabato
Established: June 2004
Name of school: Bella Capelli
Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Average enrollment: varies every year
Best student perk: “We look at the way each future professional learns utilizing multiple intelligence, to teach them all of the tools to be successful in the beauty industry,” Garone says. “We not only teach the foundation of the industry and technical skills but we also go above and beyond by teaching professional development classes where students learn the tools to be successful business leaders. Each future professional gets one-on-one attention from every single team member in the school to ensure they are growing in each area of their life, whether it be one-on-one meetings with the director to help them with placement or one-on-one meetings with the future professional advisor to ensure they are progressing through the program.”
AACS member? Yes Year joined? 2013
What is one big idea you've adopted from an AACS event or talking to another AACS member? “Maintaining our innovative approach to our business. AACS provides classes and vendors to help us stay up to date with the beauty industry, but also how we can be the best in our field of education—and that's through innovation.”
What one major improvement are you planning for your school in 2016? “We’ll be placing a major focus on shifting our curriculum to ensure each future professional truly learns and understands all aspects of each avenue in the beauty industry.”
What schools or educators inspire you? “The Paul Mitchell Schools in general inspire me because of how much we all not only focus on ensuring the future professionals are successful with their technical skills and business sense, but even more importantly, we teach them how to be honest, nice, caring human beings by giving back to the communities and teaching a culture in the school.”
What does the Excellence in Education award mean to you? “My team works so hard each and every day with these future professionals—they are up late nights prepping lesson plans, they are here every day giving it their all to ensure the future professionals have the best education they possibly can,” Garone says. “So for me, the award shows all their hard work and dedication to the school. I’m going to have a staff celebration where I take them all out and celebrate all of their hard work, and at that time I will present the award to them.”