Students and staff at the school's holiday pancake feed.  (photo credit: Eric Fisher Academy)
Students and staff at the school's holiday pancake feed. (photo credit: Eric Fisher Academy)Eric Fisher Academy

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 The Next Level, single location.

The learning never ends for students at the Eric Fisher Academy. The school provides numerous classes and learning opportunities for alumni at a nominal cost so they’ll always remain a part of the Eric Fisher family.

Students for Life

At Eric Fisher Academy, students are taught that education shouldn’t stop at graduation—it should be ongoing. To support this belief, the school provides advanced education opportunities so students have a place to go where they’ll be guaranteed classes that will improve their skills and develop their careers.

“We give them relevant information,” Eric Fisher, owner of Eric Fisher Academy, says. “They can put classes like baliage, barbering and long hairdressing into practice right away.”

Opportunities to learn are provided weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly. Every week, the school hosts a Tuesday night class and Wednesday morning demos. The Tuesday classes are advanced education for stylists and assistants at Eric Fisher salons, but are open for anyone to join. They cover long hairdressing, blow drying techniques, haircutting and business skills.

The Wednesday demos are a great way to learn about new products, and once a month, Fisher personally does a demo for all students and alumni.

And every month, an advanced education class is offered and rotated every 16 weeks throughout the year. The workshops, which cover advanced color and cutting techniques, are taught by master stylists from the Eric Fisher Salons and open to licensed cosmetologists, alumni and EFA students. The price is discounted for students and alumni.

“The first couple of years of a stylist’s career should be all about learning,” says Fisher. “But it must be the right education.” 

One of the most exciting learning opportunities comes quarterly when the school brings in an outside guest artist for a look and learn.

“We usually have about 150 people at these,” Fisher says. “The educator stays for three days to teach our learning leaders, students and anyone else who wants to come.”

But the most exciting educational event for students and alumni is the yearly two-day Summit held every January where six top guest artists come in from around the world to present.

“We do a model call and the artists choose models to present at a show on Sunday night,” Fisher says. “They each get about 20 minutes to present and alumni always assist them.”

For a new stylist, this is the opportunity of a lifetime.

“These kids get to rub noses with some really famous people,” Fisher says. “Part of their education is to inspire them and show them the possibilities. They don’t even know what they can do yet.”

Outside of all the educational opportunities, alumni can also stay connected to EFA by joining its Facebook group for alumni or using the student app, which allows them to upload their resume and apply to jobs on the app. They’ll also get notifications and messages about upcoming advanced education opportunities.

Or, they can just call Fisher.

“I give everyone my phone number,” he says. “They can connect with me and ask for advice whenever they want.”

It’s not really school—it’s family.


School Spotlight: Eric Fisher Academy

Location: Wichita, Kansas

Owners: Eric and Mary Fisher

Established: May 2007

Average enrollment: 150

Best student perk: “The fact that we have a team that is value-driven. Nobody has a ‘job,’ they have a sense of purpose,” Fisher says. “Our values are caring and empathy, and we expect everyone to master their craft in whatever they are doing. Everyone understands the ‘why’ behind the school. We want them to care about every student here.

AACS member? Yes Year joined? 2007

What is one big idea you've adopted from an AACS event or talking to another AACS member? “Angie Schuler (co-owner of Kenneth Shuler Schools) recently said, ‘Back in the day when you watched Bonanza, you knew it would have an ending each episode. Today you watch the Walking Dead, which leaves people wanting more. You have to leave students wanting more, too.’ You must be an inspiration--learning leaders must be optimistic, positive, inspiring, well-connected, well-educated and masters of their craft. No more Bonanza.”

What one major improvement are you planning for your school in 2016? “We believe in creative destruction,” Fisher says. “It’s when you take all your processes and procedures and you rip them apart and change—it’s an ongoing thing. It can apply to the curriculum, enrollment, how we market to people--anything. We are constantly practicing this creative destruction. Everything we do is under constant improvement.”

What schools or educators inspire you? “A lot of schools inspire me. I look for people who really care and have good logic behind systems and structure—a good program with smart, identified key benchmarks. We want those kind of schools for our Prosper U business program. It will help them create better students and cash flow.”

What does the Excellence in Education award meant to you? “We are a six-time winner. It’s a super big deal to us. We have a culture of celebration. We buy lunch for our staff, post on our website and most importantly, show our team they are appreciated. People go beyond the call of duty when they feel appreciated.”


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