2015 Excellence in Education Spotlight: Alexander Paul Institute's Facilities

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 Facilities, single location.

An expected 40-percent job growth in esthetics over the next 10 years and a lack of esthetics programs in the area prompted Alexander Paul Institute to add a large, state-of-the-art student spa to the school during recent renovations. The spa features equipment that allows more services, such as oxygen facials, chemical peels, sunless tanning, body wraps and more to be added to the curriculum.

Designed for Growth

During the second half of 2014, Alexander Paul Institute underwent a large-scale renovation on the five-year-old facility. The school added 46 percent more square footage to increase student population growth, revenue and enhance the student experience.

Our use of space wasn’t the best it could have been,” Alex Naoum, co-owner of Alexander Paul, says. “We had two different classrooms for theory and practical—most schools use one classroom. We needed to remodel.”

Knowing there was not a good esthetics program in the area, Naoum invested in a new student spa complete with high-end equipment and an updated curriculum.

For the cosmetology side, classrooms with flexible functionality were created and equipped with projectors, computers and internet access. All classrooms can be used for esthetics, cosmetology, theory or practical performances.

“We wanted to provide more flexibility in our facilities so we could handle multiple starts at one time and multiple programs,” Naoum says. “Now we’re able to run several programs at the same time. We designed it ourselves and take a lot of pride in it.”

The renovated space, which replicates the true salon experience for clients and students, also features eco-friendly elements.

“We changed all our fixtures to be eco-friendly and installed energy-efficient units in all the bathrooms, too,” Naoum says. “We also sealed doors and windows and added shades/window coverings that are efficient."

A smart thermostat, tankless water system, LED lights, energy-efficient laundry and reconfigured air ducts increased efficiency even more, making a huge difference in the school’s carbon footprint.

“Our facilities set the tone for what we are trying to achieve at the school and represent the mission of Alexander Paul Institute,” Naoum says. “The facilities send a message to current students, potential students, and staff that our organization takes education seriously and wants the best possibly environment for our students and staff.”

For other school owners who might feel overwhelmed at the thought of a complete renovation, Naoum says the long-term results are worth it.

“Cost will long be forgotten, but what will remain is an inspirational environment for your students and staff that will lead to positive outcomes in all metrics by which schools are judged,” he says. 

Alexander Paul Instititute owners Paul, George and Alex Naoum.

School Spotlight: Alexander Paul Institute of Hair Design

Location: Greenville, North Carolina

Owners: Paul, George and Alex Naoum

Established: January 2009

Average enrollment: 40

Best student perk: "Independence and autonomy,” Naoum says. “The biggest way our student experience differs from most schools is the level of independence the students have, which is also associated with more responsibility. The students manage their own breaks, time, clientele, personal services and shared responsibilities to the operation of the school. They are treated like employees rather than students, which gives them a greater purpose at the school and develops them into more successful and prepared professionals. Students need soft skills in addition to technical skills to get used to the salon environment. Our whole facility is built around inspiring students and keeping them passionate. We tiled the whole facility with imported tile rather than concrete, our classrooms have flower arrangements and are beautifully decorated—it keeps students motivated.”

AACS member? Yes; joined in 2011.

What is one big idea you've adopted from an AACS event or talking to another AACS member? “AACS played an integral role in our expansion, and therefore, our recognition as the top honoree in the Facilities category,” Naoum says. “At an annual conference a few years ago, my brother and I attended a class on adding new programs in addition to cosmetology. From the class, we gained useful information about other programs, but more importantly, we were inspired to make our school bigger and better to serve our community and the industry. In addition, during the process of expanding our school, I had conversations with many people I met through AACS events and through the listserv. Most notably, I had a conversation with Robert Kelley, who gave me invaluable tips on our new program and advised me on choosing equipment.”

What's one major improvement that you're planning for 2016? “Our biggest improvement for 2016 is confidential, and I hope to share it next year. However, we also plan on significantly altering schedules and start dates to enhance the student experience.”

What schools or educators inspire you? “When we first began looking at other schools when we opened in 2009, Bellus Academy caught my attention as a school that had embodied our vision for Alexander Paul Institute,” Naoum says. “We continue to be impressed by its model and organization. There are also a handful of other brand-independent schools that have a similar vision for our industry that we admire. In addition, from a regulatory standpoint, I really admire and have great gratitude for organizations like Empire, Regency and Marinello, who lead our industry and share resources to make it possible for schools like ours to exist in our hostile regulatory environment.”

What does your Excellence in Education recognition mean to you? “It truly validates our mission and goals for the school. We are very proud of the honor, and we announced it in a school assembly, on social media, and via e-mail to graduates. We are proud that all of our hard work and effort is recognized by an industry leader like MODERN SALON Media. The independent, outside recognition also validates our school’s efforts to students and potential students. We can talk about our successes, but being recognized provides another level of validation.”

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