Susan Haise, owner of The Institute of Beauty and Wellness.
Susan Haise, owner of The Institute of Beauty and Wellness.

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 Technology, single location.

If there’s a way technology can make learning more fun and efficient, The Institute of Beauty and Wellness is utilizing it. From textbooks on iPads to social media classes on branding, the school has embraced new tools and implemented them to make the most of its students’ time.

Head of the Class

Upon admission to The Institute of Beauty and Wellness in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, students receive an iPad with their kit that includes full access to the curriculum 24/7, iAnnotate to make notes and highlight their digital textbook, detailed technical training, step-by-step view and review, an emphasis on body position to promote wellness, scissor handling and texturizing, foundations for future learning and chat/collaboration features.

“The use of technology in the classroom and online curriculum is a critical piece of where we are and where we’re going,” Susan Haise, owner of the institute,” says. “Our goal is to be 100-percent paper free, and we start with the iPad distribution. Textbooks can be opened through iBook, so once they’re downloaded, you don’t even need WiFi to open them.”

Currently, the institute uses Pivot Point LAB (Learning About Beauty) textbooks for esthetics and cosmetology, and in 2016, massage textbooks will be online as well.

The LAB program has allowed the institute to customize its curriculum in all of its programs and help create an engaging learning environment.

“It’s easy to grade, which saves time for the faculty,” Haise says. “Also, the Pivot Point team has been phenomenal in their support of the integration of their tools. Our faculty has had three classes in the past year on how to integrate, use Apple TV and a variety of apps and LAB products to facilitate an engaging learning environment.” 

The institute’s next step in revolutionizing the curriculum is to partner with LAB to bring cosmetology and esthiology students an online portal to allow them to connect outside of class, chat with each other when questions come up and gamification to help make learning even more dynamic and fun.

“This is not your mother’s beauty school,” Haise says. “It’s a highly sensory experience—videos, social media—technology keeps students more engaged and having more fun in their program.”

Students at the institute agree. They love having their textbook on the iPad and the ability to make notes.

“The LAB program allows them to simplify all they’ve learned and narrow down important take-aways,” Haise says.

Social media is another big focus for students at the institute. They have at least one class on how to use social media to create brand awareness during their time at school. The school firmly believes students should not have separate profiles on social media platforms for personal and professional pages, and they teach students why this is key.

“For SEO, it will breed more engagement,” Haise says. “They need to be one brand—YOU. They can be in other groups—a client group, colleague group, etc—but they need just one profile.”

Students also learn about digital media and opportunities to blog.

“There are companies that pay for beauty blogs if they like your work,” she says. “You could find a whole new revenue stream around blogging/posts. We teach them how to maximize that opportunity.”

Haise knows sharing their work can be intimidating for new stylists, so the school teaches them how to be confident enough to ask a guest to take a before-and-after photo.

“The guest has 400 friends, you have 400 friends—you’ve just reached 800 people,” Haise says.

With a high degree of engagement in social media that encompasses new recruits and alumni as well as current students, Haise relies on consulting groups to move her in the right direction.

“You have to have the right partners,” she says. “In the last six years, I’ve hired three different outside marketing companies to help guide and drive our marketing actions. We put a lot of investment in people and resources to engage at this high level.”

Haise also advises creating a social media calendar based on best practices, and looking outside the beauty industry to keep your school fresh.

“Follow other brands that inspire you,” she says. “It could be a restaurant, a department story, a fashion designer—maybe even a brand like Apple.”

School Spotlight: The Institute of Beauty and Wellness

Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Owner: Susan Haise

Established: April 1994

Average enrollment: 160

Best student perk: "A fun, energetic faculty with lots of engagement,” Haise says. “I also bring in panels and speakers that cover all topics—bridal, medi spa summit, Ayurveda speakers and more. Students feel we are trusted, long-term partners for their success.”

AACS member? Yes.

What is one big idea you've adopted from an AACS event or talking to another AACS member? “The biggest take-away right now is all about compliance. We talk to students about the IRS so they understand to claim their entire income—including tips. We teach them about their 401k and how to allocate for savings with a worksheet that figures out how much they have to earn each month to pay for their lifestyle. We also adopted Title 9 training. Title 9 says you need to provide a safe environment/awareness around sexual harassment. AACS provides four-hour certification training for a Title 9 trainer in every school.” 

What's one major improvement that you're planning for 2016? “Our school offers 10 different programs, and we want to coordinate an online training component for each one of them,” Haise says. “We’ve already been approved to incorporate 100 hours of online training. We want to do a deeper dive into online education to make programs more convenient.” 

What schools or educators inspire you? “I am always watching other Excellence in Education schools and watching online education in general through iTunes.”

What does your Excellence in Education recognition mean to you? “It’s a big deal. We’ve been a recipient for the past few years and use the MODERN SALON logo on our site. My admissions team uses it underneath their salutation on e-mail, too. For students, we’ll be announcing at November student assemblies.” 

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