Dustin Villa of Aveda Institute Tucson was named the 2015 NAHA Student Hairstylist of the Year....
Dustin Villa of Aveda Institute Tucson was named the 2015 NAHA Student Hairstylist of the Year. || Makeup: Anne Skubis || Fashion styling: Vanessa Di Palma Wright (photo credit: Keith Bryce)Keith Bryce

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 School Culture, multiple locations.

Creating a culture where students and staff can learn and grow, and clients feel comfortable getting services is a challenge that requires a mission and dedication to it. At the Aveda Institutes in Colorado, Arizona and Utah, an environment of learning, celebration and appreciation has been carefully cultivated for maximum guest and student satisfaction.

Programmed to Thrive

When students start their cosmetology career at the Aveda Institute, they enter an environment where they will be inspired, empowered and have their confidence built up on a daily basis. The institute teaches students to believe in their dreams and inspire others through their work.

“I believe individuals want to be a part of something bigger, and I believe that a mission and culture is this something bigger,” Brad Van Dyke, education director, says. “We not only teach cosmetology/massage/esthetics, we also teach life lessons like Franklin Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”

From all-school celebrations to participation in the Beacon program to opportunities to study abroad, programs to enhance the school’s culture abound.

Competitions are another student-favorite at the institutes. The Edwin Neill II Full Potential Competition was created to emphasize the importance of team work, which the schools have embraced. To compete, students work in teams of three, with each team completing a look using cut/style, face color and hair color. The resulting image is judged on creativity, artistry, difficulty, presentation, sanitation and product recommendation.

“Students also submit a blueprint to show their understanding of what they created,” Van Dyke says. “Our educators also compete in the contest.”

For students who want to continue to pursue competitions, the school encourages participation in NAHA as well.

“Students submit an application, a portfolio of images they’ve done and retail, service, attendance and academic numbers,” Van Dyke says. “They also submit a YouTube video on how the experience could impact their career.”

And for students in love with the fashion side of cosmetology, they can apply to go assist at New York Fashion Week.

“We typically get about 75 applicants and take 26,” Van Dyke says. “We narrow it down to the best of the best and get our education team to give their top picks before we pass the list onto the directors.”  

Other programs the school offers include studying abroad, Beacon, Aveda launch parties and Experience Night—an evening where students can invite guests, friends and family to the school to experience points of difference in services.

“When prospective students and team members enter our building, they mention it just feels good,” Van Dyke says. “I believe this is the culture. With a strong culture, it’s also easier to keep the team and students moving in the same direction.”

Van Dyke advises having a clear mission and vision to cultivate a culture that works in your school.

“You must have persistence in executing the mission with integrity, patience with growing a deep root system of culture, and have the right team in place,” Van Dyke says. 

Aveda Institute's New York Fashion Week student team.

School Spotlight: Aveda Institute CO, AZ, UT

Location: Denver, Colorado; Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona; Provo, Utah

Owner: Dale LeMonds

Established: August 2005

Average enrollment: Denver 300-350; all others 125-150

Best student perk: "We’re always striving to be the best,” Van Dyke says. “That includes curriculum, the way we test, programs and how we look.”

AACS member? Yes.

What's one major improvement that you're planning for 2016? “We’re always looking to develop a deeper culture," Van Dyke says. "Our mission is ‘Inspire Greatness.’ We want to better our best. We’re really looking at the potential of technology (online training, e-learning) and where it can develop our students at a deeper level."

What schools or educators inspire you? “The Aveda network—we really draw on each other. Our ability to reach out to someone like Aveda Global Educator Ian Michael Black—the accessibility of these people make that inspiration within our grasp.” 

What does your Excellence in Education recognition mean to you? “Part of our Aveda mission is to set an example, and I believe any award gives validation,” Van Dyke says. “And the Excellence in Education award is another validation that we are doing things right and setting an example of best practices. We celebrate by an organizational e-mail, announcements in our team huddles, an article in our monthly newsletter, and finally, through our social media outlets.”

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.