Ring lights for social media imagery at Avenue Five Institute in Austin, TX.
Ring lights for social media imagery at Avenue Five Institute in Austin, TX.

MODERN SALON Media annually collaborates with the American Association of Cosmetology Schools (AACS) for MODERN SALON’s Excellence in Education program. The purpose is to help the professional beauty school community gather, share and celebrate examples of great salon education experiences and beauty career development happening across the country. 2017 marks the seventh year of honoring schools through Excellence in Education.

Honorees are determined based on key criteria in each category and grouped according to school size or whether or not they entered as a multi-unit school or single location. Two top honorees are recognized in each category—one individual school location and a chain-school organization—and were announced at the AACS Annual Convention & Expo.

View all the 2017 Excellence in Education finalists here. 

To view top honorees in all eight categories, click here.

Individual location (tie): 
Avenue Five Institute, Austin, Texas
Eric Fisher Academy, Wichita, Kansas
Chain school (tie): 
Paul Mitchell Schools: Sandy, Utah
Nurtur Aveda Institutes: Columbus, Ohio

Excellence in Education honorees are leading the way in utilizing technology to teach.

Most notably, online curriculum issued on iPads make learning familiar and easy for a generation of students who have grown up with technology at their fingertips.

Owners are embracing other high-tech trends in equipment, apps and software as well. Students have come to expect cutting-edge technology in the classroom, and schools are continually stepping up to incorporate new trends, including paperless classrooms.

Worksheets and tests are simply airdropped to students’ iPads, evaluations are completed digitally, and everything is stored on cloud-based hard drives so students and instructors always have access.

Educators are also enjoying Apple TV in their classrooms. This tool gives them the ability to mirror a mobile device for the rest of the class to see so they can display student work, view videos, study for tests and more.

Online curriculum have been game-changers for instructors and students, and now schools are taking the next step and customizing curriculum.

Eric Fisher Academy in Wichita, Kansas, created Eric Fisher Academy Live with Pivot Point, customizing the Pivot Point LAB to blend its brand with curriculum. It includes e-books, videos, quizzes, activities and teacher resources.

“The customized curriculum we have created with Pivot Point has been a game-changer for us,” Owner Eric Fisher says. “Eric Fisher Academy Live provides our students with the education they need while combining the social interaction they want. The addition of Prosper U’s Drivers of Success program on the Live site has modernized the business program making it even more relevant to our students. And the proof is in the strong numbers we are consistently seeing from our clinic floor. The streamline of our curriculum and success with this new technology is proof of concept.”

Nurtur Aveda Institutes in Columbus, Ohio, are doing the same by blending the Learn Aveda curriculum with Pivot Point’s. Content is turn-key and user-friendly.

Curriculum isn’t the only thing getting the custom treatment. Schools are also customizing software programs.

At Avenue Five Institute in Austin, Texas, software was customized to work with the school’s phone system, Google calendars, SMS systems and e-mail campaign software. The school has also streamlined the application process.

“The commitment to pursue a new career in beauty and wellness shouldn't be restricted to business hours,” says Brandon Martin, Avenue Five founder and CEO. “Today’s student expects the convenience of online services, and Avenue Five Institute’s new online application has quickly become the preferred method for students to apply. And with many of our students relocating to Austin to attend school, we can now accept applications remotely from anywhere in the world.”

Nurtur Aveda Institute partnered with an outside vendor to create Studenttrackr, a proprietary system to locate graduates with whom they have lost contact. This partnership resulted in placing more than 85% of all graduates in 2015.

The days of generic websites are also long gone. Schools are customizing their sites to allow potential students to apply online, book admissions tours and take interactive career readiness quizzes. Clients can also book online and see photos and bios of team members.

Some schools, like Paul Mitchell the School, even have an intranet site where students can find how-to libraries, resources for creating resumes and more.

At Nurtur, proprietary contact management software for the call center allows the school to contact leads via text or e-mail instantly.

“The lead then receives a phone call within three minutes,” says Patrick Thompson, owner. “Currently this is available 60 hours/six days a week. The contact system is married to the call center, which helps prioritize a lead that’s just been submitted. We’re trying to get to leads as quickly as possible so they can begin their journey. Students can also engage in the process of checking out the school not just on a static website, but by talking to someone about it via e-mail, text or phone. They can also chat live on our website.

“It’s all about opening up that channel as soon as possible and getting the conversation started, which is why we invested in automation software.”

Online tools for students at Paul Mitchell Schools in Sandy, UT.
Online tools for students at Paul Mitchell Schools in Sandy, UT.

If there’s one area schools have made strides in technology this year, it’s apps. Owners are using everything from the Remind app, which facilitates communication between students and instructors, to the Klass app, which allows students to access curriculum, review their hours and much more.  

Paul Mitchell the School even has a cutting and color system on a proprietary interactive app for iPads. Students can type in answers, draw diagrams and e-mail work to instructors.

Avenue Five also has its own app where students can make online payments, electronic signatures can be processed, they can track their progress, communicate with staff, access training videos and more.

Schools are embracing social media and encouraging students to grow their business by posting openings, showcasing their work and using hashtags to gain a following.

Larger chains like Paul Mitchell Schools have created hashtags unique to their schools so students can see their peers’ work across the country.

“I’m not surprised our hashtag campaigns have made Paul Mitchell Schools a leader in social media among national beauty schools," says Winn Claybaugh, dean and co-founder of Paul Mitchell Schools. "When people see #pmts and #pmtslife attached to beautiful, brilliant, innovative haircuts, color, and make-up, their first reaction is usually, ‘I can’t believe a student did that!’ I love scrolling through the social sites and seeing their incredible talent.” 

Many of the photos posted on social media look professional due to LED halo ring lights owners are investing in. These lights make clients’ skin look luminescent and simple photos from a phone look professional.

For more info on Excellence in Education, visit modernsalon.com/excellence.

#LoveWhatYouDo 😊✂️🎨❤️ Happy Friday to all!

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