Nurtur Aveda Institute's (Columbus, OH) 2017 Earth Jam fashion show.
Nurtur Aveda Institute's (Columbus, OH) 2017 Earth Jam fashion show.

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): 
State College of Beauty Culture, Wausau, Wisconsin
Advance Beauty College, Laguna Hills, California
Chain school: Nurtur Aveda Institutes, Columbus, Ohio

Engagement in their communities is an important core value to Excellence in Education honorees.

Participating in service projects, cut-a-thons, fashion shows and other initiatives isn’t an option for students; it’s a requirement. But it’s one they love to fulfill as owners strive to offer a variety of opportunities every month for students to choose from.

Educators are also committed to the community and can be found donating their time and skills alongside students at local events.

Fashion shows for charity are a popular way to raise funds in many communities, and school owners know they’re also a great way for students to gain experience and confidence. Often, schools host their own fashion shows for charity where students can be found back stage doing hair, makeup and manicures on models.

In addition to learning how to create runway looks, students are also networking with potential clients and meeting other business owners in their community.

Many schools also have programs to help local teens get ready for prom and give hair cuts to disadvantaged women in Dress for Success programs.

At State College of Beauty Culture in Wausau, Wisconsin, they’ve created a Hair Camp to help educate young girls about beauty and hygiene. Designed for girls in third through eighth grade, the hair camp teaches skills like blow-drying and nail care to help them understand basic hygiene and build self-confidence. The next level, College Camp, was created for high-school girls and focuses on beauty and wellness as a career.

“Hair Camp is such a fun week—there is so much energy in the school,” says Andi Burns, State College of Beauty Culture school administrator. “This week allows our students to teach elementary kids proper hair, skin and nail care in an atmosphere that is fun, silly and electric.”

All of these local events and programs allow students to flex their creative muscles, build relationships with clients and become more prominent in their communities.

Schools find many other ways to donate time and money to their communities. Two of the most popular charities in the industry are Cut it Out, a program to educate stylists on domestic violence, and breast cancer awareness. School regularly hold cut-a-thons and host fundraisers to raise awareness and money for these causes.

At Nurtur Aveda Institutes in Columbus, Ohio, students help choose a cause every month, and all tips are donated to that charity or cause.

“We look for something that will have a local impact,” says Patrick Thompson, Nurtur Aveda Institutes owner. “So if the cause is breast cancer, we choose a local breast-cancer charity. It’s all about students resonating with the cause. They are the ones performing the services and we want them to connect to the cause we select each month.”

Free or discounted hair cuts are offered at many schools to a variety of groups: the homeless, active and retired military people and teachers to name a few. One of the most popular events at schools across the country is back-to-school hair cuts for disadvantaged children.

Cosmetology students often visit assisted-living facilities to give cuts to senior citizens as well as help needy kids with free back-to-school hair cuts.

Advance Beauty College in Laguna Hills, California, has partnered with a local organization for beautiful results.

“One of our core missions is to give back to the communities in which we serve,” Demi Fuentes, project manager, says. “Partnering with a local grassroots organization like Yesenia Dream Dress Drive allows us to play a role in impacting the young women in our local communities. Our involvement not only helps to build their self worth, but also showcases the beauty industry as a viable career option. It is important to our organization that we invest in the future leaders of our industry and our business community.”

These are just a few of the recent trends in community involvement. Schools also donate goods and services to local auctions and raffles, and they take on causes important to specific individuals, whether it’s the owner, a student, an educator or a guest. These personal causes often generate the most buzz among the student body.

For more info on Excellence in Education, visit

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