Excellence in Education 2017: Best Practices from Community Involvement Top Honorees

by Laurel Nelson | December 5, 2017
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

TRENDING: The French Bob


TRENDING: The French Bob

by Anne Moratto

Leave it to the French to inspire a haircut so chic, it’s truly timeless. It’s a look that never goes away and when you see it, you know it. And lately, we’ve been seeing it everywhere.

Find out why over 400,000 subscribers love our newsletters

Putting the Salon Professional First

Putting the Salon Professional First

by Staff

A new salon education and salon benefits program makes it easy for salon stylists and estheticians to grow their business rapidly and in the direction they want to take it. They get the perceived benefits of booth rental or owning their own salon, but without the hassle or overhead. Benefits include ability to earn up to 70% commission right away, generous health insurance, paid vacation and sick time, and even paid education. Grow your salon career now with a salon company that puts you first!

How Small Add-Ons Add Up To Big Money For You

by Staff

Would you like fries and a drink with that? Burgers pay the bills, but it’s the add-ons that build the bottom line. That’s true for every service business, whether you’re offering Big Macs, hotel suites or hairstyles.


In our video section, watch salon professionals in action, listen to the advice of salon business experts, and tour inside the world’s top salons.

10 Reasons to Make a Smart Salon Career Move

10 Reasons to Make a Smart Salon Career Move

by Staff

Job benefits, career growth, flexibility, up to 70% commission and customized hands-on classes in hair color, blow dry, extensions, hair styling, texture, skin care, business building, consultation and more—explore all the reasons stylists and estheticians are switching to the Salon at Ulta Beauty.

Waxing, shaving, facials and beard grooming can all expand men’s services beyond the standard...

10 Tips For Elevating Your Men’s Business

by Staff

Many stylists have discovered men can be lucrative and loyal additions to their clientele. Want to build up the men’s business in your salon? Here are 10 tips from four men’s service and product pros.

Can You Specialize As A Solo Artist?

by Staff

You love balayage and braiding, but men’s haircutting? Not so much. Yet as a solo artist, you worry that limiting your services to just those you prefer doing could be a mistake. Are those worries founded or unfounded? Can you specialize as a solo artist? Many top solo artists believe you can.

Load More