Dear Cosmetology Teacher: Students Share Their Love for the Teachers Who Made a Difference
The 19th annual SUPERSUNDAY was hosted by Supercuts of Los Angeles on November 12, 2017 at the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel and Spa in Newport Beach, CA. SUPERSUNDAY is a day and evening of multiple events, dedicated to bringing education to cosmetology instructors during the day with Pivot Point. The day culminates in a Gala Awards Dinner that honors outstanding teachers, as well as cosmetology students and their schools
Supercuts’ Gala Awards Dinner began with the coveted 2017 “Ultimate Teacher Awards”, a prestigious annual occasion when cosmetology instructors in the greater Los Angeles market are recognized and honored for ‘making a real difference’ in the lives of their students. What makes the occasion even more meaningful and memorable is that the teachers are nominated for awards by their former students who have gone on in their careers to become successful Supercuts stylists.
Each nominating stylist wrote and read a heartfelt letter of tribute to their teacher and we share those letters here:
Nick Rodriguez (right), Riverside Community College, and his nominating stylist, Stevi Zarate of Riverside Supercuts.
"My name is Stevi and I am from a small town in California called Blythe. Most people do not even know where it is located, but my hometown is pretty much in the middle of no-where. There isn’t much in Blythe, no mall, no movie theater, and there definitely is not a cosmetology school. During high school, I knew that my passion and dreams were to be a cosmetologist. So, what did I do, I packed up and left my small town, moved to Riverside to pursue my dreams.
When I was 16 years old my mother passed away and funerals are not cheap. My dad gave me a portion of her life insurance to make my dreams come true. I considered lots of cosmetology schools, Riverside Community College cosmetology program was the route I needed to take to be able to put myself thru school. I applied and was accepted, I started school the following March.
My first day of cosmetology school is when I met Mr. Nick. I had no idea how important he was going to be to my schooling. I could say lots of great things about Mr. Nick, he was an amazing teacher and made learning fun. I will never forget the day we started to learn finger waves and pin curls. We were all so frustrated that he had us all go outside, throw our doll heads on the ground, and kick them to get our frustrations out. He had lots of catch phrases, I still hear his voice pop into my head today. But these things aren’t what made Mr. Nick so impactful to my life. He did something even greater for me that made my cosmetology schooling possible.
About 20 weeks into school, I broke my foot. I had a cast and crutches. I was devastated, I thought I was going to have to take a break from school since I was not even able to walk. The only problem was, I could not afford to stop. At that time, my dad was just laid off from his job and was unable to help me financially. I had just enough money saved up from my mom’s life insurance to pay rent each month during the one-year program that RCC has set up. I had to finish school within that year and then start my career.
The day after I broke my foot I missed school but went in towards the end of the day hoping to beg Mr. Nick, who was my teacher at that time to let me stay in class even with the crutches and cast. My dad and I met with him and explained our situation. Mr. Nick was very sympathetic. He wanted to do anything possible to help me stay in school and finish on time. Having a cast posed a problem though. As most of you familiar with cosmetology school know, there are certain rules we all must follow. Having shoes that are non-porous is a requirement and is not optional. Well, a cast is very porous and left my toes exposed. Mr. Nick came up with the idea to put a shoe over the cast. It seemed crazy but it worked! I went to payless and bought a man’s size 16 shoe and I wore it over my cast so that technically I was following the rule. It looked silly but at this point I didn’t care.
My dad drove me to school daily and met with Mr. Nick to see what tools I needed for the day. He allowed other students in my class to help me carry my things in each day since I could not carry much with my crutches. Sometimes He would even help me carry my things. Mr. Nick allowed me to take an extra break here or there when the pain was getting to be too much for me. He even arranged our seating chart so that I did not have anyone sitting next to me so that I was able to keep my broken foot on the table to elevate. He made it as easy as possible on me without bending any of the rules too much to accommodate me. Because of Mr. Nick, I finished cosmetology school on time without taking a break. He went the extra mile for me, even though he did not have to. Who knows where I would have been without his helpfulness and compassion. Would I have ever finished cosmetology school…I don’t know! I am thankful that I did not have to find out!
Thank you, Stevi Zarate"
Janice (Janny) M. Perondi, Woodruff Regional Occupational Center, Stockton, CA and her nominating stylist, Lilah Larkin of the Regis Corporation
"I am nominating my instructor Janny Perondi for the Ultimate Teacher Award. I started cosmetology in 1979 as a high school student that was trying to just graduate after having a really self-destructive Junior year. I was behind in credits and this course was the ﬁrst thing that I felt would be productive and help me in my cause to catch up.
In my senior year I spend half of my day at a continuation school, and the other half driving the opposite direction to attend cosmetology school. I was exhausted and didn't really focus. I just tried to get thru each day, get my credits, and passing grades.
When I think back, I realized that I was just a kid with an attitude and was not very nice to Ms. Perondi. She was just doing her job and teaching us what we needed to know to get our cosmetology license.
I returned the following year, this time as a full-time student. Towards the end of my required hours needed, I got married and pregnant. Due to medical issues, I had to stop attending school. Again- I returned about a year later. By then I had grown up a lot, and thought about my entire process and felt there was no way I could complete the course and pass state board.
I now had a "grown up" conversation with Ms. Perondi. I could not believe all the good things she had to say about me. She totally believed in me when I did not believe in myself. She convinced me to continue with the promise to work with me on whatever I needed. I remember her staying late, working with me one-on-one and giving me additional hours of support. She was so nice and very helpful. I remember having such guilty feelings about this. I did not deserve to be treated so well.
Ms. Perondi taught me some very valuable lessons in life that I will never forget. She helped me to realize that just because we may make some bad choices, it doesn't mean that you are a bad person and are not deserving of getting the very best out of life. I will never forget the way she made me feel. It changed my life forever. After 34 years, I ﬁnally get to say, "thank you".
Lastly, I want to thank all those instructors out there that may not know the impact that they have made in someone's life. I can tell you now…you have!
Thank you, Lilah Larkin"
Mora Carter, Marinello Schools of Beauty and her nominating stylist, Simona Lutz of Lake Forest Supercuts
"Let me start by taking you back to the beginning, at least the beginning of beauty school. I started beauty school at Marinello Schools of Beauty in Lake Forest and I can vividly remember the first time I saw Miss Mora. She was doing my orientation for beauty school and I remember thinking that she is exactly what I envisioned a hairstylist to be and I wanted to be just like her. In that moment I knew I was in the right place and this was what I was meant to do with my life.
Fast forward a few months into my being a part-time night student, with a different instructor. Things started to get difficult in my personal and work life. I was forced to stop attending school. However, Miss Mora talked to me and she told me to look outside the box and that the things that matter won’t be easy, but they will be the most rewarding. She told me to do what I needed to do but she really wanted me to continue and finish beauty school. She saw something special in me and knew I would be able to do great things in my career and she didn’t want to see my talent go to waste. Within a few weeks I was back in school, full time as a day student with Miss Mora as my instructor. And looking back now, I know that was the best decision I have ever made. Cosmetology always came easy to me, it just made sense, and I never had to work too hard to be good at it. But, I wanted to be great at it. And Miss Mora was always there next to me pushing me to be the best.
When things got hard at home or in my personal life Miss Mora was always there to listen or give advice to just sympathize. And it wasn’t just with me, she was there for all of her students. She did everything and gave her all for every single one. The students who needed tough love or the extra push, she was there to give them that extra shove in the right direction. Miss Mora quickly became more than just my instructor, she became my mentor. And I know there are several other students of hers that feel the same way. She was always patient and made learning fun and exciting. She knows how to relate the world of cosmetology to the real world. She never made us feel like anything less than the absolute best.
Today I can say I am great at my job. She nurtured my gift and helped me be well rounded and never be afraid. And, it is because she took a chance on me, and believed I could do this even when I didn’t. She never let me quit, or even fall short of my potential to be great. She still doesn’t to this day. I am proud to call her a friend and still a very big influence in my life. I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am today if it wasn’t for this amazing lady, Mora Carter.
Lori Hames, Riverside Community College and her nominating stylist, Aja Maneggio of Moreno Valley Supercuts
"Dear Mrs. Hames,
The reason for this letter is because during my time at RCC, you made such an impact on me that I wanted to nominate you for the Supercuts 2017 Ultimate Teacher Award!
As you know my Cosmo school experience was definitely rocky, to say the least. The second I saw you strolling through the halls during my first week of B, I was intimidated but I knew you were going to be my favorite teacher. You were tough on us. We didn’t like your rules. You were strict and adamant about the school’s rules and you did not hesitate to send someone home if they showed signs of not wanting to be in class. You were not going to let anyone waste your time or ours. You expected more out of us than most teachers I’ve had in my entire school career. But, what most people missed out on and overlooked was how pure her heart is. You are so spunky, and you live life so unapologetically and I admire that so much. Right was always right and wrong was always wrong with you. There was no in between.
Although you intimidated me more than my mom sometimes, you showed nothing but love and support. You had passion and drive, and it was contagious to those around you. Not only did you share your knowledge in the classroom, but you also shared life knowledge. I am 1000% sure that if we had not crossed paths I would not be who I am today, as a person and as a stylist. During my time in beauty school, life hit me multiple times. It got to the point that I almost gave up on my career because I was so tired of the hiccups and the setbacks. I just did not think I could do it but you ALWAYS cheered me on. You always showed me the bright side of things.
I had my heart broken, my dad almost died, my two-year-old God daughter did die, and my mother also almost died, all in a matter of five weeks. And, in the middle of all that, without knowing anything until a couple of months later, you inspired me to get back in school and follow my dreams. You inspired me to stay in school regardless of how hard it was for me. You re-lit that fire inside of me that was almost burnt out. You were the mother I needed at that time and words cannot express how grateful I am that the universe put us together at that time.
Because of your impact, I am not only an awesome cosmetologist, but I know how to direct my team and others in the right direction and inspire them the way you did me.