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American Beauty Academy: Aspiring hairdressers perfect their craft

May 07, 2001|By ANTHONY LONGORIA, Staff Writer

BRAWLEY — For nearly two years the doors to the American Beauty Academy here have welcomed students aspiring to careers in the beauty industry and locals wanting the services of a full-service beauty salon at half the price.

The academy is at 558 Main St. in the heart of this city's downtown.

While it is a school, the deceptive interior of the academy's building looks more like a professional salon, save the classroom in the rear of the building where students meet for lectures on topics such as cytology (the study of cells) and myology (the study of muscles).

"A lot of people think that (students) just learn hair here," said Connie Soto, a Brawley native and the school's director of education who designed the curriculum students study.

Students attend classes from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, learn everything from styling to color theory and chemistry and receive monthly grades for their work and studies.


Each of the school's four instructors has been or is a professional stylist.

"Our main goal isn't just to graduate them, it's for them to become a successful stylist," Soto said.

To graduate, students must complete 1,600 hours of study. Upon graduation they may take the state exam to become a licensed cosmetologist.

Since opening on July 26, 1999, the school has graduated 34 students. Forty-five students are enrolled in the program.

The school enjoys a 98 percent passing rate for the state board exam, according to Jeannie Jongeward, the school's owner.

"Our goal is to have the school more like a salon than a school," Jongeward said. "We pride ourselves on having (students) salon-ready when they leave."

The school's salon is open to the public and offers various services such as facials, manicures, pedicures, massages and hairstyling.

The full-service salon allows students to get real world experience for their future careers, said Soto.

The salon offers instructor-supervised student work at reduced prices and is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.

Soto and Jongeward said they are both surprised and pleased at the popularity of the salon, especially on Saturdays, its busiest day.

In addition to the school's offerings, it provides free services for the community including haircuts for underprivileged families.

"We try to do our share of helping the community," Jongeward said.

The school coordinates a job-placement program and Soto said the school's graduates are in demand.

"Students develop a clientele at the salon that will follow them when they leave the school," Soto said.

According to U.S. Department of Labor statistics, the field of cosmetology will see continued growth through 2008, with an expected surge in demand for beauty services from teen-agers and aging baby boomers. Recent growth in the number of spa salons will create a demand for cosmetologists as well as manicurists. Nearly 1 million people are employed in the field of cosmetology.

The school is accredited by the state Bureau of Private Post-Secondary and Vocational Education. Tuition and materials for the program are $7,500 and new students are enrolled every Tuesday. For more information contact the school at 344-0445.

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