HAVERHILL — Students in Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School’s cosmetology program will be learning new skills and techniques they can then offer to customers of the school’s salon.
Whittier Tech has been updating its cosmetology program to reflect a more current industry approach following changes to the state’s curriculum. The framework provides expectations for what students should know and be able to do at the end of each year.
One of the changes involved technical knowledge that addresses the need for students to know how to cut, style and use products on all types of hair. In response to the change, the school purchased a dozen mannequin heads with various hair textures so that students can learn new techniques. Before, students were practicing only on mannequins with straight, fine hair, school officials said.
The shop plans to order additional supplies to align with the updated curriculum frameworks.
Students who work in the school’s Cosmetology Salon will be learning and applying new skills and techniques to members of the public who come for styling Students earn hours toward their cosmetology license by practicing in the salon, which offers a variety of beauty services to the public including hairstyling, haircutting, hair coloring, nail care and more. All services are performed by senior students hoping to earn their Massachusetts Cosmetology Licensure by graduation.
The salon was closed for many months because of the COVID-19 pandemic, officials said. It reopened in September then closed again in December due to an uptick in COVID-19 cases. An announcement will be made as to when it will reopen.
“We cannot wait to reopen the salon once we are able to do so safely,” said Cosmetology Instructor Nancy Calverley, who supervises the salon. “We hope to have two to three clients a day, ultimately we’d like 10 clients a week. The client’s job is to relax, ours is to do the work.”
A roll out of the full changes to the curriculum will begin in the fall for sophomores and juniors. It is expected to take about a year for stylists to be ready to perform new services, officials said.
The state is offering teacher trainings, like the one cosmetology instructor Nella Haginicolas attended to learn new wet and dry techniques for all types of hair, which will be taught to students, as well as the use of new products used in hair styling. Students will also be taught hair relaxing and smoothing services.
“I learned different techniques that I wasn’t experienced with,” said Haginicolas, who was taught how to train students with these new skills.
“I really liked the multi-disciplinary projects that we developed,” said Monica Marino, an english instructor who worked with the Massachusetts Association of Vocational Administrators to find ways to connect English to cosmetology through projects such as creating brochures. “The cosmetology teachers wrote all the project directions and then my job was to determine the adequate level of English and writing skills high school students should have.”
Reflecting on her time in the salon, senior Ana Barrera of Haverhill said she’s worked with seven or eight clients so far.
“Every week I try to work with one or two more clients,” Barrera said. “My goal after graduation is to be licensed and work in a salon while attending college for business to one day own my own salon.”
Marie Ciaramitas of Haverhill said she keep coming back to the school’s salon because she loves the convenience as well as the experience for students.
“I’ve been a client at the Whittier Tech Salon since 1985 and I trust that the instructors will check the work and make sure that I walk out feeling and looking my best,” Ciaramitas said.
Whittier Tech’s Cosmetology Salon normally operates on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to noon. The salon offers services at a low cost, due to it being a learning environment. Those interested in making an appointment are encouraged to keep an eye out for an announcement about reopening. When the salon reopens, community members will be able to make an appointment by calling 978-373-4101, ext. 348, or by emailing email@example.com.