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Making the cut

Monday, November 09, 2009

Kim Melchor

Cosmetology program offers job skills, discounted salon service The ‘prettiest’ part of high school vocational programs is the opportunities they provide for students. In an economy where jobs are hard to come by, the Humble ISD cosmetology program is providing students with employment skills that they can use straight out of high school. Rather than spending time in elective or P.E. classes, cosmetology students spend three hours a day preparing for a state license. According to instructor Marla Ubernosky, students who complete certification generally average an income of $30,000 a year. “We have had students make up to $75,000 a year,” said Ubernosky. “You have to have a good personality.” Ubernosky has taught in Humble for 22 years. Co-instructor Teresa Hand is a new instructor, and a former Humble ISD cosmetology program graduate. The program is part of the vocational classes provided by the Career And Technology Education Center, or CATE. Classes are lively, and take place in a salon setting on the Humble High School campus. Upbeat music plays in the background, while black-smocked students cheerfully chat with clients as they complete their work. While the program obviously has a certain element of fun, Ubernosky says that the course can also be difficult. “You have to learn a lot about bacteria, bones, and skin.” She gives the example that, “For a manicure, you have to learn what the bones of the hand do.” Students must also learn about the interactions of chemicals, and the use of professional products. Additionally, students must maintain a ‘C’ average in all courses to stay in the program and to be eligible for the state examination. Students begin learning their trade by working with manikins, and with family members. “They can’t sue,” Ubernosky humorously explains. After a certain level of training is achieved, students are able to provide services to the public in the school salon. Rates are a bargain, and at less than $10 for each service, patrons can receive a hair cut, manicure, pedicure, facial, makeup application, or eyebrow wax. For $30 or less, clients can receive a perm, relaxer, color, or highlights. Ubernosky said that hygiene in the school’s salon is at a higher standard than in other shops. “State inspectors come more often, and check more things. We get inspected twice a year. A regular shop is only inspected every two years.” The salon has a fairly steady clientele. Some customers, such as those from local senior centers, have been known to arrive by the bus load. The salon also provided a special “Glamour Girl Party” for younger patrons. The special occasion parties for little girls offer red carpet treatment, shampoo/styles, manicures, facials, and on stage karaoke. Unique to the Humble ISD cosmetology program is their 100 percent pass rate on state examinations. CATE principal Thomas ‘Bodie’ Wagener said that the average passing rate for post high school students is only 50 percent. Wagener contributes student success to the effort required to complete the course. “It’s time and money invested,” said Wagener. Outside of the high school setting, certification in Texas requires a total of 1500 training hours. High school students are only required to complete 1000, hours, with credit applied for other academic classes. The program is available to all junior and senior students enrolled in Humble ISD. Although the course requires three class periods, students who commute from other high schools may be required to use up to four class periods in order to travel. Wagener said that those interested in the program must be “very diligent in planning in order to maximize credits.” To become accepted into any of the programs at CATE, students must complete an application and by cosmetology instructors. For more information on courses, students should contact their counselors. To schedule services, call (281) 641-6535. Photo: Jacarolyn Arceneau prepares for a career as a hairstylist by practicing on fellow student Adria Lewis. Photo by Kim Melchor

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