Career and Technical Education opportunities at the high school level are meant to open doors for a student’s future, giving them necessary training and experience that can be used to either fuel a passion or meet a future need in a career of their choice. For MISD Cosmetology students, the training and experience is providing both – allowing these students to learn a lifelong skill that can provide a career opportunity immediately following graduation.
Montgomery HS junior, Emily Miranda, began her CTE pathway in ROTC and really didn’t feel like that was the place for her to find success. When she heard that MISD was opening a Cosmetology program, she realized an opportunity was in front of her that she couldn’t resist.
“When I learned that I’d be able to use my time in high school to get my license, I knew it would give me a foot to stand on when I go to college,” Emily said. “I want to go to school for Criminal Justice, but I will need this side hustle to help me pay for school.”
Though all students in the Cosmetology program will learn skills including hair, skincare, makeup, nails and barber training, each student is finding that they are interested in focusing on one area that they can challenge themselves in through competition.
“My focus is on barber – learning flat tops, fading, shaving and doing boy haircuts.” Emily said. “But my favorite thing I’ve learned that I never thought I’d be able to do is nails. Learning acrylics was super cool and easier than I thought it would be.”
Rylee Wolfley is a junior at Lake Creek HS and spends her first three periods of each day in the MICA classroom and studios. She has always known that she wanted to do hair and after starting to ask her counselors in 8th grade what she could do to be in cosmetology in high school, she was so excited to learn that the district was opening a cosmetology program just in time for her to participate. Without a pathway for the program yet, Rylee began by taking Principles of Human Services and then a Hospitality class to gain the customer service part of owning her own business. Rylee has grown up watching her aunt do hair, running her own salon, and says she has always wanted to do the same.
“This has always been my dream,” Rylee said. “I plan to start working right out of high school to support myself, but I really just feel like cosmetology is a life-long skill that will allow me to be a stay-at-home-mom and also have a way to support and serve my family one day.”
Rylee is focusing on the cosmetology skills of haircuts and styling and says she really enjoys doing updos and testing her creative skills in that way.
The cosmetology students have monthly opportunities to participate in salon nights, in which they open the salon to family and friends that schedule appointments for anything from an eyebrow wax to a hair style or manicure. The students really appreciate and enjoy the opportunity to gain experience.
“Oh, salon nights are just so fun!” Rylee said. “When I had a five-year-old come in that had never gotten her haircut before, I got to help her enjoy the experience and her face just lit up when I turned her around to show her. I was just so happy to get to make her happy!”
Montgomery HS junior, Kloye Morgan, began her high school studies on the medical pathway, believing she would study to be a plastic surgeon. Having always had an interest in beauty and self-care, Kloye thought that might be the best idea.
“When cosmetology became available I changed my pathway because I thought it was a great opportunity to be able to learn and work right out of high school,” Kloye said. “But I want to use my job to make money and pay for a degree in business, so one day I can open my own salon. I’ve fallen in love with doing nails!”
Kloye enjoys salon night and the way it feels like she’s already in her career. She enjoys growing relationships with students that she is with for three periods each day and says that they’re all becoming such great friends.
“I love Ms. Moyers!” Kloye said. “She’s a great teacher and she really cares about teaching us the right way to do things so we can be successful!”
The MISD Cosmetology instructor, Mrs. Moyers, also got her cosmetology license in high school and started working at the age of 18. She then transitioned to teaching for beauty school companies and moved to the college level in 2003, opening the program at Navarro Junior College.
“I teach this high school course just like my college program,” Moyers said. “It’s the same license and I have them start cutting hair on mannequins the second week of school.”
Mrs. Moyer has planned the salon nights to give students the opportunity to not only test their skills and put what they’ve learned into practice, but also to overcome the nerves of having real clients. The money raised from these nights is used to purchase additional supplies and mannequins and support the needs of the program.
“It’s like you’re actually doing a job and there’s all these people here so it can be stressful,” Emily said. “But it’s a great learning opportunity and we get to put our skills to the test.”
Another Montgomery HS junior, Merlot Martin, has found a passion for skincare through her time in the Cosmetology pathway. Having no idea what she wanted to do when she grew up, thinking maybe she’d be a nurse or teacher, Merlot started her high school in the human services pathway. Then she got her first facial and loved it so much she wanted to explore a career as an esthetician.
“I’ll be able to do anything in cosmetology with the license I receive,” Merlot said. “But I’m focusing on skincare and makeup and I want to be an esthetician. I find things like pimple popping so satisfying and I think it’s great that I can start a career right after high school doing something I really enjoy!”
Starting high school in the human services pathway had Merlot taking a few health classes, in which she earned her CPR certification. Though all of her elective time now goes to Cosmetology, she is thankful for the CTE pathway opportunities that have prepared her for taking care of clients and having her own esthetic spa one day.
“When I first went into this, I thought I knew a lot about hair and makeup,” Merlot said. “If you want to do hair or nails and makeup, Ms. Moyers gets stuff done and is making sure that we really know what we’re doing. The time she spends with each of us is building our confidence and helping us see a future from this work.”
Students working for their cosmetology license are attending a skills contest in Galveston on Friday, February 17. This will be the first time that MISD has sent students to a cosmetology competition and each student has selected a category in which to compete. They will each have three timed rounds of skills on models and will be scored for their creativity and execution of skills.
Emily will be competing in barber skills and Rylee will be doing cosmetology, including both a long and short haircut, as well as a fantasy hairstyle. Kloye will be doing three levels of nail skills including acrylics, gel and nail art, and Merlot will be doing esthetics which will include a facial, daily makeup and then an elaborate fantasy face creation.
“These girls are better than any college level class I’ve ever had!” Moyers said. “They catch on so quickly and they are passionate about what they’re doing!”
The MISD Cosmetology program is an opportunity for students at both Lake Creek and Montgomery HS. Though it is currently housed at the Montgomery HS East Campus, the program will be centralized at the new Career and Technical Education Center that was approved by voters in the May 2022 bond.