East Rutherford opens manicuring lab
“The thing that is rewarding is seeing the kids as they learn skills they can put directly into the workforce. It’s applicable for the future and is based on something they are interested in and really enjoy,” Brad Teague, principal at East Rutherford High School said.
Teague is referring to the school’s new manicuring lab, which opened this year in conjunction with Rutherford County Schools (RCS) and Isothermal Community College (ICC). Through the program, high school students can take part in the college manicuring program right in high school.
“In Rutherford County we see a need that kids are looking for skills,” Teague said. “We are preparing them for college and for the workforce. We want them to have the skills to make them successful in whatever they choose.”
The manicuring curriculum is a certificate program that allows students to complete the required 300 hours of class and services to sit for the North Carolina Cosmetic Art board exam to become a licensed manicurist. Once they are licensed they can begin practicing their skill in any nail salon.
The lab was paid for through a North Carolina Investing in Rural Innovative Schools (NC iRIS) grant.
“We chose to go ahead with the lab based on student interest. We gave them several options of classes and this one had the most response,” Teague said. “Based on interest, I only see it growing from here.”
According to Amber Thompson, dean of applied sciences and technology at ICC, the East Rutherford students who take the class are getting high school and college credit. Once they have completed the class, the student will receive their manicuring certification and can walk in graduation at ICC if they are 18.
“We can’t award a certificate to a student until they turn 18. But if they finish the coursework and sit for the state exam, then when they turn 18 they can be awarded the certificate through ICC,” Thompson said. “But they can be practicing their skill through that. They don’t need a certificate from us to practice if they are licensed through the state.”
There are 10 high school girls in the pilot class of the program this semester. The class is open to any high school student in the RCS system and the instructor is Karol Wilson, who has been teaching manicuring for five years.
“I love working with the high school students. The younger they are, the quicker they learn and they remember things better,” Wilson said.
Along with how to perform manicures and pedicures, the students are also learning theory.
“They have a book full of theory. Along with the hands-on learning, they will be going through some anatomy, ecology, business basics and chemistry,” Wilson said. “They have a lot of terminology and things they have to remember.”
The book and some supplies are provided for the students through the grant, but they are required to buy their own uniforms and some extra supplies if needed. The class takes up two elective periods.
“I’m really interested in nail art and art design,” said Olivia Elleby, one of the girls taking the class. “I want people to see my work. This is something they can say that I did for them.”
Many of the girls are taking the class to develop a skill they can use to make money in the future. Some said it was something they could do part-time while attending college or a skill they can fall back on if other careers don’t work out right away.
“This is going to be my back-up plan,” said Claudia Reyes. “I speak English and Spanish and I know many people that are looking for someone good to do their nails. This is something I could easily make money doing.”
The East Rutherford lab is also now the home of ICC’s adult manicuring class. Wilson teaches the high school students during the day and the adult class in the evenings.
“We like having the manicuring classes at East because it provides more room to grow in cosmetology here on campus,” Thompson said.
The lab will soon be open to anyone in the public who wants to get a manicure or pedicure. Wilson estimates that it will be open in early October. The hours will be noon through 7 p.m.
“The message for our lab is come one, come all,” Elleby said.
The money made from the services will go to buying for supplies for the classes.
Teague said he is hoping to add more classes where students can become certified in a trade to the East Rutherford schedule in the future.
“With the push with technology, I see that being something in the future because it’s such a growing field,” Teague said. “I would love to see us get some type of computer repair or software design class so the kids can get certified in that type of role.”
If any adult is interested in taking the manicuring class, they can register at ICC. Students can register through their school.