When Leander High School’s cosmetology students finish the program, they are equipped with the exact criteria needed to pass the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation Cosmetology Operator Exam and begin their professional careers.

The cosmetology program gives students an edge in their professional careers. They have the benefit of small classes and a cost-effective alternative to post-secondary cosmetology education options. The intensive program requires students to log 1,000 contact hours under an instructor’s supervision, which the students obtain by attending the 6-hour class every other day.

Sheanna Dudley is in her first year as the class’s instructor

LHS cosmetology

“When they leave our doors, they have everything they need to get certified,” Dudley said.

In addition to the classroom work – tests, papers and reading material – students spend time getting hands-on skills in the salon. The students get “paid” for their work with imitation money. For a job well done, students receive the full amount. For a job that needs work, students have the opportunity to redo the assignment for half the price. And for students who do exceptional work, they have the opportunity to earn a tip.

The coursework includes practice in skills such as shampooing, haircutting, hair coloring and facials, but Dudley also teaches them the business aspect of cosmetology. The students learn team building with their peers and conflict resolution with their clients. Her senior-level students build a physical salon model from scratch for their final exam, complete with a floor plan, salon menu and a business plan with business cards and flyers.

In the salon at Leander HS, Dudley strives to give students a safe, fun place to grow as professionals and ultimately be prepared for the workplace.

“I believe in erasing fear,” Dudley said. “I’d rather them be fearful here. I call my class their playground. This is where they can make mistakes.”