STAUNTON, Va. (AP) - Megan Gray recalls, as a child, watching her mother tend to people’s hair - and to the atmosphere around it.
“I would always go to the salon, watch her, watch everyone else and get my hair shampooed,” said Gray, 21, of Stuarts Draft. “I loved the environment and the way that my mom would make people feel. They would walk out happy.”
She recalls the work space inhabited by her mother - now retired - as nurturing.
“She wanted to make her clients feel beautiful,” she said, “whether they had a bad day or if they were just feeling down. She would always brighten them, make them feel good.”
Now, Gray is working to earn a diploma at the Staunton School of Cosmetology. That will enable her to take state board exams to obtain her license to practice as a hair stylist.
Gray liked studying anatomy in high school, and the lessons sometimes still move through her mind as she styles someone’s hair. She’s conscious of parts of the head as she works - the temple bones, for instance, as she’s crafting a particularly precise cut.
Gray also thinks about hair when she’s outside of school.
“I look at people’s hair when I’m out and I think, ‘What would it look like?’ or ‘How would I cut that?’” she said.
Gray said she knows the sprawling colors of today’s styles weren’t as frequent when her mother was cutting hair. It’s an outlet for creativity that Gail Lyle, director of admissions at the school, has also noticed.
“They (the students) get to be more artistic with colors,” she said.
Gray, like other students at the school, is required to complete the state-mandated 1,500 hours of training to become eligible to take the state board examination.
“During that 1,500 hours they have performances and theory testing,” said Linda Ingram, director of education at the school.
Ingram, who’s been the director of education at the school for about 20 years, said students acquire practical experience with clientele who come to the school to have their hair done.
“We start them out on mannequins and work them to live models when they’re ready,” she said.
Lyle said most of the students tend to come to the school soon after they finish high school. She noted, too, that some are thinking about what they may do later in their careers.
“A lot of them have the goal to own their own business,” she said.
Lyle said about 20 students are enrolled right now.
The Staunton School Of Cosmetology, founded in 1956 by Boyd and Rose Thompson, is one of 215 state-licensed cosmetology schools in the state.
Sophia Nunez, a hair stylist who works at Bonitas Salon in downtown Staunton, noted that the presence of a cosmetology school nearby can provide a good source of new stylists for local salons to hire.
“It’s very important as a professional hair salon to have that option,” she said.
Information from: The News Leader, https://www.newsleader.com
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