When students take Christina McCall’s Cosmetology class at DCMO BOCES in Norwich, NY, they learn that there is more to the beauty industry than cutting and styling hair. She wants them to know that Cosmetology is a holistic art, meant to bring out a client’s internal beauty, too.
But how do you teach humanism and compassion? As part of the curriculum, students read Life as a Daymaker and find ways to practice David Wagner’s advice in their school and community. What they have accomplished is inspirational and surprisingly easy.
Students are encouraged to start small. After reading and discussing selections from the book, they write about nice things that they have done for others and nice things that have been done for them. Many times, their examples seem simple—holding a door for someone, washing dishes for a sick parent, giving someone a cookie, but it’s clear that these actions make a lasting impact.
Students are then challenged to think of an activity that they can accomplish in five or ten minutes that will brighten someone’s day. One impromptu idea was to write positive statements on notebook paper, such as “Have a great day” and “Everyone is beautiful,” randomly posting them around the building. Several weeks later, some of those notes are still there!
Then they give themselves their own Daymaker Day by dressing up, doing one another’s hair and make-up, and celebrating the day by taking pictures. Ms. McCall says, “We begin this way because we need to feel good about ourselves on the inside and it will project on the outside.” When others in the building see the Cosmetology students in gowns and updos, they know something special is happening.
Once they’ve shared the Daymaking philosophy with their classmates and school, they reach out to the community. The Cosmetology students lend their skills and creativity to a number of worthwhile causes including Cerebral Palsy, PAL Center (Parents Always Learning) and church organizations for troubled youth. They also do hair and make-up for the Special Education prom held at BOCES in the spring. They donate hair to Locks of Love to be used in wigs for cancer patients and cut hair to raise money for St. Baldrick’s, a childhood cancer charity fund. They also treat residents from Springbrook, a facility for adults with disabilities, to a variety of services in the school’s salon. One Springbrook client said that coming to BOCES was fun because she gets to look good. The smiles are enough to see that this experience is beneficial to both students and clients.
The Cosmetology class is proof positive that vocational education is more than teaching job skills; it can also be about learning how to use your skills to change lives. Hopefully, students leaving the program will see themselves as professional Daymakers, no matter what career they pursue
Submitted by Elizabeth
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