The cosmetology program at Temple High School does more than teach students about the fundamentals of cutting hair, painting nails and doing makeup.
It teaches them how to be artists.
On Wednesday, Commissioner Helen Callier with the Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation met with junior cosmetology students about the impact that mindset can have on their community as licensed professionals.
“Having folks feel gorgeous and beautiful … makes a difference so be proud of that,” she told students. “When (my hairstylist) turned 72, she decided to retire. But there was a connection there so strong that as I lived in other places — like Los Angeles, Kansas City and Puerto Rico — that I would come home for this lady to do my hair. That’s why I asked the question, ‘How many do you love doing hair?’ Because you play a key role in a profession where you can create the kind of lifestyle that you want to have.”
With the population in Bell County ever increasing, Callier encouraged the Temple High School students to begin having a business-minded approach to cosmetology.
“When Meta comes in (to Temple), there’s going to be other folks that come along with it,” she said. “That’s a lot of money that’s coming in and a good opportunity for you to look at starting businesses.”
Zion Williams, 17, and Tiana Johnson, 17, already possess that mindset.
“When I was little, my brother, who used to be a barber, would always cut my hair,” Williams told the Telegram. “So, you know, he inspired me to do it myself and once I started doing it I really liked it. Now I really want to have a business doing it too.”
Johnson also has a business idea of his own.
“I want to create a one-stop shop where you can get makeup, nails and hair done all in one store … so that they don’t have to go from place to place,” she said. “I think that’d be really good for weddings and proms.”
Melissa Coppage, a Career and Technical Education instructor at Temple High School, hopes all of her students take Callier’s advice into account.
“I hope that it really encouraged them to stay strong, because I know that sometimes they may not see the big picture at the end — to become licensed,” she said. “They can have an immediate impact on the community … so I hope that they want to go ahead and continue with the program.”
Coppage, who joined the Temple High School staff last year, noted how her entry into the world of cosmetology, like many across Texas, began while she was enrolled in high school.
“I did it at the Killeen Career Center. I got my license right out of high school and have been doing this for over 30 years,” she said. “So I know exactly what (my students) are going through.”
At Temple High School, related certification testing for the campus’ CTE programs are supported by the district, according to Temple ISD.
“I think part of the reason we had success is because of the funds that have been put in place to really support the students in earning those certifications,” CTE Director Denise Ayres said in 2020. “The students have the ability to test without that full expense falling on their shoulders.”
Coppage stressed how those certifications are becoming more valuable, as there is a growing demand for workforce-ready individuals.
“I do feel like there has been a shift in trade schools in general. Before, if you didn’t go to college, then you weren’t successful. But trade schools have really been on the upswing,” she said. “They’re fast and you can start working immediately to make money.”