When Waxahachie High School cosmetology instructor Debbie Gauntt experienced the new department, her first thought was, “Oh my goodness." She had not anticipated that her students would soon have that much space in which to learn, grow and hone their skills.

The newly constructed area in the Billy Bates Career Technology Education wing is equipped with a variety of spaces to mimic a state-of-the-art salon with manicure and pedicure stations, two rows of salon chairs, a vast shampoo area, two classrooms, an additional service room and a dedicated washroom.

The department is also set up with a receptionist area where guests can check-in and wait for their services. Products will also be sold at the counter.

The cosmetology department will offer a full menu of services at a discounted price — from waxing to coloring and everything in between. In the past, a beauty night was hosted once a month. This year, a more elaborate schedule will be established.

“Because we are raising the standards of how the students will work here and the facility they are working in, I’m hoping it brings them to a different level of how they are working. Now it’s going to be more professional,” Gaunt explained.

A total of 28 salon chairs line each side of the central section, all and perfect for facials. A vital aspect cosmetology instructor Renetta Key pointed out was the sunlight that enters from the windows.

“Natural light is important in hair color. Like right now, you can really see it coming in, and that will help. Before we had florescent,” Key relayed.

With a significant increase in the number of multifunctional salon chairs, the workstations are noticeably larger and provide more storage. Another addition is an ADA salon station.

A vent system was also installed to eliminate fumes from coloring chemicals.

The Waxahachie cosmetology department is a CHI partnered school, which means the products will be stocked at each station and the students will use CHI salon tools on customers. The students also work on CHI head mannequins.

Another substantial addition is manicure and pedicure stations. Toward the front of the department are five manicure stations equipped with vents to relieve smelly fumes. And, four, massage-capable pedicure stations line the wall.

The curriculum will not change much but, “We will probably incorporate some things in the pedicuring that we didn’t offer before because we will have the ability to do so,” Gauntt explained.

At the former campus, students used equipment required by the state program. Instead of practicing with portable manicure bowls and a few salon chairs, space is designated for each specialty at the new facility. The cosmetology students will be instructed in a professional setting that replicates an upscale salon.

“This is really more salon friendly. I hope when the students come in that they will feel they’re really practicing the art,” Key elaborated. “We had stations before that were carousels before, and the way they were set up is that the kids were working around them. Yeah, even though everything was mirrored in a lab, you wouldn’t be able to see the student on the other side.”

Now there is complete visibility of the students in every salon station. “You can address the class in this lab and see everybody’s face,” Key elaborated. The classrooms even have windows that look into the shampoo area.

The instructors, who have worked together for more than 20 years, agreed the upscale facility is a motivator for them and hopes it will inspire the students as well.

Gauntt added, “I think it’s going to be a positive impact and going to make a difference for the future. I think it’s going to bring a new face to CTE."

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Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450