Walk through the front doors of The Salon Professional Academy in The Villages and the enthusiasm is immediately palpable. A group of stylish young students work busily at the chair stations. Others eagerly chat with their teacher in the Basics classroom, surrounded by mannequins with perfectly coiffed hair. The school is abuzz with creativity and excitement, and it’s contagious.
“This has been a lifelong dream,” says Cory Lindley, who is at the very end of the academy’s nine-month course. “I always knew I wanted to go into cosmetology, from the time I was three years old when I cut my own hair off. I moved here from North Carolina just to go to this school.”
“When I came up here and toured the school, I felt like I was at home,” adds student Erica Gonzalez. “I felt like I was back in New York in my aunt’s salon. There’s a wonderful vibe. You feel like you’re stepping into a whole new world.”
The Salon Professional Academy may be a thrilling place for students, but make no mistake—this Redken Fifth Avenue-endorsed academy is first and foremost a cosmetology school and one of the best in the country. The coursework is rigorous, with students in class for 35 hours per week for a total of 1,200 clock hours of instruction in nine months. They spend their first five weeks with educator Janice Case, a 30-year veteran of the industry, learning the basics of hair cutting and styling on mannequins. Then it’s on to the student service floor, where they apply what they learned in the Basics classroom on actual clients.
“The academics here are very structured and very good for teaching and learning,” Janice explains. “The students know exactly what they’re going to be doing each day, and the education level just grows. In nine months, they are salon-ready.”
Currently, the school has 120 students. Every five weeks, it welcomes between 20 and 25 more. Earlier this year, the academy achieved a major milestone when it was approved as a Title IV school, which means its students can apply for federal student loan money and grants. The nationally accredited school is also licensed by the Florida Department of Independent Education. The instructors and students make excellent use of the facility’s 10,000 square feet, complete with five classrooms, 50 styling stations, eight pedicure and manicure stations, a color bar and a sound-proof aesthetic room. When they graduate, students are well-rounded and well-prepared to enter the cosmetology industry.
“The educators teach us the utmost professionalism,” says Cory. “We are expected to be here 15 minutes before our time, in dress code, makeup and hair. That’s what you need to have when you go out into the real world. They do not accept mediocrity here. You have to really push yourself.”
Students are expected to master The Power Wheel, the five elements of a successful client/stylist relationship—the greeting, the consultation, the workshop, the close and the follow-up. In fact, business acumen is a crucial aspect to the educational experience here.
“Students develop their business skills,” says Joseph Guinto, academic superintendent. “They learn how to gain referrals and repeat customers, how to recommend and offer services and retail products that benefit their clients.
If, in addition to business instruction and professional training, one of the most important qualities to ensure success in cosmetology is enthusiasm, the future looks bright for the students at The Salon Professional Academy. They have it in spades.
“They are passionate to join this industry,” agrees Owner Janet West. “We have many who are secondary career students, and they are as excited about this industry as someone who’s fresh out of high school. Being around this energy all day is very exciting.”
If you or someone you know is interested in the beauty and fashion industry, call (352) 753-5511 and book your tour of the academy today!
11915 CR 103, The Villages
Admissions: (352) 753-5511
Appointments: (352) 259-6717