TSPA Buffalo’s Salon Culture

Below is a submission that our team put together for the Modern Salon Magazine. Our team goes above and beyond the call of duty to make our student experience inside and outside the academy amazing, and this essay describes just that! ❤️

TSPA Buffalo Students with Ms. Ali!

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TSPA Buffalo’s Modern Magazine Submission

How do you pinpoint the impact one person can have on another’s life?  It can be best described as a tiny seed.  This seed of course has to be watered and sowed to get promising results.  Your seed can either wither and die or blossom into a beautiful flower.  At The Salon Professional Academy of Buffalo we are dedicated to planting and growing beautiful flowers.  Our academy does so many great things daily that it is hard to limit them to just a few examples.

We begin as our head educator reminds everyone the first day of class that we have an “open door policy” at TSPA Buffalo.  From day one we strive to let our students know we are here for them no matter the situation.  Life goes on outside the academy and our students are normally with us more than their family and friends.  We encourage them to come to us for help with whatever they are dealing with.  We embrace the fact that we have the ability to guide these students in the right direction and truly care for them.  Our academy is the start of many of these student’s careers and the building blocks for a bright future in the beauty industry.  We are dedicated to helping these students face their struggles and overcome their personal challenges.  Properly guiding them on their journey is our hope that their seeds will blossom into successful careers.

For example, our very own director helped a student who was homeless this year.  This student was faced with a terminally ill mother who was unable to help her.  She was rejected and kicked out of her home by her siblings who did not approve of her career choice.  Unfortunately her mother passed away.  A young woman’s dream of cosmetology school might have been shattered if our director had not stepped in to help.    We provided proper guidance through the social services for shelter, Catholic Charities, and even job searching.  The director gave her money for food and started a collection for her bus fare to and from school.  She showed compassion when her very own family shut her out.  The entire staff is proud to say that this student is on pace to graduate.

When illness struck, our esthetics educator noticed.  A mother attributed her daughter’s problems to a “starving need for attention” when this student was really in need.  After 3 EMS pick-ups to our school our educator took matters into her own hands.  Knowing that this 17 year old needed her mother’s financial support to pay for her medical care this educator researched for hours to find a university doctor who took patients for free for classroom study.  When the university doctor found our students stomach coated with multiple ulcers he immediately contacted the mother.  He informed her mother that he was prepared to involve child services if she didn’t get her child the proper treatment.  Luckily she is doing fine and recovering after treatment.

Most of our students are at a crucial age searching for themselves and where they belong in society.  Depression and addiction can be debilitating and have affected many of our students this year.  Whether a student is searching for their sexual identity, has suicidal thoughts, is self- loathing, or feels like they don’t have a friend in the world we have proved we care.  For example, an educator shared that she witnessed someone cutting themselves in the bathroom and quietly cleaned and bandaged them without judgement.  She later spoke with that student and reassured her that she did have a purpose and had friends here at the academy.  This educator also shared that she leaves anonymous inspirational messages for students to find in their backpacks or kits.  These small things really do plant the seeds to try to make a difference.

Many of our students are single mothers working and attending school juggling it all.  These mothers have the odds stacked up against them.  Sometimes they lose their support of family so we encourage them not to give up on their dreams and keep moving forward.  For some domestic violence is a reality and we have recently helped a few students find safety and counselling.  Our TSPA educators are always listening and asking the proper questions to get the students the help they deserve.  We have also brought in many guest speakers to address these very difficult subjects in hopes of letting our students realize that they are not alone and can get help.

However, not all of our day is surrounded by tragedy which is always a good thing.  We had a student come to us this year who considered this career as her “last stop”.  She really didn’t know where to turn before she came to us.  A little bit older she strived to see how her potential and talent could grow.  With the help of our educators she fought the stereotype of being the “older student” and wound up being a tremendous leader.  The extra effort we put into each student, was something she never experienced before.  With her new sense of confidence and belonging she became a SUPER POSITIVE motivator.  This student also noticed that many of her fellow students didn’t have money for food for lunch so she started the” stone soup project”.  She spear headed the idea to have the entire school bring something from their cabinets and she would create meals for her fellow students.  She truly found a place she belonged here at TSPA. This student has since graduated but her smile still lives on.  We learned a lesson about ourselves at TSPA and that there is a place for everyone in this industry.  As fate would have it she won the Great Clips scholarship and was just awarded the Redken Scholarship.

Going to school with a learning disability can be discouraging.  At TSPA we work closely with each student’s individual learning levels.  We have those who struggle with test taking or just need better studying habits.  Fortunately, we have dedicated educators who offer their lunch and free time to tutor these students in need.  However, if we can’t give them the help they need we will seek outside help to best equip our students with the tools to learn at their own speed.  Working closely with programs such as Access VR and understanding each student’s individual learning style is important.  A perfect example comes to mind in which a team lead was baffled at how a talented student never went beyond one visit per guest.  After a meeting with her it was discovered the student was extremely shy and didn’t know how to talk to a guest.   Her team lead sought out several tools to find ways for her to express herself. First, she used the new Prosper U Curriculum.  This curriculum combines professional scripts, cliental building, and teaches students how to make proper retail suggestions based on their client’s needs.  Secondly, she found a new mentorship, which provided professional guidance, from another educator who was more the “quiet” type.  For this student each part of the salon aspect was shown a little bit at a time.  By graduation this student level jumped to the highest level to graduate a Level 4.  Her story shows how team work, mentorship, and curriculum can enhance a student meanwhile not changing their personality in the process.

We can’t escape that we are in a digital age.  Posting work on student’s personal Bloom accounts helps student showcase their abilities, build confidence, and reach potential future employers.  At TSPA we understand the importance of marketing each student’s individuality while teaching them that getting your work shown is important. The more you post the more exposure you can receive.  We encourage our students to take part in our very own Student Competition as well as numerous scholarship competitions.

Our academy culture is one of a kind in the way we use curriculum, personality, compassion, professionalism, and creativity to educate and motivate our students to strive for their dreams.  At the end of the day we have to remind ourselves that we can’t save them all, but our academy does their best in making sure we plant those necessary seeds to help each student reach their full potential.