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About The Dalles chronicle. (The Dalles, OR) 1998-2020 | View Entire Issue (March 14, 2020)
S P E C I A L
Weekend of March 14-15, 2020 A3
S E C T I O N
in the company of excellence
Real hair mannequin wigs await students.
Jim Drake photo
“We have a specific instructor for our nail program, we have a hair design
instructor and we also have a salon manager who oversees all the services on
the floor. They help coordinate all of the services for the day,” Weed said.
But the essence of the academy is providing hands-on training for students,
and that’s why many service — even some that are available in high-end
salons — are available to the public at gorge academy.
“An enrolled student is in here answering phones, scheduling appointments
and re-booking clients. It’s such a team environment with a very positive c
ulture. It’s a real-world experience,” Weed said.
Weed mentioned that the academy even has a cosmetology instructor
program, a facet of the beauty business that is sometimes overlooked as a
“We have one student enrolled and she basically shadows our instructors
and she helps write some of the curriculum, and helps to teach some of the
classes,” Weed said.
On average, it takes three or four months of classes to complete the course
hours work at Gorge Academy of Cosmetology, and students still need to pass
state licensing requirements. A massage therapy program can require 650
and take six months.
“We fulfill all the requirements set forth by the state, and we provide a
transcript and a certificate of completion of all the hours a student has in
their area of work. Then they go down to Salem to take their board exam,”
According to Weed, the academy is running at a 90 percent graduation
rate. She says the school is unique in that it accommodates flexible part-time
schedules for students that may be juggling family, work or even other
“We’re more of a boutique school, and being smaller means that I can get
involved and really create a livelihood for each student. That’s the most
rewarding part for me,” Weed said.
“Right now I have a high school student who’s in her senior year going
through our nail program. By the end of the summer she’s going to have her
nail license and her esthetics license, and our customizable scheduling was a
big reason why. We get people in their 20s and 30s, we get people who want
to reinvent themselves,” Weed said.
Weed said that every service in the salon is provided by a student, and
every student is overseen by an instructor. Facials, haircuts and coloring,
nail services, eyebrow waxing — it’s all recorded in detail for the state licensing
“A main aspect of our business is that the services have to be a teaching
experience, the state may require 300 nail services or 140 facials if you enroll
in the esthetics program. All of these things have to go on your transcript,”
Weed said that a haircut may take a little longer due to the teaching aspect,
but she is impressed with the quality of work she’s experienced.
“I got a facial a few weeks ago and was blown away at the level of the
student’s expertise. The product that we used was so luxurious and the work
was what you would find in a high-end spa,” Weed said.
Tackling something like a perm or special coloring can be stressful for first
time students, but the support of the teachers and the community seems to
make it easier for students at the academy.
“You can really get your confidence up when you have an instructor helping
you,” Weed said.
Weed spoke of one of her original students, who was 16 years old when she
started at the academy. After getting her license, she made a trip to New York
City and took a hair-cutting class. She got to talking to the salon owner, and
the owner was so impressed with her work that he offered her a job.
“It’s really amazing that she can be a hairdresser in New York City. That’s one
of my great success stories. It’s like you can do anything if you set your mind to
it,” Weed said.
Of course, there are some challenges to running a beauty academy. But Weed
says that each student, to her, represents a person that needs to be respected
and not judged.
“Sometimes it’s kind of like a sorority house in here,” Weed said. “But you
have to find a way to get along. You have no idea what is behind those eyes and
what their story is. We run as a team here.”
Gorge Academy of Cosmetology
422 E. 2nd Street, The Dalles, OR 97058
Book Services 541-769-1144
Enrollment Info 541-362-4247
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