Portrait of a Graduate in Action: Cosmetology, Communication & Collabs


Portrait of a Graduate in Action: Cosmetology, Communication & Collabs

October 13, 2023

Portrait of a Graduate in Action is a regular feature that will provide greater meaning and examples to the Warwick Valley Central School District’s Portrait of a Graduate, a representation of the district’s priority goals for teaching and learning to create graduates who are collaborators, communicators, creators and innovators, ethical and global citizens, resilient individuals, problem-solvers, and life-long learners — seven qualities to ensure every Warwick student receives a strong foundation to learn, lead, and find success.

The Cosmetology program at WVHS is part of Warwick Valley’s unique Career & Technical Education (CTE) program, which allows Warwick to provide in-house instruction in areas like cosmetology, criminal justice, cyber security, video production, green technology, and more. Cosmetology is a two-year CTE elective program that is available to students in their junior and senior years.

“Just being able to have this program available right here in the high school opens up so much opportunity for Warwick students to take advantage of a cosmetology program,” said program teacher Kathleen Bettello. “One of the many great things about this program, and about CTE in general, is that it requires you to develop a lot of skills that are interchangeable, and not just skills to work in the beauty industry; skills for all parts of life.” 

Wildcuts Salon, an extension of the cosmetology program, opened with Ms. Bettello as advisor during the 2017-2018 school year. The salon is student-staffed, full-service, and located right in the high school. It opens to the public and welcomes guests from around the community to make salon appointments for an array of hair and nail services on select Thursdays between November and June.

“With relation to our Portrait of a Graduate, in class and in the salon, we’re developing the qualities of being problem solvers, being effective communicators and collaborators, and we’re building a solid work ethic,” Ms. Bettello said. “These are the kinds of benefits that these students pick up from completing the program.”

Collaborators and communicators foster strong group dynamics by remaining open to varied opinions and valuing the input of others. They make connections with people like and unlike them. They listen; they ask questions. While everyday classroom learning helps develop these capabilities, these students have the added benefit of interacting with actual clients. The authentic experiences that the students in the WVHS cosmetology program have are what elevates their learning experience to next-level real world preparedness. The technical and customer service skills they learn are critical to professional success in the field, and rooted in their ability to communicate, collaborate, and problem-solve. 

Niamh Gormley is a junior who jumped into the popular elective program as soon as she was eligible.   

“I’ve always had a passion for makeup and hair and styling and all that, so I thought I could make a career out of it,” she said. “This [program] is a a great opportunity for that.”

Niamh enjoys the class for the skills she is picking up, but also said that having the elective in her schedule has been a positive on many levels.

“You could say cosmetology has boosted my morale around school work in a way,” she said. “Coming in here, this is a fun thing to do in the morning, and it gets me pumped for the rest of the day. The class always has me thinking, ‘I can’t wait to get to school tomorrow!'”

Ms. Bettello was quick to add, “It’s true, that students who get involved in CTE have a better attendance record overall, just to piggyback on what Niamh said.”

As for CTE career pathways, cosmetology offers plenty. Niamh said her goal is to go the hairstyling route, getting licensed, and establishing herself by renting space in a salon. Another amazing aspect of the WVHS cosmetology program, is that students earn work-based learning hours that count toward their state licensing examination, which New York State requires of anyone looking to become a licensed cosmetologists.  

Cosmetology Fun Fact: The classroom’s hall/bathroom pass is connected to a mannequin training head, like the one seen in this photo.

“Students use cosmetology as a foundation, but the sky’s the limit to where they can end up,” said Ms. Bettello. “Besides getting licensed, students can get into being salon educators, they can choose to work for big cosmetic companies in different capacities.”

Wildcuts Salon’s first open-to-the-public date of the year is coming up on November 2. Ms. Bettello and her salon crew invite you to check for availability and plan a visit for a pre-holiday season styling. You can be an important part of Portrait of a Graduate outcomes, by coming in and supporting the efforts of these WVHS students pursuing their passion.  

Read about two Wildcuts Salon alumni…

Savannah Acosta

Laura Cook




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