It is not every day you see a classroom full of mannequin heads; some with short hair, some with long hair and others with no hair.
It is also not an everyday occurrence to see a classroom with no desks or shelves full of textbooks.
In this class there is not even a chalkboard or projection screen, yet over 23 students come to the Holton Career and Resource Center every weekday to learn about cosmetology from instructor, Pamela Wilson.
At the Holton Center programs thrive that train and instruct community members in traditional and new emerging industries. The center offers courses that aim to merge students who are unable to take career based courses at their assigned high school, into real world careers, such as cosmetology, construction and small business and entrepreneurship.
While the center consists of a diverse staff of teachers and mentors, Pamela Wilson sets herself apart with her unique cosmetology program and teaching methods.
Wilson has been a cosmetology instructor for nine years.
“I got licensed in 1994 and knew from the start that cosmetology was my career,” said Wilson. “It was only after years of formal training at Mitchell’s Academy that I discovered my passion is to be a cosmetology instructor.”
A Durham native, Wilson said her father wanted her to attend college. She completed one year and decided she wanted to go to beauty school.
“This was my second career actually,” said Wilson. “My father was a barber and after I got my daughter through college, I enrolled in beauty school.”
“For five years I really studied, wanting to become an instructor,” she said.
It was only a year ago that Wilson began volunteering at Holton. She had been an instructor at private schools and through word of mouth, heard about the cosmetology program offered at Holton. Wilson stopped by for a tour of the school and immediately offered to volunteer.
Eventually, the center offered her a position as the head cosmetology instructor. Since then, she has built relationships with students and staff through her love of hair.
“I just love the young people, they keep me on my toes,” Wilson said. “They keep me young.”
With every rewarding portion of her career, there come challenges and for Wilson that is getting the students to stay focused and enthusiastic about the bookwork involved with the curriculum.
“It’s a hands-on class and the book work is a different animal,” said Wilson. “We do have 32 chapters in our cosmetology textbook to get through and that’s a challenge.”
“They don’t really like the words that associate with the skills,” she said.
Wilson said the reading material is necessary but challenging to keep each student focused on the material and the rigorous vocabulary. She said her students prefer more hands-on activities.
But even as an instructor, Wilson said she still has a mentor that guides her in the profession just as she guides her students.
“I have a wonderful young lady that is a mentor,” said Wilson. “We meet once a week and she’s been a great help to me with anything I need to know.”
Her love for her work has also translated to her students.
Shanice Brand, 18, senior Holton cosmetologist, said Wilson is a good teacher with a gift for the profession.
“There has been many times she came to me when I needed help,” said Brand. “She has patience.”
Brand said Wilson uses cosmetology techniques that unique and helpful for students like her.
“She has techniques that help me remember whatever I need to accomplish in the school,” said Brand. “For example, I needed help with a technique for wrapping hair last week.”
“She showed me a technique she learned when she was in school and it helped me a lot,” Brand said.
Students have also left lasting impressions on Wilson that she said make her job rewarding.
“I’m amazed everyday by their talent,” Wilson said of her students. “They’re not inhibited by other things and their minds are more free.”
“They’re not afraid to make mistakes and when I teach them something they immediately can do it,” said the instructor. “It’s fascinating and they don’t question themselves.”
Wilson said as she has spent the past years exploring cosmetology, she plans on more exploration in the future as retirement draws near.
“I just take one day at a time,” she said. “I only plan to work a couple more years and then my husband will retire and we plan to travel.”