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High School Cosmetology Teacher Stresses Communication

Teacher says, if students can't communicate effectively, it will have a negative impact on both their private and professional lives.

Tucked way in back of 's parking lot is a building most people wouldn't expect. Walk inside and you are immediately greeted by rows of synthetic heads.

It is the home of the cosmetology program, a part classroom and part full-functioning hair salon, where students do everything from hair and nails to makeup. 

Julie White has directed the program for the past 22 years.

She obtained her cosmetology certificate in 1977 and owned and operated various salons before teaching, first in her native Michigan, then in Clearwater. White eventually moved with her husband to Dunedin because she loves the small town atmosphere and sense of community. She has been taught and prepared students in their cosmetology certificates since starting at Dunedin High in 1989. 

A no-nonsense approach to teaching comes naturally to White. Her father was a U.S. Marine, then a teacher and coach, and her mother was a secretary near the district where she grew up. White said she believes all kids are good at something and stresses the importance of effective communication. She said communication can have a negative impact, not only in one's chosen field, but on all other aspects of their life. She doesn't permit cell phones or texting in her classes. 

"Too many kids spend so much time texting, they forget how to talk to others," she said.

White has anywhere from 25 to 40 students in class and divides her time between the classroom and salon. Along with teaching theory and supervising students, she provides training in customer service, salon protocol, malpractice, liability and other issues related to running a business.

White said she would be proud to have any of her students work with her, if she ever opens another salon.

About the program: Students can enroll in the cosmetology program starting in ninth grade, but must take a year of theory before advancing into the lab, where they get hands-on experience. The theory class includes chemistry and biology and counts as a science credit. In the lab, students must complete 14 semesters at 90 hours each to obtain a high school cosmetology degree. (They must still take the Florida State Certification Examination, a two-part, written exam that requires a student to be at least 16, have a high school diploma or GED, and pay $88.)

To make an appointment: The salon is open on Tuesday and Thursday from 9:15 a.m. to 1 p.m. To make an appointment, call 727-298-1650 or 727-469-4100, Ext. 2069.

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