September 15, 2020
The CMCSS mission is to educate and empower students to reach their potential. For Nyla Saines, CHS Class of 2020, her high school experience also empowered her to achieve her dream. Even at an early age, Saines dreamed of working in the beauty industry. Through the Clarksville High CTE cosmetology program, she made her dream a reality.
“Since I was five-years-old I’ve always loved doing people’s hair and nails,” Saines said. “But I struggled with my own self-esteem and confidence issues.”
When Saines first heard about the Career and Technical Education (CTE) program, she was interested but unsure. “It’s not easy,” she insisted. “The courses are very hands-on and students have to take the work seriously.” By her junior year, she was certain this was the right decision.
That’s when she was first introduced to a teacher who made a big impact, Laina Shearon. Shearon is the cosmetology teacher at Clarksville High School. Shearon has taught at CHS for four years and is also a licensed cosmetologist.
“Ms. Shearon is one of the most loving and caring people I’ve ever encountered,” said Nyla. Whenever she felt self-doubt creep in, Ms. Shearon was right there to lift her back up. “She always told me to be confident in my work and never give up.”
The hard work paid off. Nyla Saines became the first Tennessee high school student to receive her Cosmetology license through an apprenticeship model, while still a full-time student. “Nyla has always worked so hard and stayed so determined in her journey of obtaining her cosmetology license. It definitely took hard work, perfected skills, and lots of focus to accomplish what she did,” said Ms. Shearon.
In 2020, Saines was licensed by the State Board of Cosmetology and Barber Examiners as a Cosmetologist.
The CHS cosmetology program uses the apprenticeship model to license students by sending them to take their state board theory exam at 750 hours. This is usually accomplished by the second semester of their junior year. Once they pass this exam, students begin gaining hours by apprenticing under a cosmetology mentor. The mentor must have at least 10 years of licensed experience. Students begin making connections and finding their own options for mentors during their sophomore year as they create their resumes and interview different cosmetologists.
The apprenticeship provides a practical and professional experience as the students work towards completing their 1500 required hours before they are eligible to take the state board practical exam. Students receive official licensure from the State of Tennessee after passing this exam.
Today, Saines is a student at Austin Peay State University. While she’s been offered positions at salons, she’s made the choice to focus on her studies and offer her cosmetology services part-time. “I’m looking into a business degree,” she said, “to maybe open my own salon one day.”
During her CTE program, Saines enjoyed the hands-on and real-world experience the program was able to offer. She had an apprenticeship at a salon in town, which provided a wonderful opportunity to learn about salon management first hand. Ms. Shearon agrees the local connections make transitions to apprenticeship seamless.
For current students who are considering the CTE pathway, Nyla offered this advice. “Trust your gut. Never give up.”