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Cosmetology Program Sets Students for Success
Student Spotlight: Jared Bouloy
Staff Spotlight: Penelope Feliciano

Cosmetology Program Sets Students for Success

Penelope Feliciano practices mindfulness with her IB Spanish class.

When Leander High School's cosmetology students finish the program, they are equipped with the exact criteria needed to pass the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation Cosmetology Operator Exam and begin their professional careers.

The cosmetology program gives students an edge in their professional careers. They have the benefit of small classes and a cost-effective alternative to post-secondary cosmetology education options. The intensive program requires students to log 1,000 contact hours under an instructor's supervision, which the students obtain by attending the 6-hour class every other day.

Sheanna Dudley is in her first year as the class's instructor


"When they leave our doors, they have everything they need to get certified," Dudley said.

In addition to the classroom work - tests, papers and reading material - students spend time getting hands-on skills in the salon. The students get "paid" for their work with imitation money. For a job well done, students receive the full amount. For a job that needs work, students have the opportunity to redo the assignment for half the price. And for students who do exceptional work, they have the opportunity to earn a tip.

The coursework includes practice in skills such as shampooing, haircutting, hair coloring and facials, but Dudley also teaches them the business aspect of cosmetology. The students learn team building with their peers and conflict resolution with their clients. Her senior-level students build a physical salon model from scratch for their final exam, complete with a floor plan, salon menu and a business plan with business cards and flyers.

In the salon at Leander HS, Dudley strives to give students a safe, fun place to grow as professionals and ultimately be prepared for the workplace.

"I believe in erasing fear," Dudley said. "I'd rather them be fearful here. I call my class their playground. This is where they can make mistakes."

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Student Spotlight: Jared Bouloy


If there is one word that could be used to describe Leander High School student Jared Bouloy, it would be "inspirational."

Bouloy, a senior, is involved in the rigorous International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme, captain of the cross country and track teams, a member of the National Honor Society and a PALS (Peer Assisted Leadership Service) volunteer. He is the president of the school's YMCA Youth & Government program and is a co-founder of the nonprofit Amare Outreach. Up until his senior year, Bouloy was also heavily involved in the Air Force JROTC and had been an officer.

In his spare time, Bouloy enjoys being outdoors, hiking and kayaking. He also enjoys swimming and scuba ping.

Speaking of what his plans are after high school, Bouloy said, "I want to be a military officer in the Marine Corps or Navy and be a special operations officer. Following my military career, I hope to go into politics and serve in Congress, either in the House or the Senate."

Bouloy began his high school career at Vandegrift High School. His decision to transfer to Leander High School from Vandegrift HS to pursue the IB Diploma Programme was inspired by Lt. Matthew Ryan Vandegrift, the namesake of Vandegrift HS. A 1999 honors graduate of Leander High School, Lt. Vandegrift enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in August of 2005 after graduating from Texas A&M University with honors with a degree in international business. Lt. Vandegrift was killed in Iraq in April of 2008.

Since Vandegrift HS opened in 2009, principal Charlie Little and the teachers, coaches and staff at the school have been intentional about teaching the students about the important legacy of Lt. Vandegrift - one of service, bravery and loyalty. The impressions left by Lt. Vandegrift's life resonated with Bouloy.

"One of my big inspirations has been Lt. Vandegrift. He was a very admirable person," Bouloy said. "I never knew him, but I was presented with the opportunity to meet his family. I had military aspirations before then, but meeting them served as a catalyst for those aspirations. I am motivated to go to a service academy, and I want to follow in his footsteps."

Now in his last year of high school, Bouloy's commitment to serving and helping others has come to life through the nonprofit he helped launch. Amare Outreach is a student-led 501c3 nonprofit that Bouloy and Dana Pierce began to help young people dealing with abuse and mental illness connect to school-based and community-based services. Students can use the Amare website to submit questions or concerns to school counselors anonymously. Counselors answer the questions in open forums or their answers are posted online. The organization has spread beyond Leander HS into other schools. Through the connections he made because of Youth & Government, Bouloy said that Amare is being used by students in Arizona and Pennsylvania. He hopes to continue to be involved in the organization after graduation.

Keeping up with his academics, school activities and a nonprofit organization means that Bouloy must manage his time effectively. He also credits his family and teachers for helping him balance it all.

"I am lucky to have had the support of the teachers and adults in my life. They have been supportive of my goals and everything I want to do. I have them to thank for that," Bouloy said.

Bouloy adds that his experiences in school have shaped him.

"Leander High School has done a really good job of modeling me into being the servant leader that I want to be," Bouloy said. "All of the programs that I have been involved in at Leander HS and Vandegrift HS, I've been able to take away something from them."

Bouloy reflected that in the AFJROTC he learned that one has to be a follower before he or she can be a leader. He has improved his public speaking and networking skills through Youth & Government. He's learned the importance of accountability in PALS and of the importance of setting a good example for future generations. In cross country and track, dedication and grit have helped him become a better competitor.

Echoing Lt. Vandegrift's influence on him, Bouloy is aware that others may be looking to him as an example they can follow.

"I believe the most important thing a leader can do is inspire other people," Bouloy said. "If I am inspiring people to serve others, then I'm serving more people in that way. The gift of inspiration that I've drawn from people like Matthew Vandegrift, I hope that it can spread to other people."

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Staff Spotlight: Penelope Feliciano

Penelope Feliciano practices "mindfulness" with her IB Spanish class.

For Penelope Feliciano, moving from New Jersey to Texas in November of 2011 seemed a scary prospect. Then, she found the perfect fit in Leander High School.

"It almost seems like someone had it completely planned out, how everything is just tying in so nicely," Feliciano said.

Feliciano teaches Spanish as a part of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. Spanish, as Feliciano's first language, is something she is passionate about, especially from a cultural standpoint, and she shares that passion for culture with her students every day.

"I believe it's a beautiful culture, not just a language," Feliciano said. "Although we are learning the Spanish language, we incorporate events and politics and social issues going on around the world."


As an IB teacher, Feliciano has the flexibility to focus on worldly topics and bring those topics to life for her students through classroom activities and projects. She strives to make education "real" for her students, to help them find a connection to themselves, their families and their culture, to be mindful of how the world affects them personally.

Mindfulness, in fact, is a prospect she teaches her students every day during the first three minutes of every class period.

When the bell rings and her students have been greeted, she enters the classroom and turns off the lights. Her students turn to the front of the room as she turns on meditation-type music in the background.

"And we'll just go through a breathing exercise. We'll do a body scan, which is kind of making them aware of their physical state of being at that moment," Feliciano said.

Then, she asks them to do a body scan: "How does your head feel? How do your feet? And your back? Are you tired?"

Next, she brings awareness to their consciousness: "What are your thoughts? What are you thinking about? Is anything holding you back?"

Finally, as the three minutes wrap up, she encourages the students to cleanse and to move forward: "Now we're going to let go. Let go of anything that isn't useful. Let go of anything that's bringing you down. Let go of anything that would impede you from your full capacity of learning."

Mindfulness in education is an avenue to teach students how to cope with stress, to become aware of their strengths and weaknesses, and to create an awareness in students that exceeds the focus on a pass or fail grade. Feliciano has found that, not only do her students enjoy the practice, she finds it vital to teaching her students as a "whole-student approach."

"Mindfulness just kind of brings it all together so nicely," Feliciano said. "They know I am helping them to cope, and to accept that sometimes, even when in your eyes you don't see something as success, to find the growth."

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