“And it’s a very structured program. We instill the basics,” said Patty Patterson, executive director of Franklin Academy for the past 10 years.
New classes start the first Tuesday of every month and run on a full-time schedule and has a two-phase program. The first consists of 300 hours of training in the basics and getting hands-on experience. Theory is taught four days a week, 1 1/2 hours every morning. Phase two is the advanced stage where students begin working with clients while an instructor supervises. “We are stricter than most schools. We feel when students walk out of our program, they’re a reflection of the school. We want them to be the best they can be, the most prepared, and the most successful.”
According to the Franklin Academy’s brochure, its purpose is to graduate well-rounded professional men and women, as well as technically competent cosmetologists, manicurists, aestheticians, shampoo technicians and/or instructors. The school brochure goes on to read: “We are devoted to preparing our students not only to pass the state licensing examination but also to enter and be successful in all phases of their new career.
Courtney Brown transferred to the Cleveland school five months ago from Texas. Franklin Academy accepts transfer credits.
“I heard a lot of good things about Franklin Academy,” Brown said. “It’s highly spoken of. I also heard it has a good graduation rate.”
In fact, Franklin Academy has a 98 percent completion rate and a 100 percent placement rate, including some prestigious and exclusive salons. And students come from all around the country, even the world, and in all ages. Currently, 87 students are enrolled, with a capacity of up to around 130.
““It’s a passion for all of us. That’s what I like about my staff. And it’s a stable staff,” Patterson said. Only a high school diploma or GED is required. Financial aid might also be available, such as Pell Grants or student loans. Age isn’t a factor. “A recent student is 60 years old.”
Moneque Arrowood is a lead instructor at Franklin Academy for seven years, but she also is a graduate from the school.
“I always knew I wanted to be an instructor,” Arrowood said. All Franklin Academy instructors hold current Tennessee licenses and continue taking ongoing workshops, seminars and continuing education classes. “I come from a long line of hairstylists. My mom and my grandma.”
But Franklin Academy is not just to teach students how to become a professional hairstylist or colorist, it is also a beauty salon open to the public, etc. All services are performed by students who are supervised. Services include hair care, including cuts, styles, shampoos, up-dos, braiding and scalp treatment, etc., as well as extensions if client furnishes them; hair color, including permanent hair colorings, foil highlights, cap highlights, eyebrows, and temporary rinses, etc.; permanent waves, partial waves, spiral/piggyback perms, etc.; skin care; waxing; nail care, including manicures and pedicures, as well as acrylic, silk, fiberglass and gel nails, repairs and nail art, etc.
Franklin Academy is a “full-service salon” said client Patricia Holden, music instructor. She came in to get a nail enhancement with acrylic nails. Salon appointments are by walk-ins only. School salon hours are Tuesdays through Fridays from 10:45 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. For salon chemical services, such as hair coloring and perms, etc., hours are Tuesdays through Fridays from 10:45 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 to 10 a.m.
The Franklin Academy is a member of the Cleveland-Bradley and the Chattanooga Chambers of Commerce, the Better Business Bureau and Junior Achievement. Franklin Academy also is accredited by the Council on Occupational Education in Atlanta and by the Tennessee State Board of Cosmetology in Nashville.
Patterson and her staff also donate their time, energy and skills to community projects, such as “Queen for a Day” which gives free hair and makeup sessions to abused and/or homeless women, as well as single moms, and free hair cuts during the annual “Night Out Against Crime” event. Franklin Academy folks have also donated to help with the makeup and hair for the Tennessee Christian Preparatory’s play productions. The salon is also available for bridal and birthday party events.
“The way I see it, my purpose in life is to minister to other women,” Patterson said. Over the years, roughly 500 students have graduated from Franklin Academy. “We’re impacting a lot of women who walk through our doors. We’ve made a difference in people’s lives.”