TAMPA, Fla. — Jay'Lan Hill is the star quarterback at Tampa's Middleton High School.
This exceptional student is a star off the field, as well — in the classroom, in the military and at the barbershop.
That's right a barbershop. A working one too, right in the heart of the campus.
Jay'Lan is learning the stylist trade at the school's one-of-a-kind Tiger Claw'd Barbershop, a real-deal hair cuttery and salon that trains students for a possible career.
"What I like about this class is that it gets you ready for the real world," says Jay'Lan, a renaissance man and then some.
Those real-world lessons are being taught by all-world educator Stephanie Grooms, who makes sure the young men and women in her program learn all facets of salon life, from the technical aspects to how to handle yourself with professionalism.
Students can also achieve state certification.
"Ms. Grooms taught me to believe in myself and push beyond the limits," says Julio Desmarat, a graduate of the program who did just that, even launching his own product line, D'Vinee Roots Hair Care.
Watching students past and present work, Grooms can't help but burst with pride — and maybe a few tears too.
"It's awesome to see them do everything I taught them, without having to remind them," she says. "It's embedded. And they're handling themselves with such professionalism. I'm getting teared up!"
Soon, Tiger Claw'd will open to the public, offering discounted haircuts and services.
(Full disclosure: I'm a happy customer myself, getting a sharp clean-up cut by Jay'Lan. I look good!)
For more on the Tiger Claw's Barbershop, click here.