ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — For 30 years, hair and beauty super-stylist Mick Ferrari has made people living in the Tampa Bay area beautiful.
But volunteer work with such local nonprofits as the Kind Mouse got him thinking about using his talent to truly help others succeed.
That’s what led Ferrari to St. Petersburg’s Lealman Innovation Academy, an “alternative” high-school for kids who struggle with a traditional curriculum.
“We’re all in this together,” says Ferrari, watching over the teenagers as they beautify mannequins and each other. “We’re all starting out together.”
Ferrari is the first-ever teacher at the school’s first-ever cosmetology course.
And it’s a smash hit.
Fifty-six students “learn the full range of beauty culture: hair styling, coloring, nails, skin care, facials,” Ferrari says.
Lealman thrives on personal learning, providing kids who may have fallen through the academic cracks a positive path to future careers.
“I promised them I was going to run our classroom like a hair salon,” says Ferrari. “In a hair salon, there’s free exchange of thought and creative ideas and chatter. And we encourage everybody.”
Many of the kids will graduate from Ferrari’s course and be ready to take – and pass — a cosmetology certification test.
The course is such a success that Lealman is already building bigger posher digs on campus for the cosmetology students.
So far, he’s relied on beauty donations from the community to make sure the kids have what they need.
Rachel, a freshman, says Ferrari’s course is the first to truly inspire her.
“We learn things here that I actually remember,” says Rachel. “If I learn things in other classrooms, I’ll just forget them. I don’t need that in life. But this? I’ll remember.”