Warren County Career Center Cosmetology Instructor Levetra Staten was selected as the 2021 WCCC Project Excellence Teacher, and was surprised with the good news recently while teaching in her lab. The annual award is given to public school teachers in Warren County through the Area Progress Council.
“I was surprised and honored to receive this award,” she said. “I come to work every day and teach. I focus on the students, and on getting students prepared for work and life. I didn’t expect this, and it was overwhelming to get this recognition.”
The past year has been a tough one for teachers and students. WCCC shut down on March 16, 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic and didn’t open back up until the start of the 2020-21 school year in August. For about seven months of the school year, students were reporting on a limited schedule. Cosmetology students must earn 1500 hours in the classroom in order to qualify to take the Ohio Board of Cosmetology exam.
“My first thoughts were, how are these students going to finish up?” she said. “We got guidance from the state, and then I came up with a plan to get them through the end of the year. It was a challenge, not being able to get them their tools to use at home, but we made it work. Some of my seniors this year will finish on time with all the required hours. My seniors would come in after the juniors left during limited days in January to get their hours in. It’s been a hard year, and they all worked hard.”
But while the year was challenging, Ms. Staten still found joy in teaching.
“This is a year I will never forget,” she said. “But it’s been one of the best years because I was able to learn a whole new way of teaching. I got to collaborate with other Cosmetology teachers all over Ohio. Thank God I had that support. It made me excited because I was doing some new things. When we were on limited lab hours this year, I had my juniors start a haircut at school and finish at home. I would have never done that. My seniors had just started learning hair color when we shut down last March. I had to teach it online, and then hit it hard in the fall.”
Ms. Staten is very proud of her students and how they adapted to remote learning and limited lab time. “I had seniors who were supposed to go to state board exams in March 2020, and many of them didn’t get to go until July, but they all passed. In October, I had another group of seniors that went to state board exams all passed, the last two students finished in January. All but one have taken their state board exams. All of them are working in salons, too!”
While she typically doesn’t expect a lot of attention, she is touched by the award.
“I am grateful to be recognized, and know that all the work you do isn’t unnoticed,” she said. “I am just here for the students. My family and friends are all so excited for me, and my children said, ‘mom this is big!’”
Ms. Staten began teaching the high school Cosmetology program mid-year of 2013 after spending over six years teaching Adult Education Cosmetology at WCCC, both part-time and full-time. She studied Cosmetology at Miami Valley Career Technology Center while she was in high school, and she earned her diploma and state cosmetology license in 1982. She earned her Career-Technical teaching certificate at Wright State University. She taught high school Cosmetology for five years at Patterson Career Center, now the Ponitz Center, and six years at Greene County Career Center. She lives in Miamisburg and has two daughters, Stacey and Kara, and three granddaughters and one grandson.