As a little girl, Germaine Sandoval loved playing with hair. Barbie’s and any dolls with hair were not safe around her. She cut and styled every head of hair at arm’s length.
At 11 years old, Germaine highlighted her neighbor’s hair with peroxide. She considered using Clorox, but hesitated, knowing it put holes in clothes. What would it do to hair? By the time she was 22 she was cutting the hair of 5 neighbor kids and their mom who was single.
Becoming a motherless daughter at 10 years old, Germaine had to step up and help Dad with her 4 siblings. She learned how to work hard for what she wanted and did everything above and beyond what was expected.
Today one can find Germaine standing alongside a student mastering an ICON set of shears, hungry to learn the trade of haircutting, styling, becoming a color master and so much more. “I strongly believe that education is freedom.”
Teaching the students (anywhere from 18 to a retired school principal) is more than proper terminology and scissor skills (though they are important). “We have two years to teach skills and the art of building themselves up and not talking down to self. “By the time they finish, even if they decide to pursue something different, hopefully we have taught them how to live a different life, a healthy-mind life. A life that celebrates who they were created to be.”
Germaine, how do you retain the students you get? “It is not about making mistakes. It’s about keeping on keeping on. Not quitting. We allow them to make up hours, come in on Fridays, talk with them to find out what is behind absences.”
Germaine spoke about the fabulous teamwork in the college. From the supportive president to the vice-president to the directors and down the line. They work together for solution. With their eyes on the goal: to educate as best as they can.
Germaine views herself as a gardener. She plants the seeds. Adds the water of knowledge. And helps them to get rid of the negative thoughts, the weeds. This all helps to grow people.
“I have also learned that when a student gets really mad at me, it’s not about me at all. It is ultimately their life circumstances that they are mad at.” That allows her to distance herself from biting words and the need for more compassion. Of which she has an abundance.
What is her goal? “I have not come into this world to become a millionaire. I love what I do. Every person who walks through the door is here for a reason. There are no accidents. I am on this earth to help grow people. And I’ll never stop this side of heaven.”
Germaine’s gentle, but confident voice cracked a bit. “I love doing hair. I never planned to stay teaching. I had every intention to get back behind a chair. But I love people. Helping people become their best. I was hooked.”
As we neared the end of the interview, I realized that I didn’t want to hang up. To say good-bye. I was in the presence of someone very special.
But there were students standing behind their chairs, their colorful ICON shears in hand, waiting for the master.