Teacher /Program Spotlight: Patti Eaton/Cosmetology

You only need to have a brief conversation with Patti Eaton, Cosmetology Instructor at River Bend Career and Technical Center (RBCTC), in Bradford, Vermont, to know that she is passionate about color, design, beauty, and most of all, the positive side of all people! Patti has been teaching the science and the art of cosmetology to students in our area for the past 17 years. Her start in the field, however, began at an earlier age.

Patti grew up in New Mexico, and knew she had an interest in cosmetology at an early age. When she was 14 ½, she approached, and convinced, a privately run cosmetology school to let her enroll part-time while she attended her regular high school. For the next three years, she split her time between the two school; spending three hours a day in the cosmetology program. One of the three hours was spent in learning the theory and science behind the career, and the other two hours were spent working “on the floor” at the school’s salon. After high school, she went on to earn her state license at the age of 18, the youngest age allowed in New Mexico at the time.

Since then, Patti has experienced all aspects of the field in her various career choices. She has worked in many different types of salons, been a salon owner, and she has managed many salons for others. While she was a manager of a J.C. Penney Salon, she was approached by Clovis Community College to see if she might like to become a part-time faculty member in their school. Her work at the college soon increased in time, and her role changed to a full-time faculty member at the college. She found that she loved working with the students!

Patti’s husband had originally come from the northeast, and the family often traveled back to the Bradford area in the summers for vacation. While on vacation, Patti stopped into River Bend and introduced herself to the administration at the time. When RBCTC knew that they were going to have a vacancy in their Cosmetology Program, they contacted Patti, and she flew up for an interview. The position became hers!

Even Patti’s outside interests and her hobbies tie back into the field of cosmetology! She loves to travel and learn about other cultures. This relates directly to how these different areas in the world view beauty and fashion, which she finds fascinating. In addition, she is an artist, painting mostly in oils. She is currently taking a watercolor class, and expanding her skill level to a new medium. Color, style, balance, beauty and respected differences are all tied to her passion for the field of cosmetology.

What has excited Patti the most in her teaching career has been her students. She loves them all! What has been the most exciting is to see students whose passion is ignited by this field, those who work hard, those who strive for perfection, and those who have a real love of style, color, beauty and are enthusiastic about how people in this field help others!

One only has to look around in our area and see all of the successful past graduates of Patti’s program to see how she has ignited the fire in others over the years! From her program at River Bend, many students go on to seek a license, either in Vermont or New Hampshire. New Hampshire requires 1500 hours in specific subject and skill areas, while Vermont requires 1000 hours. Patti’s students usually carry about 350 accumulated hours to their post-secondary training after graduating from the Center. Time and time again, Patti’s students seem to complete these programs at a much faster rate than their peers, saving them considerable time and money. Once licensed, students have an amazingly wide-range of career options and directions for their future. Patti has had students become stylists, color specialists, nail technicians, salon managers, salon owners, spa operators, product representatives, theatrical make-up artists, and even pursue careers in the cruise ship industry! Her students have found success in metropolitan urban areas, as well as setting up a small home business in our area.

To create all of the opportunities that Patti shows her students, she is ever thankful to businesses and people in the field who support what she does with tours, placement opportunities, classroom demonstrations, and sound advice for the prospective cosmetologists! Some of those businesses that support her efforts so well include: Rio Blanca, Tranquilities, Images, Sleek Design, Robert Lawrence, Oxbow Hair Design, Sheer Animal, Signature Nails, Hair Suite, Tease, Hanover Cutters, Lebanon Barber Shop, Paul’s Barber Shop, and the J.C. Penney Salon. In addition to the people and businesses who support what Patti and her program are doing, there are three post-secondary schools that provide help, tours, demonstrations, and scholarship support to Patti’s students. The three schools are: The New England School of Hair Design in West Lebanon, New Hampshire; The Empire School of Beauty in Laconia, New Hampshire; and The Keene Beauty Academy, in Keene, New Hampshire.

Just by seeing the interest that Patti’s students have in their work and their clients, the constant return of former students who drop by to share their experiences and to say “hello” to Patti, and the positive atmosphere Patti generates in the entire River Bend Center, one would know that Patti is successful in sharing the passion and love of her field that she developed years ago!

For more information about the program, please contact River Bend Career and Technical Center at (802) 222-5212 or contact Patti at peaton@rbctc.org

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