Return to Headlines

Riverchase Career Connection Center Unveils New Simulated Workspace for Cosmetology and Barbering Training

September 19, 2023

(Hoover, AL) -  The Riverchase Career Connection Center (RC3) is proud to announce the grand opening of its sixth academy program, the Cosmetology and Barbering Academy. The state-of-the-art lab will provide students with a brand-new simulated workspace, empowering them to prepare for a prosperous future in the industry. On Friday, September 15, RC3 celebrated the opening of the workspace with Hoover City Schools (HCS) District leaders and the project developers by hosting a ribbon-cutting.

The opening of the Cosmetology and Barbering Academy marks another significant milestone for RC3 and its dedication to shaping the workforce of tomorrow. The new academy has the latest industry-standard equipment with the goal that students will graduate fully prepared to excel in the industry.

Dr. Debra Walker Smith, Hoover City Schools Executive Director of Career and Technical Education, said, “This has been a dream of mine and others in Hoover City Schools for a long time. I’m thankful to the Superintendent and the Hoover City Schools Board of Education for all of the support they give to RC3 in adding additional high-wage/high-demand programs. Our goal is always for students’ interest to meet our instructional practices to create post-secondary opportunities of success for them.”

The new workspace addition to RC3 is a $577,000 construction project developed by Ellis Architects, Inc. and Ducan and Thompson Construction Services. Since opening its doors in August 2019, RC3 has been committed to offering students a dynamic learning environment and hands-on training. The facility serves the students of Hoover High, Spain Park High, and Homewood High Schools.

RC3's six academy programs are:

  • Culinary and Hospitality Academy

  • Cyber Innovation Academy

  • Fire and Emergency Services Academy

  • Health Science Academy

  • Skilled Trades Academy

  • Cosmetology and Barbering Academy

With the addition of the Cosmetology and Barbering Academy, RC3 continues its tradition of excellence in career technical education. There are two instructors for the new academy, both of whom own salons and have a combined 47 years of experience in the cosmetology and barbering industry. There are 97 students currently enrolled in the academy, and the simulated workspace is integrated with classroom instruction. 

Instructor Kareemah Saadiq said, “Cosmetology is a very promising industry, and it’s continuing to grow. We’ve already had people from the community reaching out to RC3 and saying they’ve heard about the program. They’re looking for students, so hopefully, we can create the pathway for them to enter their career field. Thank you to the Hoover City Schools District for supplying us with everything we need to ensure our students are successful.”

Instructor Le’Neka Smith said, “I own The Cut Up in Oxford, Alabama, and I bring the experiences I have learned there over 20 years to my students. I have the opportunity to give them a visual representation of the industry. Right now, for classroom instruction, the students are learning safety and sanitation to get them ready to go into the lab. They’re learning how to clean the lab and their implements for State Board purposes.”

This expansion reflects RC3's dedication to meeting the diverse career needs of students and providing them with real-world experiences. Multiple corporate and government business entities have partnered with HCS to transform RC3 into a reality. The facility, formerly known as Pelham Middle School, was acquired from Pelham City Schools in 2017 and underwent extensive renovations to create high-tech simulated workspaces for each academy program. 

RC3's commitment to education extends beyond providing technical skills. The facility is focused on college and career readiness while fostering a sense of community and collaboration among students, preparing them for a successful and fulfilling career.