Blog | Ridley-Lowell Business & Technical Institute


  • By Lauren Kuzara

     “There’s a growing education bubble, with rising tuition and students taking out loans they might not be able to pay back. . .at some point. . .it’s going to pop (Jacobs, 2015),” warned Mark Cuban a wealthy entrepreneur in 2015. Two year later, the situation is not looking any better.

    Warnings like these need to be paid attention to because the effects of allowing this “bubble” to burst are going to alter the entire economy.

    Prior to taking the course Foundations & Emerging Trend in Higher Education at Post University, I was aware that the cost of education was ever-increasing, and that the value of the education was often not equal to its cost. I have counseled my own children to go into trades, and not to jump straight from high school into a college education until they were sure they needed a college degree for the career path they had chosen. Before deciding to pursue my master’s degree, I thought about the value my master’s degree would have on my earning potential and decided it was a sound investment. The amount I will be paying off each month on my student loan will be less than the amount my earning potential increases. How do we stop the looming student loan bubble?

    Professor Daniel Lin has an interesting answer: Reduce the government subsidies, meaning reduce the availability of student loans (Learnliberty, 2013). At first this suggestion seems almost cruel. After all, without access to student loans, less citizens would be able to attend college. But that is exactly what Prof. Lin wants to happen. His belief is that the rising cost of education is a simple supply and demand problem, so by allowing less people to be able to afford a college education the demand is decreased, and the cost in turn will also decrease (Learnliberty, 2013).

    If we allow this to happen, will those at the lower end of the income spectrum be forever stuck, unable to get the education they need to advance economically? Actually, this is not what would happen. “Seven of the ten fastest growing jobs in the next decade will be based on on-the-job training rather than higher education (Encounterbooks, 2012).” Dr. Lin also notes that in other countries there is a robust program of apprenticeship and vocational training (Learnliberty, 2013).

    The economist Dusty Wunderlich would agree. Wunderlich points out, “in 2020 there will be 19 million more college graduates but only 7 million new jobs requiring a college degree (TEDx Talks, 2016). Clearly, we are over saturating the market with college graduates. People are going into debt for years and end up with a job that does not require a college degree. Wunderlich notes that those who go to college and take on debt often cannot afford to buy a house or a car, get married, or save for the own children’s college education (TEDx Talks, 2016). This mean that our societies belief that a college education is the best path to economic stability is just not true anymore.

    Wunderlich suggests four solutions to break the bubble or overcome “Education Arbitrage (TEDx Talks, 2016)” as he calls it. First, he would like to see student loans being granted based on the potential for earning the education commands. This would prevent students from being able to take out large student loans for training towards a career that will not afford for them to pay them back. This idea is similar to Prof. Lin’s: reduce demand and the cost will go down. Second, Wunderlich suggests institutes of higher education need to focus on placement rate and earning potential rather than on admission rates or even graduation rates to ensure the value of their degree is equal to their tuition. Third, it is imperative that we train our future college students to make smart choices about their education and career path. We must break the idea that college is for everyone and the only path to economic success. It’s important that, as a society, we accept it is a valid decision not to go to college and instead pursue vocational training.  Lastly, Wunderlich remarks that employers need to do better screening of potential employees rather than on just requiring a degree. For many jobs a college degree is asked for by the employer as a way of confirming a basic level of competence; however, there is no knowledge one would gain from college that is actually required for the position. If instead these employers put more time into properly interviewing and screening their potential employees, requiring a degree would be unnecessary. (TEDx Talks, 2016).

    I believe Wonderlich has set out a smart solution, but I worry that one of the hardest parts of his plan is to retrain people to believe that a college education is not the only right path to economic success. Mike Rowe, of Dirty Jobs fame, has made it a personal crusade to reeducate people about the value of working in a vocation job. He discusses a poster his guidance counselor hung in his office back in the 1970s with the quote, “Work smart, not hard.” The poster showed a photo on one side of a happy graduate and on the other side a downtrodden factory worker. Rowe is working to change this image with a new one of his own he has captioned, “Work smart and hard.” In his image, the graduate is looking lost and downtrodden and the factory worker is holding a computer and looking happy and successful (ReasonTV, 2013).

    Rowe acknowledges that what parents want for their children is a good and successful life, a future better than their own. It seems to parents that college is the easy answer to attaining that goal. However, looking at the reality of how many students are attempting to get a college degree, versus how many are successfully graduating and getting a high paying job proves that college is not the answer. This means society must acknowledge that there are other, and perhaps better, paths to creating success. (ReasonTV, 2013).

    Lauren Kuzara has been Ridley-Lowell’s Danbury Campus Director overseeing Allied Health, Construction and Beauty Trade programs including Medical Assisting, Massage Therapy, Esthetics/Skin Care, Electrical Systems Technician, & Phlebotomy since 2016. She oversees Ridley’s accreditation compliance, keeping the network of schools delivering top educational standards. She has been an advocate for career education for years, having worked as staff and faculty for other vocational schools in Connecticut. For more information contact

  • By Jen Baers, Studio 10 Online

    Social Media made its mark on the world around 2002 with the advent of FRIENDSTER, LINKEDIN, MYSPACE, AND FACEBOOK.  Since then connecting with people online has become a regular way of life.  There are many positive things to be said for connecting online, but sometimes people fail to realize their posts are not happening in their own private bubble and are, in fact, there for the entire world to see.

    Now imagine you are up for a new job, that employer goes over to your Facebook page to do some research on what their potential employee’s life is like and the way they conduct themselves online. How do they interact with other people, what kind of online language do they use, what types of activities do they participate in, do they get along well with others, what’s their attitude like?  These are the types of things that can be observed about you if someone was to check out your Facebook page or your Instagram account.  This insight I am sharing is in no way trying to convince you to be somebody you are not.  Social media lets your true personality shine and that’s a good thing.

    Let’s take a closer look at Social Media and how it can be a used as a tool to support your career, and what to be mindful of to prevent it from hurting you.

    10 Do’s and Don’t’s of Social Media for Students That Can Help or Hinder Your Career.

    1.     It’s good to share your passions; passions are a key part of who you are. Be aware of posting activities that may be a little too personal.  Think about social media as being PG13 space.

    2.     This never makes you look good.  Imagine saying some of the things you post directly to someone who could hire you.

    3.     Healthy debating is positive when sharing ideas on a topic. Be careful about attacking someone’s character.  That makes you look like you don’t really have a well thought out opinion and can’t get into a healthy debate without losing your cool.  On the other hand, debating and sharing your ideas without attacking others shows you to be the type of person who is open to ideas and respectful of others’ opinions.

    4.     Constantly attacking others, businesses, people or your school. This shows a bad attitude and a person that has a chip on their shoulder and an inability to take responsibility for their own life.  In life, everything you see is a reflection of you.

    5.     Encouraging others on their posts. This shows you as a team player and a person that wants to build others up.  There is such a thing as Facebook Currency.  This comes in the way of Likes, Shares, and Comments.

    6.     You don’t have to constantly share your input, but making comments here and there is a good way to show how you participate in life.   Liking, sharing and commenting on posts not only helps others, you will get the same in return.

    7.     What do your photos say about you? Do you do volunteer work? Do you love animals? What are your relationships like?  Everything you post online—including reviews—shows the type of person that you are, your attitude about life, and your character.  Think of photos as telling the story of your life in a visual way.

    8.     There is no bigger turn-off to an employer than bad spelling and grammar, even on social media.  Language is a tool to communicate.  Even if it takes a few extra minutes to proofread, it’s worth it.

    9.     Don’t use social media as a griping device about your school, job, boss, friends or family. This can easily get back to any one of them, and a moment of dissatisfaction can turn into a bad lasting impression.

    10.  What kind of reviews do you leave? Do you express gratitude or attitude?  Do you act out your anger by leaving negative reviews for businesses or your school for that matter?  Leaving your experience in a review is a good way to show your appreciation for your teachers and your alma mater. You can share the ways in which you value your education and all that you learned as well as the ways you grew as a person.  Are you the type of person that goes on a rant online, or do you communicate directly with those you have an issue with in order to resolve issues?  These things can be red flags or green lights for a potential employer.  Leaving a one star review in anger can end up making you look bad.  If you are upset with a business or service, try to work things out directly with them first.

    I want to reiterate that it’s important to be the authentic YOU online, but the point I really want to get across is what kind of authenticate you is being communicated online.  Look back at your history and look at the way you responded to issues, and the type of things you posted online.  This will give you some good insight into the way you react to life.

    I’m going to leave you with a take-away from this blog.  Get started right now on Linkedin and create your profile.  Linkedin will allow you to connect with potential employers and start your career network.  Ridley-Lowell will continue to be a resource and connect you to potential jobs as you move through your career.  Make sure to join our Alumni group and stay in touch. Now go out there, and conquer!

    Jen currently manages the social media for Ridley-Lowell Business & Technical Institute.  For the past 20 years Jen has spent perfecting her design and marketing skills in order to develop business brands through print and web. She has worked with companies such as ABC, Disney, The Dodgers, Chevron just to name a few.  She created Studio 10 Online to assist businesses in dominating their local markets.


  • By Debbie Brundage LPN, RMA, CPC, AHI

    Medical billing and coding workers are the health care professionals in charge of processing patient data such as medical records and related insurance information. Medical insurance billers and coders code a patient's diagnosis, physician visits, office procedures, hospital visits, and hospital procedures along with a request for payments from the patient's insurance company.

    What do you need to know to do this?  You must know how to speak medical language and know what the body is made of and how it functions.  These classes are called Anatomy and Physiology and Medical Terminology.  These classes along with learning about insurance and the laws that govern insurance companies are the various components learned in order to work in the various medical billing and coding fields.

    In order to bill and code an operative report, you need to be able to read the report (medical terminology) and know what part of the body they are speaking of (anatomy).  Physiology is how your body works and knowing the function of organs will help you understand what procedures were done and to what extent.  An example of all of this would be the sentence:  “I biopsied a lesion of the ileum that measured 4 x 5 mm” which was sent to Pathology.   A biopsy is removal of a piece of representative tissue from the body.   The ileum is a part of the small intestine.  A lesion is a growth.  Pathology is the department in the hospital where they study disease through gross and microscopic examination (seeing with eyes alone and with the microscope). 

    You would not be able to read and understand a report without knowing the medical language spoken.  Knowing where organs are would help you understand that the above named “ileum” is part of the small intestine.  The physicians assume you know this.  Medical terminology courses will teach you that a lesion is a growth, pathology is the study of disease and a biopsy is removal of tissue for pathological examination. 

    Medical billers and coders can work in physician offices, hospitals, nursing homes, radiology office, laboratories, insurance companies, and ambulance companies to name a few employers.  Understanding the need to pursue the medical portion of being a biller and coder is essential to your studies.  Continuing education is needed in most medical fields and it is true of the Certified Professional Coder, the credentials you receive when you pass your exam through the AAPC. 
    Ridley Lowell offers all courses needed to pursue your CPC.

    Debbie Brundage has been an Instructor for Ridley-Lowell’s Allied Health programs including medical assisting, medical administration, billing and coding and phlebotomy since 2013.  Her medical career includes working as an LPN/MA at Danbury Hospital. For more information contact

  • By Whitney Folan

    As the Admissions Representative, it is always a proud moment when I am able to watch the students I have enrolled accomplish their goals and walk across the stage every graduation. Three years ago, when the Dental Assistant program began at Ridley-Lowell Business and Technical Institute, I was elated to be able to provide a new opportunity for students to learn and get the hands on training they need to start a new career.

    In 2014, we had an 89% job placement rate for the Dental Assistant program, one the best placement rates we’ve had for a new program. Most of our graduates have passed their radiology and infection control certifications, including 2015 graduate Tanaysha Dixon, who proudly acknowledges her education as a key component to her success. “My experience at Ridley-Lowell helped me to become the Dental Assistant I am today because the teachers take their job seriously. If you want to have a career when you graduate, they are going to try their best to help you reach that goal. Everything I know about dental assisting, I learned by attending classes daily and putting in the work!”

    After completing the Dental Assistant classes on campus, students receive training in a real dental office by completing a 300 hour externship. Tanayasha’s extern site was Columbia Dental Group. Four weeks into her externship she was offered a job and has been there ever since. “It’s been 1 year and 3 months in this position. The opportunity they gave me to be part of their team makes me feel lucky. I can say I’m completely satisfied in my office!” Of course, starting out in the office Tanayasha was extremely nervous, but confident that her classes prepared her for her job duties from start to finish.  “For me my favorite class was being in the lab because we were hands on and learning something new. You learn so much in the 6 months you’re in classes and the last 3 months at your externship. It can get tricky, but it’s all worth it.”

    September classes are coming up soon and seating is limited. Tanaysha’s advice to prospective students, is simple; a dental career can be fulfilling and worth working hard for. “I knew becoming a Dental Assistant was going to be a challenge, but to know that your job is to satisfy people's needs and they walk out of your office smiling because you just gave them that boost of confidence by fixing their teeth; there is no greater feeling. The best advice I can give to anyone walking into the dental field is that nothing is easy, but it will all be worth it.”

    Whitney Folan has been an Admissions Representative at the New London Campus since 2012

  • By Nina Cudney

    Last month, I attended the advisory council meeting for the Electrical Systems Technician program at Ridley-Lowell Business & Technical Institute. These meetings serve as an opportunity for local employers to come in and share feedback about the real world requirements and expectations for the Electrical field. The goal is to make sure that Ridley’s curriculum stays current to both state and industry standards while preparing students for employment upon graduation.  

    As a freelance writer, it was clear that I was not there to talk about Ohm’s Law and circuitry. I was asked to attend and act as the reporter on the inside scoop of what really goes on behind the scenes of this intense program. The word “intense” came to mind the moment I walked into the lecture room and saw a math equation and diagram that took up the entire length of the white board - proof that being an Electrician is not an amateur’s game.

    The round table discussion began with introductions. The combined experience in that room had to be closing in on 100 years! Charlie Noe from Healy Electric IBEW Local 3, Robin Brundage of Brundage Electric, Jordan Ramey of Hantsch Electric (who is also a current student) and Nancy Wildman, a local small business owner, represented the employer side. Philip Adams (Lead Electrical Instructor) and owner of Adams Unlimited Construction is a Master Electrician (E-1). David Coelho is another Electrical Instructor who retired from CT Light and Power (now Eversource) after 40 years and remains in the field by teaching at both Ridley-Lowell and Henry Abbot Technical High School where he has taught since 1976. Finally, David DeSousa, a graduate of Ridley-Lowell, who has returned to assist as an Instructor and now employed in the field at Bertozzi Electric. This was certainly a well-informed group to be discussing the field.

    So, how does Ridley keep up with the ever-changing State regulations? Well, this is no easy feat. Hosting this Advisory council meeting is one way to stay ahead of the game. When State requirements change Philip and David move into action quickly to make sure that all of the updated texts and supplies are ordered and manage to incorporate the content into their program in a fashion that does not throw their students off into the land of confusion. This was confirmed by the four students in the room as well. Jordan Ramey, Brandon O’Donoghue, Josh Cole, and Dwayne Ward are all current students in the Electrical program and came in with varying levels of knowledge and experience in the field. Throughout the conversation, each of the students would contribute with confidence and sincere respect for the profession. I was impressed by the way these students were carrying on conversations with men that had been in the field for many years!  From discussing tools to blueprint reading, I was in awe watching these young men keep up with the dialogue amongst the pros!

    Robin Brundage, of Brundage Electric, compared Ridley’s electrical toolkit to the work bucket he’s been carrying around daily for many years. Mr. Brundage proposed a few suggestions to update the toolkit for Ridley’s students. In agreement, Philip and David updated the toolkit for the students that started in 2016 shortly after the meeting was held. Improvements such as these add to the quality of the program and confirm the great importance of Advisory meetings.

    Although working with electricity is a very serious matter, it was clear that the students enjoy themselves as well. They spend five hours a day together in a rigorous academic setting and get very close to one another. Aside from their required lab hours, they have opportunities to go on real world jobs with their Instructors and get a feel for what it’s like to work with clients and be able to troubleshoot on the job. They even assist the Instructors with inside jobs at the school. One student spoke about his experience trying to figure out why a light was flickering in one of the staff offices. It’s not always as simple as we think it is. These moments not only build confidence but they encourage curiosity and self-directed learning, which is a skill that cannot be taught by a textbook.

    I left the meeting impressed, enlightened and very confident that the graduates that come out of Ridley’s electrical program are some of the most well-equipped in the area, hands down

    Nina Cudney has been freelancing since 2008 and has worked in many areas of writing - from blog posts to grant proposals. In 2010, she came on board at Ridley-Lowell as an Admissions Representative and worked her way up to the Dean of Education. Always putting her heart into everything she does, she is now following her passion and has a full-time career as a Writer and Wellness Coach. 


  • By Joanne Rodriguez

    We have been trying to change the scope of practice of Medical Assistants for the past 4 years with the state legislative bodies, to include the administration of medications. This has been led by the Connecticut Society of Medical Assistants under Policy Chairperson, Holly Martin. Connecticut and New York remain the last two states where this task cannot be performed. Last year several of us testified before the Public Health Committee, and we were advised to compromise by settling for Medical Assistants to administer vaccines.  We were told that the senate would pass the bill if we would take the “baby steps” approach, and then perhaps in a few years revisit the issue of “medications”. In 2015 we followed this advice. The bill, SB 981 passed the senate, but there was not enough time left in the House for it to get heard. Our bill died on the floor as time ran out.  Now, in 2016, the legislative session reconvenes, and we are back…our bill again presented to the senate, we testify before the Public Health Committee, now it is called HB 5129. This year is a short calendar year, and the final gavel rings down this spring. What will the outcome be? We are being very patient.

    In order to get the bills before the Public Health Committee swiftly heard, we hired a lobbyist. The AMT is splitting the cost with the CSMA (the cost must be covered by the state chapters). Nurses and respiratory therapists oppose our agenda. These groups mass email their representatives their opposition. To help our cause, we must do the same.

    Our wonderful staff at Ridley-Lowell has come to the rescue. The medical instructors have all co-operated in getting our students to email their reps to support HB 5129. Every letter counts. They are letting our reps know that they are skilled and prepared to use the training and education that they received. There is no liability or cost to the state of Connecticut.

    Calling all Medical Assistants to band together and write letters today in support of your future! To make this easy, you can find your local representative and sample letters here.

    Medical Assistants receive at least 60 hours of pharmacology training, which is equal to the syllabus of at least 2 LPN programs. The MA passes competencies set by a national board with a minimum score of 85. They pass a national exam for certification (CMA or RMA) which tests to knowledge in pharmacology. Our students are well educated, well trained, and certainly ready to take on this change to the scope of practice.

    Joanne Rodriguez is an Instructor for Ridley-Lowell’s Medical Assisting program and the incoming President of AAMA CT.  She teaches all of the clinical courses, anatomy & physiology, Medical Terminology and CPR/First Aid. Her medical career spans 20 years.  For more information about Ridley-Lowell’s Medical Assisting program, call 1-877-606-5325 or email us at

  • Screens and Scales - Episode 2: “There’s nothing here…it’s just a suit.”

    Ant-Man was AMAZING! (I spoilers!) One of my favorite scenes (which was used frequently in commercials) was the “break-in” scene. Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) breaks into Hank Pym’s (Michael Douglas) home to steal the Ant-Man suit. So, hypothetically, if Scott Lang had been caught after he stole the suit...what crimes would he be charged with?

    “Larceny,” the wrongful taking of someone else’s property with the intent of permanently depriving the owner of it, would be one of the charges as Scott stole Hank’s suit. “Theft” is the general Model Penal Code crime that combines various common law crimes (including larceny) into one. The definition of theft is the intent of depriving another person of the property that they have taken. So, depending on the laws the state has enacted, Scott would be charged with either larceny or theft.

    Next, the modern definition of “burglary” is knowingly entering or remaining unlawfully in a building with the intent to commit a crime therein. Since Scott entered Hank’s home with the intent of committing a larceny, it is very likely he would be charged with this crime as well. A few states use the old common law definition of burglary, which is the breaking and entering of someone else's dwelling at night with the intent to commit a felony therein. Given this more detailed definition, it would depend on whether the state classified the larceny/theft as a felony or misdemeanor crime.  Most states have switched to the modern definition, so we can assume that Scott would be charged with burglary.

    Lastly, “robbery” is the taking of property from either the victim’s person or immediate presence through the use of force or the threatened use of force. A key element is that the item must be taken from the person directly or in his/her presence. In our scenario, Scott breaks into Hank’s home with no one around, so he would not be charged with this crime. 

    Breaking into someone’s home to steal from that person can result in a multitude of charges against the thief. In Scott Lang’s instance, he would be charged with and most likely convicted of both larceny/theft and burglary.  

    *If you have questions about the above as it pertains to your specific circumstances, you should contact an experienced attorney to discuss your case.


    Jessica Reynolds is an Instructor for Ridley-Lowell’s Legal Assisting program.  Courses she teaches include litigation, criminal law & procedure, legal research and communication, and family law planning and probate. Her legal career spans more than 12 years in real estate, mortgages, divorce & family law, corporate compliance, case law research, and civil procedures. For more information contact


  • Massage Therapy EDU moment by Kelly McCaffrey, LMT

    Have you ever woken up in the morning and felt an area of your body that is tense, stiff or in pain? Your mind and body are saying “you again?” This is one example of chronic pain.

    There are many reasons that cause people to have chronic pain; car accidents, repetitive stress injuries, illness, poor posture habits and more. Many people live day in and day out trying to ignore the nagging tension in their neck or the ache in their low back. Massage can help.

    To understand pain in the body, let’s look at few things. What caused the pain (injury, trauma, illness)? When did the pain begin and how long have you felt it? Does the pain radiate? Or is the pain in a local area? What makes the pain better or worse?

    Now let’s think about how the body functions. The main goal of our body is to maintain a level of homeostasis (or a state of equilibrium of the body). Our body wants to run like a tight ship, engine humming, all the gears are oiled and it’s full steam ahead.

    When our nervous system receives a message of pain, we begin to slow the ship and look to the malfunction. The body will begin to tense its muscles of the surrounding area of pain, guarding and bracing the area in a defense mechanism. At first, pain is a positive warning, something isn’t functioning efficiently and you need to look at why.

    Then comes life…the kids, your career, the house, the laundry, etc. We ignore the warning and before you know it, you can’t turn your neck and you can’t stand up straight. Now your body has gotten your attention.

    So what now? Massage therapy is one of the leading therapies that will help with chronic pain or tension in the body. Massage therapy calms down the nervous system by increasing circulation of blood, decreasing muscles spasms, and helping with circulation of the lymphatic system. Another benefit is increasing the body mind connection, becoming aware of areas of tension and practicing on letting those areas release and let go of stress or tension.

    Therapeutic massage can be in the form of a 90 minute massage session down to a 10 minute chair massage. There are many types of therapeutic massage; Swedish, Deep Tissue, Orthopedic Massage, Acupressure and many more. Finding out the type of massage that works for you and the length of time needed is a discussion to have with a Licensed Massage Therapist. Developing a routine for receiving massage therapy on a regular basis will help keep chronic pain and tension at bay. This way you can keep your body in ship shape and ready for your daily journey in life.

  • By Lisa McPeak-Francis

    Many have asked me the question, “Why do we have career development courses at Ridley?” In the past, I've answered that question in several different ways. As I was walking through a supermarket recently, it occurred to me that career development courses are taught because packaging matters.

    We live in a consumer-driven society. When we shop, our decisions on what to purchase are driven by the products’ “complete package”.   As I stood in front of honey at the market, I was astounded by the variation in price. One jar was a whopping $58.99 for eight ounces.  Then, to my amazement, a gentleman who was also looking for honey, picked up that pricey jar of liquid gold and placed it in his basket. I sat there wondering how the company got him to buy the honey and the answer was clear – packaging. The jar was a beautiful glass bee shimmering in the light. It had keywords all over it including: no GMO, pure, 100% natural, unrefined, organic, etc.  He may have even heard from a friend that this was the best honey around.  Many elements come into play before we make our final decision on what to purchase. When the right packaging is missing, that wonderful product inside will not be bought.

    The same holds true for all employees heading out to look for jobs. If they do not know how to package themselves appropriately, they will not be able to sell their product. You can have all the skills in the world and be the perfect candidate for the job; if you can't sell your worth to an employer you will not get the opportunity to demonstrate your qualities.

    The focus of our career development courses at Ridley-Lowell is to show the student all the elements for effective marketing of their product – themselves. Students learn to build a resume that highlights their skills and capabilities, keeping in mind the keywords employers are looking for in the position. Potential employees also learn how to get word of mouth advertising for their product; we call this networking.  Students learn how to write a compelling cover letter that will help market their personal qualities and accomplishments even further. And of course, no employee gets a job without their final sale at the interview. We take the time to pull apart standard interview questions and find out what is it the employer is looking for and how to effectively answer a variety of questions.

    Circling back to answer that first question “Why do we have career development courses at Ridley?” The answer should now be clear. We want our highly skilled and trained graduates to be able to sell the skills they possess and become employed!

    Lisa McPeak Francis has been teaching general education classes for over a year. She was an elementary school teacher in Providence and worked for big non-profit organizations for years. For more information about Ridley-Lowell’s programs, call 1-877-606-5325 or email us at


  • Cosmetology EDU moment

    By Jennifer Ballard     

    Let’s talk about kids and haircuts.  Sometimes grooming our children is a tough challenge for hairdressers and parents alike. 

    First you want to take the time to work with a child to get to know their comfort level.  Keep in mind that they may be afraid of the cape that you pin on them, or frightened by the clippers and scissors that you are using.

    Sometimes you may get a parent who wants to help hold the child's head. Explain to the parent that this can be a more traumatic experience for the child and will make it more difficult for you to work. 

    Make this experience as fun as possible:

    1)    Have the parents sit in the waiting room. As hard as it may seem, it is sometimes the best option.  Children tend to be a little bit better when Moms or Dads aren't standing right near them and even out of sight.

    2) Make it quick. You need to be able to move swiftly because they don't sit still for very long.

    3) Tell the child what you are doing, even if they are too young to understand. This can be a learning experience for them as well.

    4) Show them all of the tools that you will be using and show them that they don't hurt.  My favorite is to tell the little kids that my thinning shears are my alligator scissors; after a few visits they’ll start to come in and ask for the alligator scissors!

    5) Keep a small toy nearby.  Giving them something to hold onto helps to keep them occupied. You can ask them to help in the process by giving them the spray water bottle to hold.

    6) If the parent approves, you can also give them a lollipop during the haircut. Yes they get a little sticky...but they sit very still and they concentrate on that lollipop.

    It is really about you taking the time out of your day to make them feel comfortable.  Always remember that your young clients grow up to become the junior prom, homecoming dances and weddings that you take care of.  Your services can become a family experience and there is nothing more gratifying then to be asked to do a child's first haircut!          

    J. Ballard has been working in beauty enhancement for 17 years and teaching cosmetology at Ridley-Lowell’s Beauty school in Binghamton since January 2015. She has worked at mostly higher-end private salons. Her favorite thing to do is to help her clients and students step out of the box, leading them to do something that they never thought they could do before. "Hair is an accessory, it's meant to be played with!"  For more information about Ridley-Lowell’s Cosmetology program, call 1-877-606-5325 or email us at