This Is Carolina: Students get an edge up on barbering

“It’s something that I can actually enjoy,”
Published: Nov. 17, 2022 at 6:29 PM EST
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CONWAY, S.C. (WMBF) - From shearing to fading, students can learn it all at the Academy for Technology and Academics.

The barbering class made the cut this year as a new two-year program for students aspiring to be barbers, like 16-year-old Ray Carmichael.

“When I saw there was an opportunity to do barbershop in school, I thought it would be a great idea. Mostly, because I get to meet new people, learn something new and you get the opportunity to have a job once you get out of high school,” said Carmichael.

Carmichael is part of a hand-selected class of juniors and seniors learning the tricks of the trade.

“We get to learn different things about haircuts and the procedures that we have to do for them. And, it’s like a really active and fun class to be in,” he said. “You also get a free haircut too so that’s a benefit.”

The students split their time between books and bibs to cut each other’s hair in their makeshift barber shop called, Snippetz at ATA.

“Being able to come into the lab and do haircuts with my classmates and on my classmates, and then having clients come in, it’s amazing,” said 17-year-old Mikayla Lewis.

Lewis always wanted to be a barber, but having the opportunity for hands-on training is what she said sealed the deal.

“Something clicked when I got in here and started actually touching the clippers and cutting hair. This is what I want to do,” said Lewis. “If one day I can open up my own shop, I will, because this is exactly where I want to be and this is the environment I want to be in.”

This class is more than just hairlines tacked up on walls and display mannequins ready to be trimmed, it’s a camaraderie among classmates.

“I like how all of us can bond over a common interest and that we all came from different walks of life and different places. And we all ended up in the same class,” said Morgan O’Neal.

O’Neal, 16, said she’s not only learned from her peers but from her instructor who made it all happen.

“I always admire how good he is with the clippers and stuff. I aspire to be him. He’s a very good motivator and I look up to him,” she said.

Scott Toomer owns the Headz Up Cutz & Stylez in Conway and also teaches on-the-job training, but it’s his first time teaching kids.

“A lot of them didn’t know how to hold clippers. They didn’t know how to turn them on. So, just to see this progress now where they’re actually doing work on their peers, it really does something good to me,” said Toomer. “It makes me feel accomplished like things are going in the right direction. So, it makes me feel really good.”

His students said he’s razor-sharp when it comes to teaching. He is preparing them for the state board exam so they can trade in their practice chairs for real ones.

“They’ll leave here with their barber’s license, master haircare license and they can go straight to the shop and start working,” he said.

Toomer said he’s striving to teach his students how to be professional, comfortable and to be themselves. And, if you ask these students, they would say they were already there.

“This is the only thing I could see myself going into work every day and don’t feel like a job. It’s something that I can actually enjoy,” said O’Neal.

If you’d like to apply for the program, call the Academy for Technology and Academics. If you’d like to schedule a hair appointment you can email Scott Toomer at