Empire Chenoweth Educator Wanda Ross: A Beacon of Inspiration

by Courtney Weikel

Empire Chenoweth Educator, Wanda Ross, is still going strong at the age of 77, with an impressive teaching career spanning over 33 years. Ross is a beacon of inspiration to her students and co-workers, exemplifying the core values of Empire Beauty School.

Michael Rondinelli, Educator Support Director, emphasizes Ross’s impact.  

Ms. Wanda is someone who educates, instructs, inspires, and shows the correct path to another person through her past experiences. She has always been a role model to me. The one thing about Wanda that has always been an attraction to me and still today as it was when I started teaching 20 years ago was her compassion for each student as a person. She also exhibited this same compassion for all of her co-workers. Still today, Wanda’s energy and enthusiasm is a goal that I always try to reach and sustain in my career. I am proud to have Wanda as a coworker and most of all as a friend.

Ross’s hard work and determination are demonstrated through her years of working two jobs in separate industries, while still being a true standout in her field. She pursued her passion and is proud to still be teaching. Ross cherishes having a career that makes her want to wake up and do what she loves. 

When I was little, I would stand on a box and do my mom’s hair. It’s always been my love to do hair. I graduated cosmetology school in 1972 and I did hair for a little while. Then I got hired at General Electric in the accounting department. I loved doing hair but I also loved my job at GE. I thought I could do both, and I did. I had 34 years at GE and worked the night shift at Empire for 33 years. I guess you could call me a workaholic. I love it and I love my students. 

The greatest reward for an educator is seeing their students succeed and surpass their accomplishments. As an educator, your goal is to have your students achieve their fullest potential while you provide an exceptional learning experience. 

What I love most is seeing these students succeed. We have had a lot of students come back that have left and done great things. We have platform artists and makeup artists, and it makes my heart melt. We provide the basics, it is up to them to continue. It is amazing what they can do if they want to. When I see students teaching, owning salons, and seeing them succeed, it makes me proud. You get close to your students. You get all kinds of students, some don’t get the encouragement so we have to be encouraging to them. They thrive on it. You have to be able to be ready for whatever comes your way. I see my students posting about the styles they are doing and it makes me so proud to have been a part of that. I receive emails thanking me for helping them. It makes you feel like you have done something worthwhile. It was worth all the work I put into it. It isn’t always easy being an educator, but the reward is worth it. 

Once a student graduates from their program, our Empire Team never forgets about them. Ross thinks back on when her students left her a thoughtful gift. 

I once had a group of students in my pre-salon class make a scrapbook for me once they left. They added in notes and it meant so much to me. It’s the little things that mean a lot. It makes you feel so good that what you’ve been through has been worth every minute of it. I love this school and as long as I can stay, I will. I know I’m getting older, but I don’t feel it. The students make me feel young. 

Empire Beauty School is proud to have dedicated individuals that train our future beauty professionals. It is with their support, we can provide a high-quality education for the next generation. Empire offers endless support in supplying the materials needed to be successful. 

When I started school, they didn’t have the education they have now. Empire cares about the education part. I enjoyed all my years here, I’ve had a lot of great mentors in my time. I worked with amazing people. I feel like we offer a variety for our students. I am proud to work at Empire, that’s why I haven’t gone anywhere else. They have a really good continuing education. I’ve been to other schools but this one offers more than the others. I always loved this school, this is my home. I won Regional Educator of The Year and I won Educator of the Quarter three times. There are so many opportunities out there for us to continue our education. It is amazing what they offer. 

Ross believes her students keep her young, and she is still fully capable of doing the things she loves which proves that age is just a number. 

Everyone asks me when I will retire. After retiring from General Electric, Empire hired me full-time. I love doing this, I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. I have no kids of my own, but I love these kids and I love seeing them succeed. It makes my heart melt when I see them come back to teach classes. They will tell me I taught their moms and it makes me feel old. 

It’s not always easy, you have your ups and downs, but I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. It’s my first love and I love Empire. The day I initially retired from Empire, they asked me if I would be a substitute. I have no plans on retiring soon.

Thank you Wanda Ross for your 30+ years of educating at Empire Beauty School. It is an honor to have your level of expertise as a member of our Empire Family. 

For more information about Empire Beauty School, or how to enroll visit https://bit.ly/LearnMoreAtEmpire

August 23, 2023

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