Selah Spencer, a senior at TEC at Bryant, has learned to translate her artistic skills into the field of cosmetology, including coloring and cutting hair.
Spencer, who has lived in the same house her whole life, has been attending TEC since she first started school. Her two older siblings had terrible experiences in public schools and her parents enrolled Spencer and her younger sister into the alternative K-12 school at the beginning of their education in an effort to avoid problems, Spencer said.
Spencer said she’s formed strong friendships at the school. “I really like how small it is,” she said. “It’s really easy to know everyone.”
Despite loving the school, Spencer wishes it offered electives like drama and choir and extracurricular activities like basketball. Some of those classes were available at the elementary and/or middle school level, but not high school. “They don’t have a lot of extracurricular options,” she said.
When she started her junior year, she began spending half a day at the NEWTech Skills Center, where she flourished in the cosmetology program. It was a natural extension of her love of all things beauty that she’d had since she was little.
“I liked messing around with my dolls,” she said. “I can’t tell you how many times I put food dye in their hair.”
She was also creative in other areas, making clay pottery, crocheting and painting. “I just like doing things with my hands,” she said. “I’m just generally a very creative person,” she said.
Since she started at NEWTech she’s learned all about haircuts, styles, coloring, perms and relaxers. Her favorite aspect is coloring hair because it’s fun to play around with different colors, Spencer said. “I’m using the proper hair dye now,” she said.
She also found other ways to be involved in her community. Before the pandemic she spent a lot of time volunteering through Holy Cross Lutheran Church, including packing food for those in need. She’s also a member of the Spokane Public Schools Student Advisory Board, where students can give input on issues like the budget and school programs.
Spencer said she likes the idea of the Student Advisory Board but said that at times it feels like the students are asked for their opinion but are not listened to. “I feel like I haven’t seen a lot of actual changes,” she said.
Counselor Sara Duval said Spencer is a top cosmetology student who takes pride in her work. “Cosmetology is an artistic outlet for her and she shines,” she said. “The resounding theme in all that she does is she is a leader,” Duval said. “She leads by example but is not afraid to share her thoughts. Watching her grow into an amazing leader and young adult has been my privilege.”
After she graduates she plans to complete the cosmetology program at the Glen Dow Academy so she can get her license and begin working at a local salon.