Adult students make the cut at CCIU barber program

Jessica Hernandez gives barbering instructor Drew Givler a haircut in the barbershop at TCHS Brandywine.

Jessica Hernandez gives barbering instructor Drew Givler a haircut in the barbershop at TCHS Brandywine.

DOWNINGTOWN — As Jessica Hernandez was browsing online for information about barbering certifications, she came across the Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU) barbering program for adults.

One of several adult education programs organized by the CCIU, the Brandywine Barber School operates inside the Technical College High School (TCHS) Brandywine Campus.

Hernandez, a woman in her mid-thirties with a teenage daughter at home, visited the campus in the fall and enrolled shortly thereafter as a full time student. Five months later she completed the program, becoming a licensed barber.

Before pursuing her barbering license, Hernandez spent the bulk of her career in the dental field, starting as a desk receptionist when she was 21. She learned many areas of dentistry, including dental assisting and marketing.

During that time she also became a professional make-up artist when she decided that it was time to do something for herself, now that her daughter was a little older. She enrolled in and earned her cosmetology license at Pulse Beauty Academy in Downingtown.

“I had a family when I was doing all this, plus work and school,” Hernandez says. “It was a lot to juggle, but I loved it.”

In time, however, she decided that cosmetology was not quite right for her. It turned out that barbering was a better fit for Hernandez, who only had to complete 695 hours of schooling to get her license. She was able to count 555 hours from her cosmetology studies towards her total of 1250 barbering hours.

Hernandez enjoyed many aspects of the adult education program, especially working with the teachers and other students.

Drew Givler, a local barbershop owner, teaches at TCHS Brandywine during the day, passing on the knowledge and wisdom he has gained from his own barbering business. Instructional assistant Amarleno Fields also owns his own barbershop and recently got his barbering teacher license.

“My favorite part of the whole program was actually just being able to come in and talk with Mr. Givler and Mr. Fields and get their pointers,” Hernandez says.

Hernandez, too, had the opportunity to share her experience with others. Learning alongside high school students in the TCHS Brandywine barbering classroom, she was seen as a leader in the class. Students consulted her and she was always more than happy to help guide them, based on her own experience in cosmetology in barbering. She enjoyed encouraging the younger students and reminding them that “to have a trade is the best thing you can do for yourself.”

Currently Hernandez works at Van Ryn’s Barber Shop located on Gay St. in West Chester. Recently promoted to full-time barber at the shop, she is optimistic about her future in the trade. “I didn’t think that in my thirties I would be where I am right now,” says Hernandez, “and I’m actually very excited with this new chapter of my life.”

The CCIU’s Brandywine Barber School for adult learners will begin enrolling again at TCHS Brandywine in the fall. If interested, contact Tedescha Short at 484-594-5950 or

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