It's a fact. Back-to-school is not only about the kids returning to the classroom after summer vacay. Teachers must re-enter the academic stratosphere as well, and just like the students, they want to look fresh, fab and fashionable.
We found this to be overwhelmingly true when we put out an all-call for teachers willing to participate in a makeover. We got hundreds of applicants, including one from the entire faculty of a small school. (We were sad to have to pass that one up!)
Teachers were nominated by friends, family and themselves. Some had shed weight, and there were a couple of new moms. Many veteran teachers were trying to stay current. "I am able to keep the young attitude in my heart and would also like to keep the young attitude in my wardrobe," wrote one.
But, alas we could only pick three.
So how did it go? Makeovers aren't born in a day. First up, a lengthy stint at nuBest Salon and Spa in Manhasset, where two of our three teachers made serious changes to their hair -- oh the drama. Next, a daylong shoot at the Newsday studio, where an army of makeup artists, hair stylists, fashion stylists, and photographers converged upon our teachers.
Final report card? A+ on all counts.
Linda Beyer, special education chair, Samoset Middle School, Sachem
"Please Newsday, Mrs. Beyer is stuck in the '70s, she needs to learn to let go of her long, outdated hair," wrote co-worker Ellen Rafferty, who nominated Beyer. "She looks exactly the same as she did in high school."
Beyer was all for it. "I know nothing about makeup and all I know about hair is how to grow it, and I haven't shopped in 10 years," said Beyer, who prefers not to give her age. She says a makeover has long been a goal. "I've always watched 'What Not to Wear,' and hoped someone would take the raw potential and do what needs to be done."
Lesson plan:: Tame the mane, and teach the teacher how to wear modern silhouettes and prints to flatter her figure.
Cutting class: Was Beyer happy when nuBest creative director Jamie Mazzei lopped off eight inches of her hair? Um, not so much, though she felt good about donating it to Pantene's Beautiful Lengths program to make wigs for women fighting cancer. NuBest color director Christian Fleres corrected her too-black home dye job with a softer chocolate shade that covered the gray. We tried to convince her that she looked wonderful, but to no avail. So we speed dialed Clinton Kelly, the makeover maven at "What Not to Wear," who backed us up. "She literally looks 25 years younger," he said. "Before, she looked a little like a kooky, crunchy teacher, and now she looks like a gorgeous, sassy woman."
Homework: "Well, I got right on the homework, because I stopped at the Deer Park outlets and bought five new dresses right after the shoot," said Beyer. "This was the highlight of my summer. I have to realize that I am a girl and I have to put on makeup. It was absolutely a learning experience; the bar is going to be raised. I've taken this all to heart."
Carol Copper, language arts teacher, Uniondale High School
"I'm in a rut fashion-wise," said Copper, who nominated herself because she recently hit the big 5-0, and at just 5 feet tall has trouble finding clothes and styles that work for her. "I have 18 pairs of black pants; I'm short and nothing fits correctly. I've been teaching a long time, and I think I can learn something new about myself."
Lesson plan: Introduce color, shapes and prints (and even a dress!!) to Copper's bland wardrobe -- and teach her a few makeup tricks.
Cutting class: Copper didn't want to cut her hair, and it only took minutes for a stylist to sweep her ruby dreadlocks into a fun bun. So it was makeup that wowed, as Copper learned how to strengthen her too-thin brows and amp up her wonderful smile.
Homework: "I've changed the lens I look at myself through," said Copper, who went home from the shoot and cleaned her closet, including getting rid of 10 pairs of those ill-fitting black pants. She also went shopping, purchasing the animal print dress at H&M, slim pants at Banana Republic, two skirts, and a purple dress, which she says, "I would have never worn before."
Michelle Crennan, health and physical education teacher, Roslyn Middle School
Her academic attire "is made up of sneakers and sweatsuits," wrote Crennan's aunt, Terry Weber, in her nominating letter.
Crennan, 33, who also coaches soccer, bowling and lacrosse, admits that there's a fine line between "looking like a professional and looking like you rolled out of bed." Crennan also owns up to not wearing makeup and wearing things that are too big.
Lesson plan: Give Crennan the confidence to stand out rather than blend in with a brighter hairdo and a slimmer, more fashionable activewear look for on and off the field.
Cutting class: Mazzei trimmed and layered Crennan's hair for extra volume, while Fleres added pizzazz by highlighting and lightening the ends for a sun-kissed effect.
Homework: "I definitely will update my wardrobe with clothes that are trendier and more flattering when I do my back-to-school shopping," said Crennan.