“She Meets Them Where They Are”: Meet Gadsden Instructor Johnalyn Head

“She’s an asset,” says Deputy Warden of Programs Tira Jackson. “She’s definitely an asset to MTC and Gadsden.”

Johnalyn Head is the cosmetology instructor at the Gadsden Correctional Facility in Quincy, FL. The program she teaches becomes a passion for many of the residents who enroll – a passion she is more than happy to share with them.

“When a student first arrives to the class, usually they’re timid, shy, kind of hesitant,” Johnalyn says. “By the time – I would say six to seven months in – they’ve completely changed. For some, their skill set has changed. Just their attitude. You can see those that really want it, and they’re really ready to go out and do it.”

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Johnalyn Head with students.

Residents who successfully complete the cosmetology course will receive a license and can go to work immediately upon release. Even at that point, Johnalyn continues to assist them.

“They leave here and they still call her back wanting her encouragement, wanting her-’What do you think?’, ‘What do you think I should do?’ – her advice of things,” Tira says. “And it’s all because of the respect that she gains, that gave them, and what they gave her. So, she’s a gem. She is a gem.”

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Johnalyn Head with her class.

For Johnalyn, teaching cosmetology at Gadsden is merely an extension of what she does in her personal life. She continues to put in time in a nearby salon, and she also recently put in a whole lot of effort in developing her very own hair product.

“I was able to develop a product. It’s a curl enhancer, but it’s also it can be used as a smoothing cream, and it’s like a detangler as well, too, so it has a lot of different uses.”

As the popularity of Johnalyn’s new product continues to grow, she remains grounded in the mission she believes in so strongly as she touches the lives of women within her influence.

“It’s unbelievable,” says Tira. “The myriad of ladies that pass through cosmetology, and the lives that she touches, and how they connect with her, and how she connects with them. She meets them where they are, I’ll put it that way. She’s very authentic. She’s very sincere in her passion for teaching the ladies the craft.”

“I know that it’s working and that there’s a need,” Johnalyn affirms. “And as long as there’s a need, we want to make sure that we’re able to meet it.”