Elizabeth Arden Creates Vast Array of Programs for PENCIL Partner High School of Public Service
No two PENCIL Partnerships are alike: each is customized on a school-by-school basis to meet unique school needs.
Some PENCIL Partners tackle one issue at a time. Others, like Elizabeth Arden, have a broader focus.
Working with new principal Sean Rice at the High School for Public Service: Heroes of Tomorrow, a team of Elizabeth Arden employees have teamed up to expand what the school can do for its students, and to help school leadership strategically build a stronger school culture—one that will make a good school great.
“Service in general and education in particular are both priorities for Elizabeth Arden,” said E. Scott Beattie, a PENCIL Board Member and Elizabeth Arden’s Chairman, President, and CEO. “Our work with the High School for Public Service (HSPS) represents a cross-functional effort by our staff to do the most good in a school that needs—and deserves—our help.”
“This relationship dramatically helped our school,” said former principal Ben Shuldiner. “By committing their time, talent, intellectual capital and resources to HSPS, Elizabeth Arden helped us strengthen what we could do as educators, and what we could offer students. Their involvement translates to expanded learning opportunities, career mentoring, exposure to math in the workplace, better student performance, and improved all-around school culture.”
We’re thrilled to look at every aspect of HSPS’ PENCIL Partnership with Elizabeth Arden, and to examine how all of their work together has transformed the school.
Skin treatments and skin in the game
“We have deep respect and awareness of what public education does,” said Francine Gingras, Elizabeth Arden’s Vice President of Global Public Relations. Gingras explained that when HSPS leadership and the Elizabeth Arden team began planning their work, they all agreed that “the partnership needed to be good for everyone, or it wouldn’t be good for anyone.”
The Partnership is good for everyone because it finds ways to change school-wide culture: working with school leadership, Elizabeth Arden created a staff appreciation day for the teachers and donated cosmetics to express their gratitude for the staff’s important work.
Small gestures like these can make a tremendous impact: by helping school leadership set, refine, and establish strong organizational culture, schools often see higher attendance and application rates, longer staff retention, and better student performance.
Elizabeth Arden even helped the school replace its air conditioning, which can make all the difference helping students focus in class. And Elizabeth Arden made other important investments that helped improve the school’s entire culture: after budget cuts forced HSPS to scale back its language program, Elizabeth Arden helped bring Rosetta Stone to the school by calling the language software provider and demonstrating their own commitment to HSPS.
“Because we’re a corporate partner calling Rosetta Stone on the school’s behalf, it said: ‘We’ve got skin in the game here, we’re doing our share,’” Gingras said.
You can learn a whole lot from product packaging.
That’s how Liz Falconer, Elizabeth Arden’s Vice President of Trade Marketing, begins one of her monthly mentoring sessions with 13 HSPS students.
Discussing different careers and the foundational skills needed to find a job (like resumé writing and interviewing), Falconer uses packaging to illustrate the many jobs that go into making a box.
“We look at the carton, and we talk about every single person who’s involved,” Falconer said. “I say: look at this—do you see the [brand] name? Someone had to pick what font that is, what type it is, what color it is. You see this little copyright line? It had to go to Legal, and Regulatory, and Product Development.”
“Sometimes someone says to themselves: ‘I could do that,’” Falconer said. She added that her monthly mentoring sessions have a very simple goal: “The whole purpose is just to expose the students to things, and get them to see possibilities. They’re just so hungry for information, and it makes them feel part of something bigger.”
Apart from teaching the students about something beyond their normal experience, Falconer also credits her relationship with the HSPS students for providing her with a wider perspective.
“I think schools and students are everyone’s responsibility and everyone’s future. You can be involved. You can contribute positively. Or you can not be involved and you can complain. Clearly, there’s a better choice.”
“It’s math problems, but it’s bigger than that”
While Liz Falconer travels to the Prospect-Lefferts Gardens neighborhood in Brooklyn to meet with HSPS students, Pierre Pirrard brings students to Elizabeth Arden’s Union Square offices.
There, Pirrard, the Executive Vice President, Product Innovation & Global Supply Chain, helps students with their math and algebra.
Working with the students in small groups on their homework and preparing them for quizzes, Pierre said that the students “get more focused coaching. I think it helps them unlock their understanding of certain problems.”
Students agree: one said that in Pierre’s tutoring sessions they can “find our weaknesses and strengths. We work on problems that we understand and don’t understand.”
Another student said that, unlike in her larger class, with Pirrard the group could “break it down. We get down to the nitty-gritty stuff.”
And although factoring polynomials and balancing equations is important work—“Math is so critical to get to college and beyond,” Pirrard said—the students are getting much more than just a STEM education.
“I think it’s less about the math coaching or tutoring for certain kids than it is for them to come to this office and experience a different culture, a different environment,” Pirrard said. “I think it’s good for them. I think it’s very refreshing.”
“It’s math problems, but it’s bigger than that,” agreed Christina Marrone, an Elizabeth Arden Scientist working in Skincare Product Development, who also tutors the HSPS students.
Like Pirrard, Marrone feels that some of the lessons that Elizabeth Arden teaches extend beyond the classroom: “I think the main issue that I’ve seen is self-confidence,” Marrone said, saying that it’s particularly a problem for the group’s girls.
“There are girls who hold back, and I can see that they’re waiting for me rather than trying it out on their own.”
Discussing the progress that she’s made, Marrone said that “I see a little more confidence…I’ve seen one student improve. She used to be one of the more quiet ones at the beginning…But I’ve seen her get more comfortable with me and get more comfortable saying the answer.”
Pierre stays involved because of improvements like that, and because, as he says: “It’s at least a small way to give back to a community that frankly needs help and support.”
“Programs with a purpose”
“At the end of the day, the programs that we settled in on were authentic to Elizabeth Arden and The High School For Public Service,” Beattie said.
“They weren’t feel-good programs, and we didn’t take them on to feel better about ourselves. They were programs with a purpose—and it’s been truly meaningful to watch them deliver.”