Cosmetology Instructor Electra Manley wears a silver dollar necklace to remind her of the lessons her late father Peter taught her.
Electra, Franklin County Technical School’s new Cosmetology instructor, comes from a strong Greek family where the value of hard work and pride in a job well done run deep. Her father, who came from Greece, died when Manley was 15, but the lessons he taught her live on in the way she lives her life and works with her students.
The owner of the Cheshire Spa, a restaurant in in Cheshire, Connecticut, Peter collected silver dollars and recorded in a book every tip he made in his restaurant. Electra said her father always appreciated the rewards of hard work.
“The first pair of shoes he had he wore to bed because he was so happy to have them,” Electra said. “I wear this silver dollar necklace to represent my father. It reminds me of the importance of hard work."
"I want to make the students feel good about themselves. It will give them the confidence to achieve the task at hand. It takes work to do this."
After two years of substitute teaching at FCTS, Electra was hired as a fulltime instructor this school year. At the same time she was substituting at the tech school, she worked as a nighttime instructor at the Marinello Beauty School in Northampton.
“I like teaching,” Electra said. “The youth you work with shows you can put a new twist on an old concept. I want to make the students feel good about themselves. It will give them the confidence to achieve the task at hand. It takes work to do this. I want to teach the students strong life skills and be a sounding board for them. I want to guide them.”
Electra grew up in Meriden, Connecticut, and graduated from Platt High School in 1977. Besides her father Peter, Electra’s mother Athena was a bookkeeper at her father’s business called Connecticut Wholesale Florist, which is now owned by her cousin. Electra has one sister, Nanessa.
"We have a bright future to generate more interest in the Cosmetology program."
"It was nice growing up in Meriden," she said. "There was a lot of family unity. It was a safe place to ride your bike and hang around the neighborhood. We were out playing until the streetlights came up."
Electra’s husband Tom is chief technology officer at Franklin Pierce College in Rindge, New Hampshire. Between the two of them they have six children and two grandchildren.
Electra first started working when she was 13 at her uncle’s restaurant the Cozy Corner in Astoria, Queens, New York, where she learned how to make change for customers. She then worked at the G. Fox coffee shop in Hartford when she was 14.
Following high school, Electra attended the Wilfred Academy in New York City and Connecticut. After graduation in 1980, she moved to Troy, in upstate New York to attend Hudson Valley Community College.
After leaving Hudson Valley Community College, Electra worked with a friend who owned a salon in Wethersfield, Connecticut. She then moved back to New York State and got a job at a high end salon called Jean Paul Salon and Spa in Colonie, where she stayed for 10 years working as senior stylist and master colorist.
"After I left Jean Paul’s, I rented a chair at Chameleon Studio in Latham (New York)," Electra said. “Then I taught at the Orlo School of Hair Design in Albany for six years."
Cosmetology has allowed Electra to take classes in places like New York City and Italy to further her career. She’s attended the National Association of Accredited Cosmetology School and taken classes with Milady, which provides textbooks and other educational resources to the cosmetology industry, as well as online courses in licensing preparation.
When she first came FCTS, Electra was pleased to find that the school was “friendly and welcoming.” She knew then that she would enjoy working in that environment.
"Everybody has a positive attitude," Electra said. "The parts make up the whole. I love working with Lynn (Wiles). We have a bright future to generate more interest in the Cosmetology program."
"Working hard and persevering are the keys to success, and if you keep doing these things it will pay off. I was raised that way, and I’ve always worked that way."
Ultimately, Electra would like to pass onto her students some of the strong values she learned from her parents.
"I’ve worked hard since I was 14,” she said. “Working hard and persevering are the keys to success, and if you keep doing these things it will pay off. I was raised that way, and I’ve always worked that way."