Whether you’re looking for improved etiquette, for professional development or to boost self-esteem, you’ll find all these opportunities and many more at Avenues of Excellence, an etiquette and finishing school based right here in Coral Gables.
An etiquette and finishing school is a program that teaches children and adults how to behave properly, converse intelligently and otherwise act with decorum in society. Since 2009, Miami has had its very own etiquette and finishing school in the form of Avenues of Excellence, and it has evolved to mean so much more — not only to its students but also to the South Florida community.
A Vision Brought to Life
When you speak with Rose Hedgemond, founder of Avenues of Excellence, it’s clear that she is extremely passionate about what she does. This passion has led her on many adventures in life, including being a wife, mom, veteran of the U.S. Navy, a Fortune 500 insurance company executive, a graduate of the prestigious Protocol School of Washington and an author of the children’s book Father-Daughter Dance: A Night on the Red Carpet. Her expert advice has also been featured on several media outlets. But she sees her work with Avenues of Excellence as the culmination of her devotion to the community and the people within it.
“It’s a fact in today’s modern-day, technology-driven environment that understanding the importance of social graces is huge,” says Hedgemond. “For example, let’s look at all our music and performing arts centers we have right here in Miami. It’s important to know how to conduct oneself in such settings.”
Once people understand the importance of grace, manners and conversation, Hedgemond says that the world can begin to open up for them in ways that it hasn’t before. “Miami is an international hub. South Florida has dignitaries, diplomats, leaders of foreign nations and others who visit our city consistently or live here,” she says. “This is where protocol and etiquette cross lines and understanding the two becomes imperative. Understanding how to respect diverse cultures is key and a huge business advantage.”
What Avenues Offers
In terms of opportunities available to learn with Avenues of Excellence, the options are multiple and varied. “We provide classes such as adult etiquette, etiquette for leading ladies, young adult classes, youth etiquette classes, a business etiquette program, customer service training program, executive assistant coaching program and more,” says Hedgemond. “We provide private one-on-one etiquette classes as well. If there’s a desire to learn how to apply advanced social training in a specific private or professional setting, that’s what we do.”
Hedgemond credits her incredible team and community partners for helping her launch the formal Finishing School Program of Excellence for youth and adults, operated from two locations: The Ritz-Carlton and The Biltmore hotel properties.
Etiquette as Community Service
As Hedgemond has seen children learn and grow through Avenues of Excellence programs over the years, she has realized that it’s about more than just manners and decorum. For many children, it’s about boosting self-esteem, creating opportunities, improving their conduct in school and giving them a leg up in life. For adults, Hedgemond says that etiquette training can give them a boost in their businesses and other social settings as well.
“There was one mom who was so elated with the work we did with her daughter that in the middle of a forum, the mom said, ‘I wish I had you when I was growing up. I wish I knew how to apply social graces in a strategic manner to advance myself and help me communicate better,’” says Hedgemond. “Through our training, her daughter had really improved significantly — not just socially but with her overall self-esteem, respect and outlook on life.”
The Father-Daughter Gala
Each year, Avenues of Excellence brings the community together with their Father-Daughter Gala. “I can teach a daughter etiquette. I can teach a daughter how to be a young lady and present herself in a polished, poised and powerful manner. However, to have a father (father figure, mother, mentor or role model) to affirm this is priceless,” says Hedgemond. “To open the car door. To pull out the chair. It’s not that ladies are unable to open their own door or pull out their own chair … it’s about affirming the value in the girl. The woman. You take care of what you value.”
This year’s event will be on Saturday, October 8, from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Coral Gables. Tickets are going fast, but you can still reserve seats using the contact information listed below — and there is a big surprise planned for guests!
“This came about after seeing a huge deficit, a need in various communities, no matter what their economic situation is,” says Hedgemond. “This is an event for anyone interested in teaching and educating their daughters to be respected and treated well, both in their personal relationships and in their professional lives.”
Avenues of Excellence is located at 1 Alhambra Plaza in Coral Gables. Visit avenuesofexcellence.com to learn more, volunteer or buy tickets for the Father-Daughter Gala, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 786.749.2276.