Life Laboratory Course

source Each of La Belle’s Adopted Schools, SB Junior High, La Colina Jr. High, Goleta Valley Junior High & La Cumbre Middle School, received a ten week self-esteem course, Life Laboratory, for 50 students (male & female) every semester. Continuity was established through the SELF-Club that was open to those who had completed the La Belle training. Teachers and staff select the students and the schools provided the facilities for the program.


La Belle Foundation’s self-esteem training has as its objective to bring the teaching of self-esteem, self-development and personal and social responsibility to public school students without charge. The training is based on La Belle Professional Training School’s experience (1963-1991) in training students to overcome some of the more unfortunate aspects of adolescence; feelings of ineptness, unattractiveness and insignificance.


La Belle Foundation was created in 1980 and incorporated in 1981 by its current Executive Director, Betty Hatch, as a not for profit, tax exempt corporation (#95-3641171). Self-Esteem training was given to approximately 3500 students in four Santa Barbara, CA junior high schools between 1986 and 2001.


In order to increase our funding, a short video was developed in 1996. One of the graduates begins the video by discussing her training at an Industry Education Council meeting. She is asked about the results of low self-esteem. The video gives a short visual of the training and the graduation.

Course Length & Student Number

The foundation’s two hour & 15 min. (2:45 to 5 P.M.) ten week, after school training was given to 50 junior high male & female students selected by teachers and staff. The students were not required to take the training, however all those who were invited have wanted to do so. Students were selected on the basis of their need for this type of training, their desire to take the course and/or as a reward for being leaders and positive role models. In other words a diverse group of students, who represent the student population of the school, were selected.

Why It Works

Self-esteem, as defined by the National Association for Self-esteem, is the experience of being capable of meeting life’s challenges and being worthy of happiness. This course is an experiential training in the basic skills of meeting life’s challenges and gives each student a true sense of self worth.

The Course

Most junior high students are more aware of their body than of their mind or soul. Our training works from the outside in. We teach students to care for their body first. They are taught proper diet and exercise, grooming, hand, nail, skin and hair care, posture and carriage and appropriate dress selec-tion for the activities in their lives. While working with their bodies, we are also working on professionalism.

We insist on prompt weekly attendance, and self-discipline. We demonstrate positive attitudes, commitment, and caring. Students are taught the importance of making the right choices, showing respect for themselves and others, telling the truth and taking responsibility for their lives. Encouragement, praise, and enthusiasm abound.

We tie the excitement and glamour of modeling and acting to the need for an excellent ability to communicate, to be well organized and prepared, to have outstanding job interview skills and to the importance of developing relationship skills. Goal setting is taught at every class with students setting their physical, performance and personality goals weekly in writing. Acknowledgment and rewards are a major part of the training with emphasis on accountability and integrity.

A final show is held the tenth week of training with family, friends, and school personnel in attendance in the school auditorium (courses are taught at the schools). Male and female students present themselves on a runway twice–dressed for school and in an outfit appropriate for a job interview. They tell what difference the training has made in their lives and what presentation, academic and relationship goals they have reached.


This training opens up opportunities for children who have never experienced a sense of self-worth and permits them to enter adulthood with a feeling of confidence in themselves, their occupations, their health and their relationships with others. Such confidence shows in appearance, speech, movement, and behavior.


Students receive the course for free. Currently the cost of instruction for teachers and supplies including handouts, workbooks, secretarial support, and perfect attendance certificates is $100 per student. We receive cosmetic and sundry donations from local businesses that are used as incentives and awards. All guest speakers donate their time.

Current Project

Our goal is to put this course on LIVE TV so that every young person and parent can observe and learn the techniques taught. This is an innovative and new approach to getting the attention of all our community’s youth in order to prepare them for their life’s work.

Project Benefits

go here Students’ Benefits

      • Students will watch because they want to see their peers; and learn while watching.
      • Students will be learning during the afternoon rather than being on the streets.
      • The course will always be new, timely, and interesting because it is live.
      • The best teachers Santa Barbara has to offer will inspire the students.
      • Students will see their peers become role models.
      • Students could be trained to help film the course and learn the trade while they experience the training.

click here TV Station’s Benefits

      • Station will be able to document the difference they are making in students’ lives.
      • Station will have increased community and student viewing audience.
      • Station will have the opportunity of creating a community service that has not been done before.