Elementary School Principal Bonds With Students During Haircuts There is a special relationship between a barber and a client. Principal Terrance Newton tries to create that same bond with his students at Warner Elementary School in Wilmington, Delaware.
NPR logo

Elementary School Principal Bonds With Students During Haircuts

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/810268990/810268991" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Elementary School Principal Bonds With Students During Haircuts

Elementary School Principal Bonds With Students During Haircuts

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/810268990/810268991" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

You could almost think of the principal at a school in Wilmington, Del., as having a side hustle cutting hair. It's not truly a side hustle, though, since Terrance Newton is not doing this for the money. He's doing it for the kids. About 15 years ago, he says, when he was a teacher, he had trouble connecting with a kid in class.

TERRANCE NEWTON: I had a student who needed a haircut, other students was making fun of him, parents couldn't afford to get his hair cut, so he kind of shut down.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

He needed a way to get in this kid's head, and so he started with his hair.

NEWTON: I just had a little experience from cutting hair, like, cutting my little brother's hair. So I brought my clippers in one day, had him in my classroom, gave him a haircut. You had to see the biggest smile on his face when he came to school the next day. And so his interaction levels was totally different.

INSKEEP: That experience stayed with Newton when he became principal at Warner High School (ph) about a year ago. He noticed that a lot of kids seemed disconnected and had low confidence.

NEWTON: Last year, we had 192 suspensions, and out of the 192, I looked at the data - it was, like, pretty much all our male students.

GREENE: Mostly from low-income families.

NEWTON: And I noticed that they didn't have haircuts.

GREENE: So Principal Newton started a makeshift barbershop at the school.

NEWTON: A friend of mine had a barber chair. She donated a barber chair to me - and just started fixing up a little room. I put a TV in there. And I'd bring them together. I cut their hair and then we talk. I mean, it just kind of built that bond, built that relationship, kind of using that time to tell them my expectations, just using that time to collaborate.

GREENE: That barbershop was a hit.

NEWTON: The word was out. Mr. Newton can cut hair. Oh, my God. He can cut hair. And when the kids seen it, oh, that's a good job. That's a good job. So I was able to use that to kind of connect with kids.

INSKEEP: Principal Newton says he's not done yet. His goal for next year is blazers and ties.

Copyright © 2020 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.