Topeka Barbers Encourage Boys to Read by Offering Free Haircuts

A few weeks ago, barbers across the country worked with a variety of different projects and organizations to help make sure that children in need would be able to have haircuts for the school year. Classes are now in session, but thanks to the work of a handful of barbers in Topeka, Kansas, boys are still receiving free haircuts right alongside their reading lessons.

Timothy Smith, community liaison for Ross Elementary School in Topeka, worked with local barbers to find creative ways to encourage boys to read.

“We’ve found that when it comes to reading, our boys are behind girls,” Smith said. Last summer, while thinking over this problem, Smith stopped to watch a news segment about a barber from Iowa. The barber gave free haircuts to boys who read to him as a way of encouraging them to read.

Smith figured if it works in Iowa, it could work just as well in Topeka. He called up several local barbers who were all too willing to work with the boys. One morning this month, the barbers went into the classrooms and started cutting. The boys read aloud, and while some complained that it was difficult reading in such an unusual setting, the event seemed to be successful.

“He kept telling me how awesome I was at reading,” said 11-year-old Dasanee Curry, excitingly showing off his fresh haircut. While it remains to be seen whether Smith’s haircut event will become a regular staple at the school it was certainly a creative learning experience.

Barber’s have long acted as community leaders, turning their shops into places for people to stay abreast of important local information and share opinions. Now, Smith’s event has shown that barbers can be leaders in the classroom too.


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