Teacher Thinks His Students Are Looking “Scruffy” at Their Graduation – Gives Them All Free Haircuts in School

Teachers do so much more than create and execute lesson plans. They are also important figures in any child’s life. And while many of us don’t remember the minutia of what we learned in school, we remember those teachers who touched our hearts.

Enter Richmond, Virginia teacher Robert Dunham.

Preparing for Graduation

Facebook/Robert Reynolds-Dunham Jr.

In June 2019, Dunham was getting ready for work at Carver Elementary School. It was a big day for the fifth-grade teacher and his students: it was the day of the Moving On Ceremony. After that graduation ceremony, his students would leave for middle school and say goodbye to elementary.

As Dunham prepared to head out the door that morning, he stopped.

“I had a gut feeling some of my boys were going to come today and they were not going to be prepared,” Mr. Dunham told WTVR. “I remember my fifth grade Moving On Ceremony; something just said, ‘Take your clippers and put them in your bag.’”

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The teacher’s father had cut hair growing up, and Dunham had learned a thing or two about giving a fresh cut. Who knew that skill would come in handy on that particular day…

Feeling Their Best

man with a bunch of kids standing around him
Facebook/Robert Reynolds-Dunham Jr.

Before the ceremony began, Dunham realized that some of his students did indeed need his help. “One of my students showed up, and I said, ‘See I knew you were going to need a haircut,’” he recalled.

As the student sat down for a trim, others decided they wanted to get their hair cut as well. After a while, students from other classes heard about Mr. Dunham’s makeshift barbershop, and there was a lineup out the door.

“When I go to the barbershop, when I get a haircut, you feel good, you look good, you’ve got that confidence starting to come out of you,” Dunham explained. “I want every one of my students to be confident today. This is their special day.”

Caught in the Moment

Dunham’s practical thinking (and handy skills at cutting hair) also captured the hearts of his fellow teachers and administrators. Someone snapped a photo of the teacher giving a haircut and posted it on social media. Before long, the photo went viral.

“You should always be caught doing the right thing, at all times,” Dunham later said. “I’m just happy to be a part of that moment.”

The educator continued that his students may not remember the math and language he taught in life. But they will hopefully remember his kindness.

“If they don’t remember anything else about me, I always want them to remember that I was always there for them,” he added. “Being that positive male role model is something I take pride in every day.”

Leading With Kindness

three children wearing graduation caps
Photo by Yan Krukov

It’s so easy to get swept up in the business of life. We work hard to give our children memorable birthday parties and neat experiences. Over the holidays, we bake extra cookies and wrap presents until we’re overtired and our backs are sore.

Maybe it all makes us slightly bitter. But what Dunham is here to remind us all of is that it’s the feelings that kids remember most. Feelings of love and kindness are what last.

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So the next time you as a parent, educator, aunt, uncle, grandparent, or family friend, begin to feel stressed out over trying to create the perfect scenario or memory, think of Mr. Dunham.

As his simple act of kindness reminds us, the small moments count. Kindness, love, empathy, and understanding will always stand out above all else.

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