Remember the post a couple of months ago that featured the kindness of West Jackson’s barbers? Well, these guys have been busy! Since starting a Pecan Park Elementary, barbers have volunteered their time, talents, and treasures at Isabel Elementary and Barr Elementary. This past Monday, 9 barbers visited Barr Elementary.
Step inside Barr Elementary school, and the most prominent sign that you’ll see is addressed not to students, but to parents. “Parenting Counts” it says, followed by another sign that reads Parent Center.
Obviously parenting is important to the administration of this small school of 209 young minds. Ms. Nelson, the school’s principal, says that the staff has made a strong effort to involve parents in the happenings at Barr Elementary. The school has a parent coordinator that arranges semi-monthly meetings between parents and faculty. Oh, and remember that Parent Center that was mentioned earlier? It was created as a resource intended to help parents assist their children with homework assignments.
One parent, Ashley Smedley, was present Monday as barbers volunteered to give the boys at Barr fresh cuts for free. She sat with her son Damarcus–who anxiously swung his legs as he awaited his haircut. When asked her thoughts about Barr, she quickly responded with “I like the school. They care for the children here as well as the parents [care for them]…they always try to keep everybody involved.” She then went on to explain the meetings that the school has with parents every two weeks and the efforts of the schools PTA–which she said had great attendance from parents.
Soon, Damarcus was done with his haircut. He hopped out of the chair with the biggest smile on his face–one of 35 boys who received such an act of kindness from West Jackson’s barbers.
Principal Nelson also expressed her admiration with parents’ involvement. Attendance at PTA meetings has gone from an average of 15 parents to one of 50, and she says that the parents are always eager to help. The fact that Barr is the epitome of a neighborhood school also helps. The school, built in 1921 as the 2nd elementary school in West Jackson (Poindexter, built in 1900, was the first). Many students that attend Barr today get there just as students got there over 90 years ago–by foot! No buses deliver kids to school here, only parents who escort their children along the sidewalks or by car. The vast majority of the students live within 2 miles of the school. Once upon a time, there were neighborhood schools that made this feasible, and at Barr, that time is still now.
West Jackson resident Linda Liddell is still coordinating with this area’s elementary schools to ensure that students at a different school get to see the barbers once a month. In the meantime, the barbers are making plans to start a service-based organization called 100 Black Barbers. Their goal: mentoring and setting positive examples for young men. With over 130 free haircuts given to date, it looks like they have a great head start!
Students were required to present a signed permission slip from their parents to receive haircuts. Barber shops that participated in Monday’s event included Blessed Handz (1335 Ellis Ave.), Da Hair Show (3645 Metro Drive), Custom Cuts & Styles (2445 Terry Rd.). Barbers present but not representing a shop included Eugene Perkins and Carlos Johnson.