Photos of an Indiana middle school principal have blown up on the internet after he took hair clippers to a student’s head when the boy refused to take off his hat — and the attention is entirely justified.
When an eighth-grade student at Stonybrook Intermediate and Middle School wouldn’t remove his beanie in class, he was promptly sent to the principal’s office for refusing to comply with the dress code. The boy broke down while talking with principal Jason Smith and explained his embarrassment over his crooked hairline.
“I sat down with him and asked him why and what was going on. He said he just got his haircut and didn’t like the way it looked. He thought his hairline looked a little funny,” Smith said.
The boy insisted that he didn’t want to return to class without something covering his head. Unwilling to allow the student to break the rules, principal Smith was determined to get the student back into class by whatever means were necessary. It was then that the educator made a decision most school officials wouldn’t dream of doing.
Smith promptly headed off-campus to his home to grab his electric clippers and hastily returned to the school. He then sat the boy down in an office chair and went to work lining the child’s hair so that he would no longer be humiliated by his haircut, according to WRTV.
Although the principal thought the boy’s hair looked fine, he also knows that self-confidence is a game-changer for students and that kids can be rather cruel when they discover a peer’s insecurity. As such, he touched up the boy’s line, giving him a boost of confidence along with a new cut.
“I’ve been cutting hair most of my life. I played college basketball cut my teammates’ hair before games, and I’ve been cutting my son’s hair for 17 years. So, I had professional clippers and edgers at home, so I said, ‘If I go home and get my clippers and line you up, will you go back to class?’ He said, ‘Yeah, I will,’” Smith said.
Smith says that the boy’s attitude instantly changed upon seeing his haircut. He helped the student clean himself up and sent him back to class. He explained that something as simple as a haircut could mean the world to a struggling student.
“That age is a time where peer acceptance is huge. So, a young man, especially an African American young man, the barbershop is a big deal in the community. Looking good and representing and presenting yourself is huge for kids,” he said.
A school police officer snapped photos while Smith lined the boy’s hair and later posted them on social media. The post quickly went viral, and Smith received heaps of praise for his actions.
Despite becoming an overnight hero, Smith says that he didn’t do anything extraordinary. In fact, he insists that his actions are part of the job description of being a good educator. He believes that punishment isn’t always the answer to every problem and that it can sometimes exacerbate the issue instead of making it better.
“We’re not disciplining with a hard fist. You could call and have the parent pick the kid up for defiance, or you can sit and get to the root of the problem and see what can I do to help you? What do you need right now?” Smith said.
Smith reiterated that the student isn’t a bad kid and wasn’t being malicious by breaking the rules. Luckily, the intuitive principal was able to recognize this and offer a more proactive solution.
“He really was not trying to get out of class. He just thought that he would be laughed at, so we took the time and did what we could to help him,” Smith said.
Smith could have easily disciplined the child, as he was in violation of the school’s dress code and had refused to comply. However, he was able to look past the bad behavior and see the underlying issue. Because of his compassion and understanding, he not only resolved the problem but also influenced the boy in a way that will have a lasting positive effect.
In a world that’s constantly telling young men that they’re inherently toxic, we need more men like Principal Jason Smith and La Don Allen to set good examples for these boys and help build confidence in them in a positive way.