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Using some clippers and a little bit of patience, an Indianapolis principal solved a problem by giving his middle school student a haircut when the boy wasn’t feeling confident in his appearance. It’s earned him praise online. Jason Smith is the principal of Stonybrook Intermediate and Middle School in Warren Township, Indiana. An eighth grade student ended up in his office after refusing to take his hat off at school.

 “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 principal says he thought the student looked fine but understood that the boy’s lack of confidence in his appearance was keeping him from going to class. He offered to cut the student’s hair, if he agreed to go back to class.

“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.

After getting cleaned up by his principal, the student held up his end of the bargain and went to class. While a perfect haircut may seem trivial to some, Smith says he knows that to a Black middle school student, it can mean the world.

“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. While many online are saying the principal went above and beyond, Smith says he’s doing exactly what he’s supposed to do. He’s on a mission to change the culture of his school to make it a place where problems get solved, instead of making them worse.

“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, who is studying for his doctorate in education, says he’s still searching for the best ways to create the perfect learning environment for his students. He says this haircut could be a lesson for all educators on having empathy.

“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.

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Principal fixes insecure middle school student’s haircut to get him back to class
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