Teacher brings clippers to school to give students free haircuts on graduation day

A 5th grade teacher woke up the morning of his students’ Moving on Ceremony — at which they say goodbye to elementary school — and had a feeling that they were going to need a little extra help looking polished for their big day, on June 12.

“I just had this gut feeling that some of my boys weren’t going to be able to get a haircut, so I instinctively picked up the clippers,” Robert Dunham, who is in his first year as a 5th grade teacher at Carver Elementary School, Richmond, Va, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “My wife says to me ‘where you going with those clippers?’ and I said ‘something tells me some of my students are going to need a trim.’”

Dunham knew he made the right decision when his students began arriving. He took out his clippers and started trimming.

“The next thing I know, one of my colleagues came to my room and said, ‘Can I send you one more?’ and I said, “Just keep sending them!”” recounts Dunham. “One of my colleagues from 4th grade just started taking pictures and then she posted them, and it took off from there.”

However, the teacher never intended for his act of kindness to be caught on camera.

“I wanted to make sure that all of my students were looking their best that day,” he says. “It was their Moving on Ceremony and I wanted it to be special.”

In an interview with WTVR, Mr. Dunham described how important it is for him to lead by example and show his students what doing the right thing looks like.

“Just being able to be that positive male role model for a lot of my students is just something i take pride in doing every single day,” Dunham told WTVR. He added that his students are some of the “brightest and funniest kids on the planet.”

While Dunham is determined to lead his students the right way, Carver Elementary School has not always been looked at favorably. In July, 2018, a state investigation revealed a cheating ring, led by the former school principal, Kiwana Yates.

"Often we get a bad rap because of things that happened in the past,” Dunham told WTVR. “We tell people, this is in the new Carver. Whatever you remember, those days are over."

Dunham wants to leave his graduating students with a positive message: “Remember to always get caught doing the right thing, remain humble, and it’s not always about how you start, but it’s how you finish.”

Superintendent Jason Kamras of Richmond Public Schools told Yahoo Lifestyle that “his is a great example of what it means to lead and teach with love at Richmond Public Schools. We believe in nurturing the whole child and providing our students with what they need to be successful, both inside and outside of the classroom — and this is exactly what Mr. Dunham demonstrated yesterday. We are proud of Mr. Dunham and the example that he's setting for the students at Carver Elementary School and across our district."

According to WTVR, Mr. Dunham learnt how to cut hair growing up in Brooklyn, where his dad owned a chain of barber shops. He improved his skills by following videos on YouTube and with some self practice.

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