Robert Dunham, a fifth-grade teacher at Carver Elementary School in Richmond, Virginia, is being celebrated for giving free haircuts to his students on the morning before their Moving On Ceremony. He said he just wanted his students to look their best on that special day.
“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,” Dunham told Yahoo Lifestyle. “My wife says to me ‘where you going with those clippers?’ I said, ‘Something tells me some of my students are going to need a trim.’”
And he was right. Before the Moving On Ceremony, when his students bid goodbye to their elementary school and set their sights on junior high, numerous students came inside the room for a fresh cut.
“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 told WTVR. “I want every one of my students to be confident today. This is their special day.”
One of his colleagues who was there started taking photos and posted it on social media. It immediately went viral, but Dunham said what’s most important for him is that his students felt good on that special day. It is something that he always imparts in his students as well.
“You should always be caught doing the right thing, at all times,” he said. “I’m just happy to be a part of that moment.”
Dunham said he learned how to cut hair from his father who owned a chain of barbershops in Brooklyn back then. With the help of some YouTube videos and self-practice, he improved his skills. And he was glad he was able to use it to bring good news about Carver Elementary School, which was reportedly involved in a cheating scandal led by then-Principal Kiwana Yates.
“We have some of the brightest and funniest kids on the planet,” he said. “Often we get a bad rap because of things that happened in the past. We tell people, this is in the new Carver. Whatever you remember, those days are over.”