A teacher in Richmond, Virginia, is being praised for his efforts to ensure his students were looking sharp for their big day — fifth-grade graduation.
Robert Dunham said he awoke the morning of his students’ annual Moving On ceremony, when they bid adieu to elementary school and set their sights on junior high, with the hunch that some of the boys might need a little help to look their best for the occasion.
“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, a fifth-grade teacher at Carver Elementary School, 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.’”
The first-year teacher knew he’d done the right thing once student after student began stopping by his classroom for a quick cut.
“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!’” Dunham recalled. “One of my colleagues from fourth grade just started taking pictures, and then she posted them, and it took off from there.”
Before long, Dunham’s noble act of kindness had gone viral. The teacher said he wasn’t looking for fame, but rather was focused on making sure his students felt good on their special day. He even stepped in to help a student tie his tie.
In an interview with Richmond station WTVR-TV, Dunham explained the confidence boost something a simple as a haircut can provide.
“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 said. “I want every one of my students to be confident today. This is their special day.”
The teacher said he learned to cut hair growing up in Brooklyn, where his father owned a chain of barbershops, according to the station. With a little self-practice and help from a few YouTube videos, Dunham was able to build on his barbering skills.
On June 12 they came in handy.
Dunham explained it was important for him to serve as an example for his students, showing them 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 that I take pride in doing every single day,” Dunham told WTVR.
“You should always be caught doing the right thing, at all times,” he added. “I’m just happy to be a part of that moment.”
Though Dunham is determined to keep his students on the straight and narrow, Carver Elementary hasn’t always been viewed in the best light. Last year, the school was rocked by a cheating scandal led by then-Principal Kiwana Yates, Yahoo Lifestyle reported.
“Often we get a bad rap because of things that happened in the past,” Dunham said. “We tell people, this is in the new Carver. Whatever you remember, those days are over.”