Terrance Newton believes that 90 percent of what he knows in life, he learned in the barbershop.
Growing up, it's where he learned how to communicate, listen to others, and respect his elders. "Of course we would have barbershop talk like sports and politics, but as far as life-wise, when I would go to the barbershop, the conversations with me and my barber were about me staying out of trouble, my grades, and what's happening in the community," Newton told Good Morning America.
When Newton became principal of Warner Elementary School in Wilmington, Delaware, last year, and saw the high rate of suspensions and behavioral problems, he decided to bring the barbershop to the school. He set up an area with clippers, combs, and grooming capes, and sees kids throughout the day, doling out haircuts along with advice. "It's about building that relationship and that bond with them, and I utilize that barbershop to do that, to build connections," Newton said. It's working — at this time in 2019, there were 103 suspensions, but this year, there have only been four.
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Newton first started offering students haircuts 15 years ago, as a special education teacher. When one of his students started acting out and skipping school, Newton asked him what was wrong, and learned the boy was being bullied over his haircut. Newton picked up a set of clippers and got to work. "With me just cutting his hair, I was able to build a better relationship with him, his attitude changed, he came to school more, and he was just overall a better person," he told GMA.
While he is only able to provide haircuts to boys, when a girl wants her hair done, Newton calls in a professional. Everyone gets the same one-on-one attention and can ask Newton anything. "This is not just a barbershop for me," he said. "This is my mentoring sanctuary." Catherine Garcia
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