It’s not like he did something that bad, students had done worse in the past, right?
It wasn’t even anything serious, a minor infraction at most. But the response that he was met with really made him wonder if more was actually going on. He knew there was only one way to find out.
The principal, Jason Smith, stood exactly where he always stood while the children filed into their normal classes.
He remembers the day being one with lots of laughter and every. Stonybrook Intermediate and Middle School looked like any other school on the outside, but the enthusiastic principal had other plans.
It may have seemed obvious what kind of principal Jason Smith was on the outside. But was he hiding something else?
The reality was that the principal was in a war against old outdated policies towards discipline. He always wanted to improve that aspect of schooling.
One teacher sent a child to Principal Smith’s office just because he wouldn’t take off his hat.
The principal had seen his fair share of fashion rebellions. But it looked like this child had something else going on. His sullen face and red cheeks gave that much away. The principal knew he had to make a choice.
The principal knew very well that the normal course of action would be to call his parents and give him detention.
But Smith really didn’t appreciate that kind of discipline. As principal, he knew his job was to educate and guide young minds. He politely asked the child why they didn’t take their hat off.
The boy sank lower into his seat and gave a shrug, clearly ready for a lecture from the principal.
Smith knew something was going on, “Did anything difficult happen today?” This time the boy looked up at him and mumbled something. Smith needed to find out what was wrong.
With a little bit of prodding, the boy finally gave in and took off his cap. The principal could never have anticipated why he wore the cap.
Smith didn’t see anything wrong, but the boy was adamant that his haircut was terrible. While Smith himself couldn’t see the bad haircut, he did see another problem.
It wasn’t really the haircut that was the problem. Principal Smith could see the real problem.
But Mr. Smith knew how important appearances were to children, it was part of their identity. All students just want is to be accepted by their peers. He knew he would at least try his best to fix this situation.
Even if from the outside the principal thought it looked fine, it was about the boy’s confidence and identity. He could fix this.
The boy seemed to perk up at the principal’s words, “If I can fix it, will you go back to class?” He saw the hope in his eyes as he nodded intensely. Smith knew he could do this.
You see, the principal had been cutting hair for much longer than he let on. Seemed this was a lucky chance that he wouldn’t pass up to help a student in need.
He had trimmed countless college basketball teammates’ hair and had been trimming hair for over 12 years. He had an expensive pair of clippers at home, but the strangest thing was yet to come.
The trim didn’t take long, but the end result had the young man happy and eager to go back to class and learn about diameters and circumference.
Smith’s support staff, however, had snapped a photo of him doing the haircut and had posted the story on social media. The response was shocking.
Everyone was going on and on about how he had “gone above and beyond” for his student.
But to Smith, that didn’t make sense at all – and was one of the root issues within education, at least in his opinion. What he did wasn’t an “extra kindness” that deserved praise.
It was what he, and other educators, should be doing as part of their job.
It’s far too easy to just get mad, call the parents, and hand off the problem to someone else. It’s far too simple to toss someone into detention. It was far more effective to find the root cause and address that instead. The next day, he followed the young man to class.
Smith peeked through the window and saw the boy sitting tall and already putting his hand up.
It had worked. When local news outlets reached out about the “story” he had a simple response. “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.
If only other institutions saw little acts of kindness and truly wanting to help children as part of their job, maybe things would get better.
Granted, being a teacher nowadays is tough, but it’s still one of the most fulfilling jobs someone can ever have.