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Why this Delaware principal opened a barbershop inside his school

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Posted at 9:40 AM, Mar 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-06 10:41:19-05

As he starts his morning before the school bell rings, Principal Dr. Terrance Newton follows the same daily routine of checking his voicemails, his emails -- and how many haircut appointments he has lined up for the day.

Yes, he has real appointments scheduled to style and groom the hair of his students at Warner Elementary School in Wilmington, Delaware.

Newton, 45 -- known as Dr. Newton or simply Newt -- is a first-year principal at the school and immediately noticed the high suspension rate and an immense amount of behavioral write-ups.

He wanted to do something that would not only change students' behavior but create a bond between him and his "babies," as he calls them. With experience cutting hair prior to his new position, Newton said once he saw available space in the school, a light-bulb went off in his head to build a real barbershop onsite.

The shop is equipped with clippers, scissors, combs, grooming capes and Newton's barber apron, and many of the supplies were paid for from Newton's own pocket and donations from people around town.

"Just like any barbershop, that's how we learn a lot, that's how we build relationships," Newton told "GMA." "Ninety percent of what I know in life I learned in the barbershop."

When I would go to the barbershop, the conversations with me and my barber were about me staying out trouble, my grades and what's happening in the community.Newton said he learned life skills like communication, listening and proper etiquette -- such as respecting your elders -- at the barbershop growing up, and now he tries to pass those lessons on to his students.

"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 trouble, my grades and what's happening in the community," he said.

Once the shop opened, students would get called to the principal's office -- not because they were in trouble, but because it was time for their appointment.

"I take care of my babies," Newton said. "It's about building that relationship and that bond with them, and I utilize that barbershop to do that, to build connections."

For the full storyon Good Morning America, click here.