A pretty simple concept is driving a new community reading program at Lakota for elementary student boys: Read a book while you get your hair cut.
Part of Lakota’s continuing efforts to promote early literacy, “Barber Shop, Books & Boys” kicked off this Tuesday with a pilot run in two school communities. In partnership with a West Chester barber shop, Lakota is inviting all elementary boys to receive a free haircut, during which they read a book of their choice to other boys waiting their turn.
The haircuts, made possible by private donations, are available at X Quisite Cutz off Kingsgate Way on the third Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m.
“Support beyond school hours is just as important as the instruction a student receives in the classroom,” said Lakota Executive Director of Curriculum & Instruction Marlon Styles. “Students learn in all different ways. To personalize our approach means we have to be open to new ways of connecting with them and getting them excited about learning. This program has a lot of potential to do that.”
As simple as it sounds, the new program’s design is multi-purposed and goes beyond the most obvious goal to promote literacy. The smiles, high fives and words of encouragement on the first night were evidence of that.
“With adult role models as volunteers and an audience of kids their own age, our young readers have support all around them,” said Angie Brown, who leads Lakota’s community engagement efforts. “So much of it is about providing words of encouragement and reinforcing their confidence while they’re learning something new.”
Community engagement for student achievement is a district goal that aligned with the barber shop’s mission, too.
“The whole purpose of a barber shop is to bring people together and build community,” said Rod Hampton, owner of X Quisite Cutz. “Plus I realized that kids might spent half an hour or more getting their haircut. Why not put that time to good use and read while they’re sitting there?”
The long-term goal is to build up a small library of books – both for students to read there on site and take home with them. For more information about how to get involved, either as a volunteer or donor of books or haircut funds, contact email@example.com.