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Principal Fixes Insecure Middle School Student’s Haircut to Get Him Back to Class

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Jason Smith is being hailed as “compassionate” for de-escalating a situation that could have potentially granted a student in-school suspension for disobeying school policy.

What We Know:

  • Jason Smith is the principal of Stonybrook Intermediate and Middle School in Warren Township, Indiana. One of the stipulations of the current school policy in Stonybrook is that students must remove their hats during a school day. One day, 8th grader Anthony Moore came to school and refused to remove his hat. This behavior was not intended to be malicious or resentful, Moore simply did not like his new haircut. In the days previous to attending school, Moore’s parents had taken him to get a haircut and the results were not to the teen’s liking.
  • After some back and forth with a teacher, Moore was promptly sent to the principal’s office for disobeying school policy. It was here that Mr. Smith was able to get a grasp on the situation and react accordingly. Principal Smith and Moore are of the same ethnicity, so it was easier for Smith to understand where Moore’s frustration actually was. Moore explained that he was embarrassed to take off his hat in class because he believed his haircut looked bad.

Jason Smith

  • Smith deduced that Moore’s problem had a simple solution: fix the haircut and things will be okay.

Smith commented, “All behavior is communication and when a student is struggling, we need to ask ourselves what happened to this child instead of what’s wrong with the child.”

  • Smith suggested that he would fix Moore’s haircut if the 8th grader agreed to return to class afterward. At first, Moore was hesitant, but Smith reassured the boy of his experience. Smith revealed that he had been cutting hair since he was Moore’s age and showed the 8th grader pictures of the work he performed on his own son. It was here that Moore agreed to the arrangement and Smith promptly went home to grab his haircutting clippers.
  • Upon his return, Smith called Moore’s parents to inform them of the situation regarding their son in school that day, but mostly to ask for consent to cut the boy’s hair. Indiana doesn’t currently have any statewide COVID orders in effect, but districts set their own academic calendars and make individual decisions about in-person teaching. Asking for consent to cut Moore’s hair is also asking to perform a service for him in the coronavirus pandemic. Moore’s parents gave consent for Smith to cut their son’s hair and Moore’s mother, Tawanda Johnson refers to the gesture as “compassionate”. After the haircut, Moore continued on with his day without wearing his hat. Smith periodically checked on the 8th grader himself to confirm his behavior had indeed changed.

Principal Jason Smith believes that educators need to take care of their students on more than just an academic level.

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Education

Furman University Unveils Statue of its First Black Student

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Joseph Vaughn attended Furman University back in 1965.

What We Know:

  • A statue of Vaughn, the school’s first African-American student, was revealed on Friday, April 16th, 2021, in Greenville, SC. The statue was modeled after a photo of Vaughn walking up to the school’s library. Vaughn died in 1991 and served as president of the Greenville and Southeast NAACP student chapters. He graduated Cum Laude in 1968 before becoming a teacher in Greenville County.
  • He also served as the president of both the Greenville County Association of Teachers and the South Carolina Education Association. Qwameek Bethea, a senior student and president of Furman’s NAACP chapter was the one who convinced the university to build the statue. Vaughn was not originally welcomed by everyone on campus when he became a student. Vaughn allegedly found a noose hanging from his doorknob one morning shortly after he arrived.
  • The Vaughn statue was two years in the making and is part of a larger movement the University began in 2017. The Task Force on Slavery and Justice was created out of inspiration from an op-ed written in 2016. The piece was written by a student of the school and notably questioned the University’s legacy. Vaughn’s statue is one of a dozen recommendations the group proposed to the University for approval.
  • The school expanded its Joseph Vaughn scholarship for students in 2018 and renamed one of its dormitories after Clark Murphy, a black groundskeeper at the school, in 2020. Vaughn is the first person of color whose likeness is featured prominently on the Furman campus. The original unveiling of the statue was planned to be in January but was rescheduled due to high rates of coronavirus around the community at the time.

Members of Vaughn’s family showed up for the occasion as well, noting that Vaughn stood for “an instrument of change.”

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Education

College Student, 12, To Major In Astronomical Science To Become NASA Engineer

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A gifted 12-year-old is now a soon-to-be college student

What We Know:

  • Alena Wicker will be virtually attending Arizona State University this May after she graduates high school. The young Texas native plans to dual major in astronomical and planetary science and chemistry to further her dream of working as an engineer at NASA. 
  • Her mother, Daphne McQuarter, told Good Morning America that her daughter’s natural talent first garnered her attention when she started playing with Legos. Her passion for building, rearranging, and creating new lego projects began when she was 4-years-old. 
  • Aside from continuing to create Lego masterpieces, like the Taj Mahal, Alena has also created a number of programs to help other young women of color. Her website Brown Stem Girl acknowledges the racial and gender disparities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields and provides resources for girls of color interested in STEM. Among other projects, Alena plans to debut a children’s book soon called “Brainiac World” to discourage kids from teasing and also has her own podcast about featuring women in STEM
  • Despite being a child prodigy, Alena insists she’s just like other kids. She loves hanging out with her friends, going to the movies, watching TV, singing, and running track and field. She knows her journey through college might be challenging, but Alena is not one to be discouraged. “All my life, people are trying to hold me down because of my age,” she stated.  

We’re excited to see what Alena’s future will hold!

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Education

Texas Students Disciplined for ‘Slave-Trading Game’ That Auctioned off Classmates

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A group of students at a Texas school was disciplined for setting up an online slave-trading forum where they pretended to auction off their classmates of a different race.

What We Know:

  • A student at the Aledo Independent School District posted a screenshot of the game on the social media site Snapchat. In the photo, a group chat with the name “Slave Trade” can be seen. One student indicated they would pay $1 for a classmate, who “would be better if his hair wasn’t so bad.”
  • In a statement issued Monday, the school district said it discovered that students at Daniel Ninth Grade Campus had engaged in cyberbullying and racial harassment over two weeks ago. The school district stated they began an “immediate and thorough investigation” with authorities into the matter.
  • The district held conversations with the student body at once and communicated with the students and parents of those involved. The Aledo ISD wanted to make it clear that “statements and conduct that targets a student because of his or her race is not only prohibited but also has a profound impact on the victims.”
  • Tony Crawford, a local activist, says the situation is another example of an ever-growing list of incidents that get swept under the rug. In March, a Mississippi teacher drew criticism for a homework assignment that asked students to “pretend they’re slaves.” Many called the assignment “tone-deaf” for asking students to write letters to their families back in Africa.

The district did not specify what discipline the students received, nor how many were involved in the incident.

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