My head is cold, and there is a reason for that.
One of the organizations at my school, Rachel’s challenge, was raising money for a family in need. In coming up with possible fundraising ideas, we threw around the typical penny war, baked goods sale, and car wash. But these were all chump change; we wanted to raise serious funds for a serious need—a student and family experiencing a very difficult time, even for our demographic.
Then the idea came: a buzz-off. There is nothing that kids want to see more than a teacher humiliated, and what better way than shaving teachers’ heads live during a pep rally? That, surely, would be a big draw. This is where I come in. I was asked whether I would be willing to volunteer to have my head shaved for the fundraiser. Now, this is a pretty big request. I mean, I have good hair. I take pride in my stylish, tussled-yet-professional mane. After asking permission from the girlfriend, I reluctantly agreed to put my coiffure to the chopping block.
For each several hundred dollars raised, a different teacher would be slated to undergo the razor. I determined that my hair was worth at least $1,000. However, as my school is Title I, that was deemed a bit ambitious, and I had to settle for the $400 dollar mark (far below the true value of my gorgeous hair, and sadly ranked below the shorter hair of another administrator).
Each day during lunch the donation jars were carted around, collecting funds, and the school was plastered with posters of the participating teachers’ faces with the hair photoshopped out. At first it was rough, and not many donations were collected, but with the daily announcements and plenty of heckling from teachers, the dollars started to flow. One fellow teacher participating was awesome enough to mock his students by styling his hair just like several of his students throughout the week, including signs with their names worn around his neck.
My students were incredibly and surprisingly passionate about the issue. Some students told me they they would bring a hundred dollars just to see me have my head shaved (which is unlikely as most of my kids eat on SNAP, but hey, you never know). Other students were vehemently opposed to seeing my head without its glorious locks, and begged me not to do it. I didn’t know that my hairdo would cause such a reaction.
There were a few students who definitely took it overboard. One of my students asked me if she could keep a lock of my hair. I gave her a glance of repudiation and said, “No. That’s creepy.” The last thing I need is to wake up at night in searing pain as a child twists a pin in her newly completed voodoo doll. Two of my other students drew a gravestone on my whiteboard and asked if we could have a moment of silence for my soon-to-be beheaded hair.
Middle schoolers are weird.
When the time finally came for the pep rally, students were mocking my hair, asking me if I was scared to lose it, cruelly telling me to kiss it goodbye. I mean, really? This is just hair, not Jesus before the Sanhedrin. Nonetheless, I was a little nervous, not because I am vain about my hair (which I am), but because I have a brilliantly germanic bone structure that just seems to shout, “Deutschland über alles!”
The pep rally itself had very little to do with our sports teams, who have not earned any accolades for some years, but we did have some sports group recognized for a moment after our band, choir, and cheerleaders all performed. There were a few silly teacher vs. student games, and then came the big moment, the finale. Two other teachers and myself were called out to the floor. It was announced that we had raised over $800 for this family—pretty amazing for our student population.
As we came down to the court, I could hear sixth graders chanting my name. It was strangely awesome. I felt like Petyon Manning, or rather, more like a Roman gladiator entering the Colosseum. We were seated, and behind us came the buzzing whir of three electric razors. Then as the whirring came close, hair began to fall in small heaps on the ground.
Minutes later there we were, three teachers, sheared as sheep.
I kept running my hands over my newly pared hair; it felt soft and fuzzy, but I was worried as to what I would see when I looked in a mirror. However, I had no need. As students exited the gym, one student came up to me and deftly said, “You look like Walter White.” Ouch.
Well, hair grows back, but until then I will be needing to wear my beanie, mostly because my head is cold, but also because kids keep asking to touch my head. Did I mention middle schoolers were weird?