The middle school principal taught an impactful empathy lesson after a student was bullied for showing solidarity for his grandfather with cancer—by shaving his own head!
When sixth-grader Jackson Johnston's grandfather was diagnosed with cancer and began losing his hair as a result of the chemo treatments, the 11-year-old made the very brave decision to shave his own head in a show of solidarity.
"I've always wanted to be just like him," Jackson explained to Today. "So I thought I'd shave my head with him."
Pretty awesome! But when Jackson proudly went to school afterwards, kids started to make fun of his new buzz cut, calling him "baldy" and telling him he looked liked a cancer patient himself.
So cruel! Which is why when the school's principal Tim Hadley heard about what was going on, he decided to take action. He gathered the school's 175 students for an assembly, explained the reason behind Jackson's haircut, then sat in a chair and handed over a hair clipper to let the sixth-grader shave his head in front of the entire school.
Coolest. Principal. EVER!
Hadley also used to opportunity to chat with his students about a little thing called empathy. "Before you judge, before you make that comment, before you think about what you're going to say," he told the crowd, "really take into account [that] you don't know what somebody else's life's like. Even if looks great on the outside—Instagram and Facebook look fabulous—they could be broken on the inside."
What an amazing man and incredible leader!
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"At the end of the day, I just felt like there was a greater opportunity to teach how we approach life," Hadley humbly told Today. "We're here to educate, and it's more than just books and curriculum, but about life skills and how we interact with one another."
A great lesson we're sure these kids won't forget any time soon.
Hollee Actman Becker is a freelance writer, blogger, and mom of two who writes about parenting and pop culture. Check out her website holleeactmanbecker.com for more, and then follow her on Instagram and Twitter.