Barbershop inside elementary school gives free lessons, haircuts

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A Memphis barber is using his talent to mentor and teach Binghampton students.

Fidells Woods calls his make-shift barber shop inside William H. Brewster Elementary his "man cave." It is where he volunteers helping to mentor and groom boys to men.

Emmanuel Ward plays rock, paper, scissors with his friends to determine who goes first in the barber chair.

Now a 4th grader, Ward has been stepping up to Woods' barber chair since kindergarten.

While getting a hair cut, Ward is also sharpening his skills in math and reading.

Aside from a chair and a set of clippers, the barber room has a dry erase board, books, and educational posters.

"He taught me to read," said Ward. "He cuts good, he's smart."

Woods is a barber in Cordova but lives in the community near Brewster and wanted to give back after visiting the school with his niece.

Staff at Brewster recognized Woods had a passion.

"I said, 'Well Mr. Woods, what we're going to do, if you cut the hair to build the self-esteem, let's do more,'" Family Engagement Specialist Susan Black said.

Black researched and learned barbershops have a culture of motivating young boys, especially those in fatherless homes.

It is now the concept behind 'Mentoring And Nurturing Unlimited Potential in boys' or M.A.N.U.P.

Without the trust of her principal Dr. Angela Askew, Black said the program would not be successful.

"Parental involvement is also key to this mentor opportunity," she said.

"Whatever you're good at, use it to your best ability," said Woods.

He visits the school one a week, year round.

Woods said he never expected all the attention, but five years later finds pleasure in knowing his free hair cuts serve a bigger purpose.

"Just being able to be apart of these young men's lives brings me a lot of joy and happiness," he said.

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