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'Mr. Brown's Cuts' uses haircuts, a listening ear to make a difference at Denver school

Posted at 9:45 PM, Feb 09, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-10 00:33:03-05

DENVER — Dwayne Brown wears quite a few hats at Denver Green School.

"My main title (is) student advisor. I support teachers and whatever is needed in the building as it relates to students. I'm also the athletic director, the boys' basketball coach. I'm the on-site tech person, and I run some of our social media," he explained.

In addition, Brown is also the school's barber.

"I come from a generation where your hair is very important. It gives you a lot of self-esteem. It gives you a lot of pride in yourself," he said.

The self-taught barber came to administrators a few months ago with the idea of giving free haircuts to kids while at school.

"We obviously embraced it. His reasons for wanting to be able to connect with kids in a different way than just being kind of, like, the advisor guy in the building make a lot of sense," said Jose Piza, one of the Denver Green School's administrators.

Since then, dozens of kids have gotten cuts by Mr. Brown. It's become such a popular program that his sessions on Thursday mornings are packed.

"You see them walk out with a spring in their step. They feel good about themselves, they want to be seen," said Brown.

Connecting with students is the main goal. He hopes the haircuts contribute to building a relationship with students as a proactive approach to student engagement.

"You can do nothing with a child unless you have a relationship with them. It's hard to teach them, it's hard to coach them if you don't have the relationship," said Brown.

It's a difference teachers say they notice when the students return to class.

"The kids' faces light up, you can see a lot of pride. A lot of kids are able to re-engage back in their community in the school day with something so simple, yet so meaningful to them," said Piza.

Through each haircut, and his daily interactions with students, Brown is hoping to leave a legacy.

"When I was coming up, I had one Black teacher. I remember him to this day," said Brown. "Super professional. He's super nice, super kind. I want to be that lasting example, something to look at for these kids when they're going up and down the hallways like, 'I have another option of who I can be, what I can do and how I can model myself.'"

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