In various communities, barbershops are seen as a rite of passage for young men. They are a place to come together, share experiences and learn from one another. This is the same premise of the after-school barbershop at Indianapolis Metropolitan High School hosted by faculty members.
The barbershop at Indy Met is a club where young men can get their hair cut or trimmed in lieu of detention. This opportunity for constructive discipline offers valuable life lessons about what it means to be a man.
“What does it mean to be a good man?” former Dean Fred Yeakey asks his barbershop students. “Part of it is learning to take responsibility for yourself and the ones you love, right? Failing is a part of succeeding, but bouncing back is the only way you can overcome your challenges and support others.”
Yeakey worked for Goodwill Education Initiatives, Inc. for seven years. Beginning as a life coach at The Excel Center®, Goodwill’s high school for adults, he found his way to Indianapolis Met in 2016 as Dean of Students. His barbershop program has been a hit at every school he’s served.
“My brother and I started cutting hair when we were growing up,” Yeakey said. “A barbershop is a great way to bring the community together and to discuss important topics impacting our lives.”
The barbershop does more than impart hair care knowledge– staff use the chair time to positively influence and motivate male students. It has enjoyed such wide success that it continues under the leadership of his brother, Indy Met instructor Brian Williams.
“The barbershop is where our young men can enjoy a haircut and receive valuable mentoring,” Brian Williams said. “We talk about all sorts of subjects– sports, school, leadership, home life, family and how to be a role model.”
Indianapolis Met’s faculty builds a strong rapport with students both during and after school. The barbershop participants often return every week–even when they don’t need a haircut.
“The teachers here talk to us about what we need to do to be successful,” student Dominic Alexander Williams said. “Sometimes I come here after school just to hear what he’s going to say this week.”
Indianapolis Met is focused on more than high school education. The staff encourages students to seek personal development as they prepare for postsecondary education and/or a career. The barbershop is one example of many resources Indy Met provides its students as they work towards earning a high school diploma and prepare for life’s next step.
“Whether it’s for an actual trim or just to spend quality time together, the barbershop will always be here for any young man who needs it,” Brian said.