Snip, snip, snip goes the scissor…buzz, buzz, buzz goes the buzzer…

Typically, these are the sounds of our barbering program at The New LIFE School in the Bronx, a therapeutic school which serves special needs students age 8-21 (grades 3-12).

These days, due to COVID, students are working on their portfolios from home. Through remote learning, they are continuing with the academic portion of the barber curriculum. And they are studying for the New York State barber license exam.

A new and improved barbershop awaits their return. Thanks to a generous grant from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA),  lab tables and another barber station have been installed. This station will expand the learning space for the part-time hairdresser and barber. Improvements have been made to the décor, including a vibrant, fresh coat of paint.

With an anticipated reopening in September, the renovated barbershop will be set up for social distancing. When in closer proximity, staff and students will wear masks and/or face shields and wash their hands before and after cutting hair.

This ELCA gift has provided the equipment and resources for students to complete the Career Development and Occupational Studies (CDOS) Program in Barbering, with an initial barbering apprentice certification. In a win-win, this program prepares students for direct employment post-graduation while providing a personal care service to the community.

According to Principal Matthew Tucker, “This grant has been so meaningful because it provided The New LIFE School the opportunity to essentially replace an aging barbershop with a state-of-the-art barbershop that our staff — and most importantly our students — can be excited about. As a result, more students are participating in the barbershop program, making it a highlight of The New LIFE School overall.”

Now that’s a cut above.