The gymnasium was deafening as hundreds of Bridger Elementary School students squealed when more and more locks of hair fell to the gym floor on Thursday afternoon. One-by-one, 20 different students took their turn with clippers and shaved Principal John Taggart’s head in front of the entire student body. The Trimming of the Mane Event was a reward for those students from multiple grade levels who reached their reading goals.
“If students met their monthly reading goal for this month, we would give those students…the chance to come up and trim my head,” a freshly-shaved Taggart said. “Each year it ranges from 10-20 kids.”
After the end-of-day assembly concluded, dozens of students approached their principal to rub his shaved head. He had shaved his head last year, but hadn’t really cut it since, with the exception of a few trims on the side.
Taggart said the school finds ways to involve all students at all grade levels, including Kindergarten.
“We give teachers and kids a menu of items that they can do to help them reach their reading goals,” he explained. “It used to be everyone in the school would do accelerated reaching goals, or so many minutes a night. But then we realized that it excludes some kids and there was a small chunk of kids that were de-motivated. The last thing we want is to discourage kids from reading.”
Taggart said some students did accelerated reading, some read books online, Spanish-language students had books in English and Spanish, and even Kindergarten students had goals (to memorize all their sight words).
“Bottom line, we want to get kids reading; we want them to enjoy reading. That’s how we’re going to prepare them for the future.”
The Trimming of the Mane Event started three years ago when Taggart became the principal at Bridger Elementary School. He said it was usually tied in to a fundraising activity, allowing the top student fundraisers to help shave his head. This year, the school’s Parent Teacher Association opted not to do a fundraiser so the school decided to give the students a different kind of goal.
Taggart sees how effective it has been for his students, and thinks it may be time to challenge others to join in.
“Maybe, in the future, I can compete with some of the other principals in the valley and see if they’ll shave their heads, too? We can make it a valley-wide fundraiser!
“I don’t know if anyone is brave enough to take this on with me, but we could make it a big event if they will. Maybe, Superintendent (Frank) Schofield would be willing to do a competition to get his head shaved.”