Lowell Public School Community Manager Gayl Hurley is in her 25th year as an educator, and she’s always looking for new ways to support students and their families at the Sullivan Middle School in Lowell, where she works.
Last school year, Hurley brought in a barber a few times to provide free haircuts for students, and the response was overwhelming. Within a few days, nearly 60 students signed up.
Hurley, United Teachers of Lowell union rep who is in her 12th year in the Lowell Public Schools, immediately began working to set up the first operational barbershop in a middle school in Massachusetts. With the support of a federal Community Schools grant awarded to the district, she was able to open “Husky Kutz” this past fall.
At the state-licensed, full-service in-school barbershop located inside the Sullivan Middle School, students of all genders can get their hair cut free of charge, boosting their confidence and helping families that may not have the money or time to book appointments outside school.
“Some of our students are in homeless shelters, some of our families don’t have a car so there’s that barrier just getting to go get a haircut,” Hurley told Boston.com. “$25 is a lot of money for some of our families.”
The barbershop is open from 9:00 a.m. to noon every Monday throughout the school year, and master barber Joseph L’Heureux, co-owner of The Shoppe LLC in Dracut, is at the school each week to cut students’ hair.
“Not everyone can afford haircuts,” he told Channel 7 News. “Not everyone has the means to get to a barbershop or just be comfortable in a barbershop. So, being able to do it right from school is something that should be happening everywhere.”
On January 10, Hurley was recognized with a ‘Heroes Among Us’ Award by the Boston Celtics for her work launching ‘Husky Kutz.’ In just its few months of business, she has collaborated with schools across the country to begin replicating the model.
“I hope this program will cultivate and spread to other schools to help serve our youth,” she says.