Marion County School District partners with barbershops to offer 'cutting edge' literacy program – WMBF

MARION, S.C. (WMBF) – A Pee Dee school district is beginning a new chapter with an initiative aimed to get children to read, by turning barbershops into libraries.
“The barbershop holds a special place in every community. It gives people a place to congregate, communicate, exchange information, whether its pulpit announcements, what’s taking place with local sports,” said Fred Gause, owner of Fred’s Barber Shop in Marion.
Barbershops are much more than a place you get your hair cut – but they’re often seen as a community gathering spot. Now, several Marion County barbershops have added a way for children to have their voices heard.
The Marion County School District recently supplied three barbershops with a library of books for children to read.
Gause said the idea began after the district hosted several people to read with students as part of the Real Men Read initiative after getting the idea from MCSD Superintendent Dr. Kandace Bethea.
“With the kids being out for the pandemic, we saw the grades slipping and children were falling behind, so Dr. Bethea thought it would be a great idea to have books available for children to read at barbershops, and I thought it was a great idea,” Gause said.
Gause is excited to begin the first chapter of the Cutting Edge Literacy Initiative and said it’s rewarding to watch parents reading to their children while waiting on a haircut.
Rev. Marvin Hemingway, President of the Marion County NAACP, said barbershops bring all genders, creeds, and races of people together, adding there isn’t a better place in a community to impact young people.
Hemingway also said he’s proud to see the school district and barbershops working together to get children reading.
“When you have a barbershop where you can cover every aspect of communication with the youth and talking about literature, what a more comfortable place than to talk with your barber, everyone loves to talk to a barber,” he said.
Fred’s Barber Shop and Emerson’s Barber Shop in Marion are participating in the program along with Tim’s Mega Barber Shop in Mullins.
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