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Kent teacher uses hair to teach lesson

Martin Sortun Elementary School librarian assistant Robin Morrow, right, and kindergartner Jillian Smith cut physical education teacher Sherrie Soderquist’s hair at a May 31 assembly. Soderquist grew her hair for four years in order to donate the long locks to children’s charity Locks of Love, and involved the students by holding a raffle to see who would get to help cut her hair. - Photo courtesy Beth Lott
Martin Sortun Elementary School librarian assistant Robin Morrow, right, and kindergartner Jillian Smith cut physical education teacher Sherrie Soderquist’s hair at a May 31 assembly. Soderquist grew her hair for four years in order to donate the long locks to children’s charity Locks of Love, and involved the students by holding a raffle to see who would get to help cut her hair.
— image credit: Photo courtesy Beth Lott

Donates her long tresses

Martin Sortun Elementary School educator Sherrie Soderquist has always been a supporter of cancer causes, but May 30 was the first time she’s let her hair do the helping.

“I’ve done the breast-cancer walks, but I was just thinking of some other way to help,” she said.

The 25-year Kent School District physical education teacher cut off her hair at a school assembly May 31 to donate to Locks of Love, a non-profit organization that provides hair pieces for young cancer victims.

Soderquist’s mother died of cancer at the age of 36 when Soderquist was very young. Now, at the age of 50, the teacher continues to support cancer victims in memory of her mother and hopes to inspire in her students a heart for helping.

Growing her hair for four years was a perfect way to do that, she said. She got students involved by holding a raffle to see who would help cut her long locks.

“We’re always looking for ways to help promote behavior, so I got these tickets and whenever we witnessed one of them do something kind for someone else, they would get a ticket to put in the basket,” she said.

The tickets grew in number, and when the day of the assembly came, three were drawn. First-graders Natano Woods and Allison Elkins, and kindergartner Jillian Smith were selected to help hold the scissors.

“They divided my hair into three pony tails in the back, and each of them got to cut one of them off,” Soderquist said.

The teacher said it was a pain to grow the hair out because of the rules of donating to Locks of Love. The hair must be all the same length, she said, so it can’t really be styled, and no coloring or perming is allowed. She said she’s enjoying the new, shorter 'do now.

“It’s pretty short,” she said. “It feels pretty good. If it would turn summer here pretty soon, it would feel better.”

She said she’s thinking of starting the process all over, though, in order to continue her support for what she considers a worthy cause.

“The cool thing about (Locks of Love) is that anybody can do it,” she said. “I think it’s great.”

Her greatest hope, though, is that she created a good example for her students.

“I just try to get them thinking, because they’re going to be making their own decisions pretty soon,” she said. “I just hope I reached at least one kid, so when they get older they make a decision to help out.”

To learn more about Locks of Love and how to donate to the cause, visit www.locksoflove.org or call 888-896-1588.

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