INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — On Thursday afternoons, a basement cafeteria at Providence Cristo Rey High School turns into a barbershop where male students leave with a cut and life lessons.
The barbershop is the creation of Fred Yeakey, the vice principal of Culture and Mission. He calls the weekly ritual “Grooming the Outer Man, Guiding the Inner Man,” a mentorship program designed to help guide the young men into a life of full of opportunity, promise and success.
“The quickest way to change a culture, a pulse, and the climate of the school, is not what you do in the classroom, it’s what you do outside the classroom,” Yeakey said.
Yeakey has been crafting his program for the better part of a decade. He says his weekly barbershop is part of a plan to give back to young men of color, who are often dismissed and left without the necessary tools for success. Yeakey says Cristo Rey, being a private school meant for low income, minority students, is the perfect place for “Grooming the Outer Man, Guiding the Inner Man” to succeed.
“I had to get close to them so they understood that I cared for them first. Then I gave them the opportunity so they can then see why,” Yeakey said.
So far, the students seem to think its working.
“At the time, I was down, and my confidence was down. He helped me bring myself back up,” student Jimmie Darbonne said.
Current seniors in the program who’ve worked with Yeakey for three years now help to lead the younger students. Yeakey says the reward of the program is seeing the growth each young man goes through. He has their trust, they know he has their back, and together it’s a recipe for success.
“I want this to be a movement. I want someone to be compelled to do something in the hopes it can become something you never imagined,” Yeakey said.