Ridge Park Elementary School students meet community helpers

Some Ridge Park Elementary School students who took a community-based instructional trip to Sal’s Barbershop left with more than just knowledge about what it takes to run a business - some came out with a whole new look.

At least two students ended their visit with trimmed tresses after learning about barbershop tools from Sal Giannone, a Plymouth Whitemarsh High School graduate who operates nine area barbershops. Along with the practical sharing of information about what capes, trimmers, hair picks, shears, combs, hand mirrors, and neck dusters are used for, Mr. Giannone did his best to quell potential fears that students with sensory issues might have about going to the barbershop.

“I try not to say I will ‘cut your hair,’” Mr. Giannone explained, saying that he didn’t want anyone to think a haircut might hurt. “We do your hair here.”

He operated some of the trimmers to show the students from the Autistic Support program how loud the buzzing sound can be, allowed students to test out a neck duster, passed around hair picks and combs, and showed students how shears should be held and how they operate. After his talk, some of the students volunteered to sit in the barber’s chair and received a complimentary trim. Others left with a better understanding of how barbershops operate, and about an entrepreneur within their own community who runs a successful business. 

Thomas Brochoun, a second-grader, said he was surprised to learn that Mr. Giannone operated nine shops, and that barbers have a different name for a tool with which he was already familiar.

“I didn’t know at the barbershop they call the scissors the shears,” said Thomas.

The visit to Sal’s Barbershop was part of the Autistic Support program’s January theme of learning from “community helpers.” Mr. Giannone came to Ridge Park to talk with students. 

Along with Mr. Giannone, students learned from Dave Thomas, a custodian at Ridge Park Elementary School who is also a volunteer firefighter for the Harmonville Fire Company. Mr. Thomas visited classes to talk about what it is like to be a firefighter, shared books with the students that were related to firefighting, and showed them the protective equipment he uses.