Self-confidence has no age and a Washington D.C. kindergarten teacher can attest to that following the major act of kindness he bestowed upon his students, which afforded them an opportunity that they will never forget. Azel Prather Jr. has been educating and molding the minds of four and five-year-old’s for the last four years. Most recently, he decided to treat 40 students at Northeast Washington D.C.’s KIPP DC Arts and Technology Academy, where he works, to a day of pampering.
On Wednesday, Dec. 18, Prather hosted a “self-care” day for his students. “I’m doing a self care day at my school for my students! Shoutout to all the people jay [sic] donated their time and skills! Haircuts, hair braided, and nails done. Ima keep y’all updated but yeah. I’m geeked up. ThePratherFoundation,” he tweeted at the time.
Prather, who teaches pre-k 3 and pre-k 4 in addition to kindergarten, spoke to NewsOne about what inspired him to provide this day of upliftment for his students. He explained, “I work in an underserved area, so a lot of my kids they don’t – some of them come with their hair cut, a lot of them don’t. A lot of them don’t come with their hair done and they notice it.” He said that oftentimes, his students notice when he comes into the classroom with a fresh haircut, and they complement him.
Prather said that aside from putting his motto “you look good, you feel good” into action, he also wanted to take a load off of the parents. “It just takes a hassle off the parents, take a burden off the parents, so they don’t have to worry about if their kids are getting a haircut,” he told NewsOne. “Or whether they’re getting their hair done. Just something to make them feel good.”
He added that he wanted his “self-care” day to provide his students with some additional joy in time for the holiday season.
Prather said that in order for him to successfully put on the event, he had to call on the community for help. “I knew a couple of people and a couple of people had referred me to some folks, but basically I just reached out and told people what I wanted to do and what I was trying to do for my kids,” the teacher explained. “It was a lot of entrepreneurs. Some people took off work to come, some people had clients and they shut down their shops for a little bit and came and helped me. I was super grateful.
He said that the students were so excited about getting their hair and nails done that they couldn’t wait to return to school the next day to show off their new looks.
“You could tell they felt the joy behind it and the mission of it was to make them feel good,” he said.
Prather shared what he enjoyed most about putting on the event for his students and it was the glee that radiated from them. The gratitude expressed by their parents was an added bonus.
“Everything that comes with it, I love,” he said. “But the fact that the parents felt that way about it and the fact that you can literally see the joy on the kids – and you could see how they respond to it. That’s the one for me. That’s literally what it’s about – them feeling like that. And they show it and they’re not shy about it. I just love that they were able to experience that.”
Prather said that he plans to put on a “self-care” day again in the future, but he will do it on “a bigger scale.”
He added that him being able to put on this event for 40 students “just shows what happens when the community comes together, it shows what we can do.”