A patio behind Shades Cahaba Elementary transitioned into a hair studio one afternoon in May as 12 girls lined up with ponytails, ready to have at least 8 inches cut off. These members of the Lots of Love club were donating their locks to children in need through the Children With Hair Loss program. Each year the club’s monthly meetings addressing issues girls face culminate in “cut day” in May—and this year their club sponsor Lisa Lucas participated too. To learn more about the club for fourth and fifth grade girls, we chatted with Lisa, who has teamed up with fellow teacher Rebecca Smith to lead it for the past 10 years.

How did the club start, and what do your meetings look like?

I was teaching first grade, and I had a student I couldn’t emotionally reach and wanted to do an after-school club to talk about issues girls face. Now many of the younger siblings of those students and more are participating. At the beginning of the year, we give them an assessment about their worries and fears, and then we come up with a curriculum and pull books and videos and games on the topics. We talk about frenemies, teasing vs. bullying, anxiety, sibling rivalry, New Year’s resolutions and goal setting. It all gives them the language they need at home.

What guests have you had come?

We had a dermatologist come talk about skin care: washing your face, staying out of the sun, good habits. A couple of years ago, we had Rebecca’s mom and my mom talk about our relationships and how even as adults we need our moms. We also asked girls from the middle school to come talk to the girls, since one of their biggest fears is going to middle schools. They were enthralled, asking about changing in the locker room, bullies, etc. Most of the middle school girls said they wish they hadn’t worried as much.

Why do you encourage the girls to participate in the hair donation?

It’s quite the ephemeral moment to have all of the girls cheering each other on as they give selflessly to someone else in need. It’s not a requirement, but it’s a good way to give of yourself and help a girl in need. The next day is the awesome part when they come to school and get so much attention. It’s a vulnerable, selfless thing.

You got your hair cut this year. Do others participate?

We have had older girls come and a mom participate one year. Our principal did it one year.  We had an eighth grader come and ask if we are still doing “that haircut thing,” and she did it. My daughter and I did it when she was in kindergarten, and she’s in fifth grade now. This year we had a younger sister, a first grader, participate.

Tell us more about the stylist on the cuts.

I went to high school with Brett Morrison who owns Dave’s Pizza, and he told me to talk to Monir Emaish from Saxx Hair Design. He has volunteered every year and has two girls in the Homewood system.