For most of us, Tuesday is just another day of the week. The weekend was just here two days ago, and you probably tell yourself, “if I make it to tomorrow at least that’s hump day, and I’ve only got two more days till Friday

Matilda Hartley Bowties and Pearls
Matilda Hartley Elementary School students wearing their bow ties and pearls. Photo by Rodricka Foreman.

For the students of Matilda Hartley Elementary School, located at 2230 Anthony Road in Macon, Tuesdays aren’t just another weekday. Tuesdays are not dreaded – they are anticipated at Matilda Hartley Elementary.

Every Tuesday, the students at Matilda Hartley are greeted at their vehicles. They are welcomed by a smiling staff member who opens the car door for them and closes it as well. As they are helped into their backpacks, there are cheery good mornings and happy hellos.

Once they enter the building, they are greeted by community volunteers, who address the students with nice compliments.

The teachers, staff, and volunteers smile at the students, telling them how great they look, and wishing them well in their day. The volunteers this week were the barbers of Razor Line Barber Shop, located at 1381 Pio Nono Avenue in Macon.

On Tuesdays, the students are not in their typical uniform attire. The boys are in suits, or shirts with a collar and nicely-pressed slacks, and each one has on a bow tie. The girls wear dresses or skirts accented by pearls. Some wear pearl bracelets, others pearl necklaces, or earrings.

One would think the students are dressed for a special ceremony or banquet at the school, but they are not. It is just Tuesday.

At Matilda Hartley, Tuesdays are known as “Bowties and Pearls” Day, and this is why the male students wear bowties and the girls wear pearls.

The assistant principal of Matilda Hartley Elementary, Karen Cromer, says that the school incorporated the “Bowties and Pearls” day every Tuesday to “help coincide with our “Leader in Me” program.

“Leader in Me is where we are trying to instill leadership skills into all of our students,” Kromer explains. She hopes that “Bowties and Pearls” will show students how to dress when they are going out in the community representing themselves.

“For our fifth graders, “Bowties and Pearls” helps them for career day, so it will also help them to understand and know what it is to look professional and how they are supposed to look when they are going out for career opportunities later on in life,” says Kromer.

Kromer also stated that “on Tuesdays they’re pretty, they’re cute, and that’s how they act.” Maybe there is something to the idea that when students dress the part, their behavior follows, as Kromer also noted that on Tuesdays, the school has the least amount of “problem behaviors” compared to any other day.

Self-image is an important aspect of self-esteem, and by teaching children how to dress nicely, the school is helping to build their self-esteem. In turn, the children reflect their positive self-image by behaving in a manner that is positive and respectful. It all makes sense.

For the men of the Razor Line Barber Shop, they say that they come as a team on Tuesdays because they love the children and want to support them by doing anything they can to brighten their day, including complimenting the children’s efforts to look good.

“The youth is our future and so we want to make sure we play our part in the community and put forth diligent effort to impact the children in our area in a big way,” says Louis Foster, a barber and volunteer from Razor Line Barber Shop, who is also a self-proclaimed humanitarian.

The men from Razor Line Barbershop hope that by volunteering their time at Matilda Hartley, others will see and follow suit.

The Barbers of Razor Line are serious about their dedication and commitment to Matilda Hartley Elementary. They will be hosting a “Hartley’s Books with Barbers” event on November 13, 2017, from 9a-12p. The barbers will be providing free haircuts to the boys while the children read books to them from the school’s media center.

Along with the men from Razor Line Barbershop, there are others who have dedicated their time to “Bowties and Pearls” and Matilda Hartley. Community volunteers like Reginald Parsons, Charles Jackson, Tyra Murphy, and Blake Sullivan are avid volunteers at the school, and they can be found working in the school whenever their schedule allows them.

Mr. Sullivan has been generous enough to donate many bowties for students and he contributes funds to the “Leader In Me” program. “I just try to give them another person to talk to,” says volunteer Charles Jackson.

“I just want to be able to reach THAT ONE,” Jackson adds, referring to that one child who needs to have an adult reach out and lift him or her up, that one child whose life is changed for the better because of a caring adult.

From the smiles and the behavior changes at Matilda Hartley, I am sure that Assistant Principal Kromer, Charles Jackson, the Barbers of Razor Line, the staff, and other volunteers will succeed in their goal of being able to make a difference and reaching “that one.”

As the “Bowties and Pearls” day continues to grow at Matilda Hartley Elementary School, so is their need for more bowties for boys and pearls for girls. Anyone interested in volunteering or donating bowties or pearls to the school can contact Cartese Dillard, Family Engagement and Community Outreach Liaison at Hartley Elementary at (478) 779- 2500. The school notes that traditional colored pearls are preferred but are grateful for any color costume pearls that are donated. All colored bowties are welcomed as well.