'Shave Dave' — Teacher surrenders hair for a cause

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Autumn Santa, a Kalispell Montessori parent, and Tyler Petek, a fourth-grader, work on the  hair of teacher David Cummings as part of the "Shave Dave" fundraiser.

Kalispell Montessori Elementary teacher David Cummings put on a smile Monday after having his head shaved into polka dots and his beard transformed into an extreme handlebar mustache.

The artistic barbering work by a parent and a student capped a fundraising lottery at the school.

The winner of the lottery, fourth-grader Tyler Petek, got to choose the beard and hairstyles and colors.

The hair work capped the second annual “Shave Dave” fundraiser. He will wear the look for a week before his head will be completely shaved.

Cummings teaches fourth through sixth grade at Kalispell Montessori.

This year, Cummings was parting with a full head of hair to raise $666 to pay part of the $7,500 cost for Montessori training and certification to teach seventh and eighth grade.

The school currently has first through sixth grades.

“I saw a need for a middle-school alternative to the public middle school and we have the space to do it,” Cummings said.

He will travel to Houston in a month for seven weeks of training and return in summer 2014 for an additional two weeks.

Cummings said expanding to middle school education has been in discussion for about four years. Kalispell Montessori Principal Renee Boisseau said he will be the first teacher to have middle-school training.

Boisseau said the move into secondary education was driven by parent interest. She noted that offering seventh and eighth grades will reduce the number of transitions students have to make to middle school and then high school.

“The least transitions they can make the better,” Boisseau said.

The goal is to begin offering the upper grade levels as a pilot program with current students after Cummings completes training and implements the program in 2014.

Cummings briefly explained how the Montessori middle-school education will differ from the elementary levels: The core philosophy of inquiry-based and multi-age learning will remain, but students will be more independent and involved in real-world application that will help students answer the age-old question, “Why am I going to need to know this?”

Reporter Hilary Matheson may be reached at 758-4431 or by email at hmatheson@dailyinterlake.com.

Teacher David Cummings with his new hairdo.

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