Phyllis Belcher, Brandon Elementary special education teacher, now has a cute, short haircut. Two weeks and 18 inches longer hair ago, Belcher decided in the middle of the night that she wanted to share an experience with her students about giving of yourselves, literally. This would be the sixth time that she cut and donated her hair to an organization that would use it to outfit young cancer patients with wigs.
“My cousin’s daughter had breast cancer while she was pregnant and handled it with such grace and dignity,” Belcher said. “I knew I wanted to cut my hair in honor of her and donate it.”
Her spur-of-the-moment idea to include her students became a teachable moment.
“We read the book Nowhere Hair by Sue Glader about a mom going bald and not having the energy to spend with her daughter,” Belcher said. “We talked about our school theme, ‘Be Kind,’ and how we don’t make fun of others. I told them the story about how I lost my front tooth playing baseball and how I felt different. My para, Mrs. Crystal Santander, had everyone sign a get well card for the person who receives the wig with my hair.”
Belcher said the lesson included an academic component, the theme of the school and a life lesson all wrapped up in one.
She said her students were “absolutely shocked” when she came into the classroom with short hair.
“Some said they missed my long hair. Others said it was a cute change,” she said. “Some didn’t want to touch it; some did and said it was soft.”
This time around, Belcher used Locks of Love to donate her hair. She’s used other companies in the past, but Locks of Love does not charge children who need wigs.
“If you want to donate, your hair must be 10 inches minimum, no bleach,” Belcher said. “It can be dyed and even gray.”
Originally from Las Cruces, New Mexico, Belcher came to Texas to attend Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Waxahachie. There she met her husband of 37 years. She has been in the education business for 24 years. The couple have three sons and three grandchildren.
Anyone who knows Belcher knows that her love of horses is an obsession she’s had since she was young. She has ridden her horse, Faith, for 366 miles this year through national forests, her land and on trails. She has ridden horses in seven states.
“My goal is to ride horses in every state,” she said.
Belcher is also a nursery director at church. She loves to crochet and quilt. And reading is a passion.
The best part of teaching students is the “Aha moments” — “the moment their face lights up,” she said.
“They read a word or do a math problem or learn something about life — something to make life easier,” she said. “‘Aha moments’ are when you know you’ve made a difference in a life.”