Math teacher sports Mohawk hairdo — to raise funds for classroom gear

It’s more than a stunt. Find out why this outer East Portland teacher is sporting this unconventional hairstyle …

Parkrose High School math teacher David Whitfield says that displaying his unconventional hairstyle is helping to raise money for classroom document cameras.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Speaking with a professional clipped British accent, David Whitfield – a calculus, algebra and geometry teacher at Parkrose High School – seems a most unlikely candidate for a Mohawk hairdo.

“I’m growing it because we’re getting pledges from kids and staff members to raise money to buy document cameras for the math department,” he explains.

A document camera is like modern-day overhead projector, Whitfield told us. “For example, when teaching math, if I’m drawing a graph on graph paper, I can use exactly the same graph paper that the kids are using, and they’ll see it projected onto a screen. Or you can project a book, or a student’s example of their work.”

Whitfield said he feels fortunate that his classroom is very technologically-advanced. “But some of our other classrooms have very poor technology. A document camera would be a good piece of technology for a fairly non-technological classroom.”

He said the video cameras cost about $300 each. “We have spare video projectors we can put into service.”

Whitfield says he hopes the necessary funds can be raised by Christmas vacation – for a very personal reason.

About his hairstyle, Whitfield commented, “I sometimes do get a funny look [from people]. But the kids think it’s great. I’m sure we’ll raise enough money to secure the document cameras by Christmastime.  I’d be very disappointed if we don’t.”

Asked why, Whitfield replied, “I’m going back to England for the holidays. My 86-year-old father said he is not taking me out for Christmas lunch if I’m wearing a Mohawk.”

You can chip in towards this cause: Drop off a donation at the Parkrose High School office during business hours.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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