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Parkway teacher Judd Pinnix displays a spiked mohawk to help raise funds for his co-worker Donna Raichle, who is battling breast cancer. Photo by Kellen Moore

Originally published: 2013-02-23 18:33:05
Last modified: 2013-02-23 18:35:09

Worth a stare

You might say Parkway teacher Judd Pinnix has gotten a wild hair.

For two weeks, the band and orchestra teacher is sporting a red, white and blue spiked mohawk as he goes about his day-to-day life.

It wasn’t the result of a midlife crisis or too many years of screeching violins — this audacious hairstyle has a benevolent purpose.

Last spring, after learning that Parkway P.E. teacher Donna Raichle had been diagnosed with breast cancer, Pinnix and his co-workers were dreaming up ways to support their friend and co-worker.

Raichle, who was the county’s Teacher of the Year in 2007, interacts with students in all grades through her physical education classes and is an important part of the school, he said.

At the Relay for Life, the school’s team devised the haircutting challenge, and Pinnix began the arduous process of growing out his hair.

For one week this month, three buckets were placed in the school library, each bearing a picture of a hairstyle: bald, cornrows or the spiked mohawk. Students and staff dropped change into the bucket for the hairstyle they wanted to inflict on their teacher.

The mohawk was a runaway. So last Sunday, Pinnix followed through on his promise.

Janelle Krull of Scissorhands Salon, who donated her services for the effort, opened her shop on a Sunday for the cut, bleach and dye job.

“I was a little sentimental,” Pinnix said. “You do get attached to hair to a certain degree.”

Pinnix stopped at a local store after the makeover and got his first taste of life with a deviant hairstyle.

“The reactions in Walmart were priceless,” he said. “We had 2-year-old babies screaming … to people just staring.”

At Parkway and Green Valley schools, where Pinnix splits his time, students and staff were just as amazed. “You look scary!” one student said upon entering the classroom at Parkway this week.

Pinnix now needs a little more prep time in his daily routine to hairspray and apply “hair glue” to his nine-and-a-half inch mohawk. His life has required some adaptations, he said.

“You can’t ride in a car,” Pinnix said. “I even have my sunroof open, and I still have to cock my head to the side.”

But drawing so many curious stares has been worth it, as the fundraiser brought in more than $400 to be donated to Raichle for incidental needs. Even after the contest ended, Pinnix said he has received another $220 from people who have seen his mohawk, asked about it and felt compelled to donate.

Raichle recently underwent her second surgery and is currently home recovering. While she hasn’t seen the hairstyle in person, she said she has been blown away by the support from her co-workers and students at Parkway.

“Judd is not the only one that’s been so supportive; the whole school has just been unbelievable,” Raichle said.

For one more week, Pinnix will wear the now-fading spikes before he buzzes the rest of his head. But he and the rest of the Parkway family will continue to support one another as they have supported Raichle.

“The family atmosphere at this school is amazing,” Pinnix said. “One person hurts, we all hurt. So, it’s just a way to give back to her.”