"He inspired me to do well in school," Kamarian Fox tells PEOPLE

By Michelle Boudin
Updated December 07, 2015 02:10 PM
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Credit: Courtesy Mike Shelton

Kamarian Fox was always a good student. But as a fourth grader, he really kicked it up a notch – and it’s all thanks to a special deal he made with his neighborhood barber.

In August, the 9-year-old went to get his haircut the weekend before school began, and he and the barber, Mike Shelton, immediately hit it off.

“I was talking to Kam and realized there was something different about this kid,” Shelton tells PEOPLE. “He’s super bright and respectful. We were talking about how he did well in the third grade, but he knew he had to step up his game for fourth grade.”

Shelton, 33, who rents space at the Next Level Barber Shop in Gastonia, North Carolina, came up with a plan on the spot.

“I thought I should do something to give him incentive to do well,” he says. “I just said, ‘Look man, I know you’re nervous and have butterflies, if you make straight A’s and bring me the report card to prove it, I’ll cut your hair for life, as long as you make straight A’s.’ ”

Kamarian says Shelton’s offer was on his mind as the school year began.

“I was motivated from that,” the elementary school student tells PEOPLE. “He inspired me to do well in school.”

So much so that Kamarian recently returned to the barber shop – with his report card in hand.

“The little dude comes back in and honestly, I forgot about the deal,” Shelton admits. “He walks up to me, hands me a piece of paper and he said, ‘I got all A’s. I’m ready to get my free haircut.’ ”

The barber bumped him to the front of line as other people in the store started clapping – Kamarian’s mom among them.

“I think what Mike did is amazing,” Cameron Fox tells PEOPLE. “Knowing he had somebody in his corner was so important for Kam. He’s always been a good student, but this was his very first straight-A report card.”

Mike, who has a 5 year old son of his own, just hopes when other people hear the story, they feel compelled to make a positive impact in someone’s life.

“Every community has a Kam, and if you can inspire a kid, a teenager or an adult, you never know what something small will do for somebody,” he shares.

Kam says he plans to sit in Shelton’s chair every two weeks – and not just for the haircuts.

“It was more about Mike,” he says. “He’s a very nice man, and I believed that he believed in me.”