Fifth grade English teacher Barry White Jr of Ashley Park PreK-8 school in Charlotte, North Carolina started a school trend. He has a personalized handshake for each of his students. Every single one of them.
Good teachers ignite the imagination.
“They know when they get to the front door we do our ‘good mornings,’ and then it’s time to go,” I’m always pumped up and then we start doing the moves and that brings them excitement and pumps them up for a high-energy class,” says White.
How did this trend start?
“I started with one simple handshake last year with a 4th grader,” he explained. “She would wait for me every morning before she’d go to class. She’d get in trouble sometimes for being late because she’d wait on the handshake.”
It took off from there for White.
This year I started making handshakes with the kids at recess. It was just one or two students and then it became contagious,” he added.
“I saw how much it meant to them, so I said,
Come on. Everyone come on.’ Then it was my full class, then it was kids from other classes. Now I have 3rd graders wanting to do it too.”
Each handshake is unique and created based on the student’s personality.
White says remembering each move isn’t as tricky or difficult as most people say.
“It’s muscle memory at this point,” White said. “I do it so much with them. They love coming up to me and doing it. I just know the certain moves that go with certain kids because it’s personalized. For example, I started a step team at the school. Some of my 5th graders I teach are on that step team and you’ll notice we step a little bit in their handshakes.”
One viewer commented,
“The simple fact that he memorized every single handshake says every child is unique to him in a special way.”
The school’s administration certainly loves the energy and enthusiasm White brings to the students each day. Even school principal Meaghan Loftus feels the same way.
“The only way to help our scholars achieve at high levels every day is to embrace the need for meaningful and deep relationships, and Barry’s handshakes represent his own authentic take on building those relationships. When I walk into my teachers’ rooms, I see the impact of those strong and trusting relationships. When kids know their teacher cares, they are attentive, engaged and driven to be successful. That’s the culture we are building at Ashley Park.” She says.
They definitely line up for this.
White took inspiration from his favorite basketball star, Lebron James, after noticing the NBA star’s unique pre game warm up handshakes with his teammates. White says of Lebron and his teammates,
“You see that bond and how close they are, I wanted to bring that feeling into the entire 5th grade.”
The fifth grade teacher says he wants his students to be excited coming to school and this was his way of bringing joy and building trust.
“I’m all about bringing joy to people’s lives and inspiring others to do so.” White says
His handshakes have inspired fellow educators and Barry White Jr. hopes others can start bringing joy in their classrooms.
Watch below to see their handshakes in action. What an impact this teacher is making!
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