In these dark times, we need real heroes more than ever, and we may have found one in the humble surroundings of a junior school in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Because if being called Barry White Jr wasn’t already cool enough, the 5th grade teacher greets every single one of his students at Ashley Park PreK-8 School with a personalised handshake.
He told ABC News: “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.”
He explained that each handshake contains custom moves inspired by the student’s personality, saying “I started with one simple handshake last year with a 4th grader. 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. This year I started making handshakes with the kids at recess. It was just one or two students and then it became contagious. 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.”
White plays down the impressiveness of the feat of remembering all of the complex moves, saying, “It’s muscle memory at this point. 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 personalised. 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.”
He said he was inspired to do it after watching his favourite basketball player LeBron James do the same thing with his Cleveland Cavalier teammates.
“You see that bond and how close they are. I wanted to bring that feeling into the entire 5th grade.”
White’s actions have got the thumbs up from principal Meaghan Loftus, who said “The only way to help our scholars achieve at high levels every day is to embrace the need for a meaningful and deep relationships. 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.”
What a legend. You go Barry.