Every fifth grader is wishing their teacher was this cool, and every parent is wishing their children’s teacher was this engaging.
ABC News’ video of Barry White, Jr. that surfaced Wednesday (Feb. 1), welcoming each of his students into the classroom with personalized handshakes is making our hearts dance. The Ashley Park fifth grade teacher started his elementary school epidemic with just one fourth grader claiming, “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.”
Eventually the Charlotte, North Carolina educator took his engaging talents to the black top during recess where a multitude of kids got excited and requested to join in on the dapping-up madness. He claims that from there he had the idea to start this as a classroom tradition, and soon enough kids from other grades were asking for a hand in all the excitement.
“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.”
But White doesn’t credit himself or the adrenalized pupils of the elementary school to the animated welcome gesture. The teacher is a big Cleveland Cavaliers fan, and assigns his inspiration to his favorite baller, King James and the rest of the Cavs squad. “You see that bond and how close they are. I wanted to bring that feeling into the entire 5th grade,” he said.
The Ashley Park administration is just as pleased with the teacher’s dedication to bringing enthusiasm to the classroom. Principal, Meaghan Loftus had this to say about White. “The only way to help our scholars achieve at high levels every day is to embrace the need for a meaningful and deep relationship.” Loftus continues, “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.”
Hats off to Barry White, Jr. for showcasing black excellence during Black History Month and with such a sonically iconic name.