Charlotte, NC, Teacher Bonds With Students Through Personalized Handshakes

NBC Charlotte via Facebook video screenshot
NBC Charlotte via Facebook video screenshot

We all have that one teacher we remember fondly—the one who pushed us just a little bit harder or was always funny in class or took extra time to make sure we got the learning in the lesson. Some teacher somewhere made an impact on our lives, and maybe it was more than one.

For fifth-grade students at Ashley Park Elementary School in Charlotte, N.C., that teacher may very well be literacy teacher Barry White Jr.

WCNC reports that while most teachers start class by taking attendance, White starts his day with his students by doing a special handshake with them. It is his way of engaging his students and connecting with them.


“The most critical component is the relationship, the rapport you build with your students, because sometimes it can go underrated or overlooked,” White said. “Before I am able to deliver a substantial amount of content to them, they have to invest in the teacher.”

White told WCNC that he wants his students to be excited about school. He began creating individual handshakes with his students to bring joy and build trust.

White got the idea after watching LeBron James doing handshakes with his inner circle and decided that it would be a good idea to bring to the classroom.


He first tried it out with a student from another class, and from there the handshakes “became contagious.”

White now has a personalized handshake for every one of his students in his three classes, and WCNC reports that he also has handshakes with volunteers, fellow educators and students in other grades.


“I’m all about bringing joy to people’s lives and inspiring others to do so,” White said. “That’s really why I do [the handshakes], to bring joy to them.”

Read more at WCNC.

News Editor for The Root. I said what I said. Period.

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This is pretty fantastic; mine would be alternating between intense eye contact and staring with molten terror at his hand because I just know I’ll miss his with mine.