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Teacher wins the hearts of his students with personalized handshakes for each of them

North Carolina teacher greets students with special handshakes

Ashley Park, N.C., teacher Barry White Jr. greets each of his fifth-grade students with a personalized handshake.
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Ashley Park, N.C., teacher Barry White Jr. greets each of his fifth-grade students with a personalized handshake.

Pretty soon every kid in America will want Barry White Jr. as a teacher.

By now, many have probably seen the viral video of White greeting his fifth-grade literacy students with their own personalized handshakes.

They’re highly choreographed, these exuberant greetings. High-fives. Claps. Twirls. Shoulder shrugs.

Every student gets one, every day, as the students line up at the door of his classroom at Ashley Park PreK-8 School in Charlotte, N.C.

His routine first went viral in September when the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District posted the video to its Facebook page. By now, the video has been viewed more than 32 million times.

White, a Cleveland Cavaliers fan, told NBC Charlotte he was inspired by LeBron James’ special handshakes for his teammates.

“You see that bond and how close they are,” he told ABC News. “I wanted to bring that feeling into the entire fifth grade.”

He first personalized a handshake for a student in another class, and when he saw how positively she responded to it, he decided to do it for “all 60-plus students,” he told NBC’s “Today” show.

“It was so powerful. It was just so simple, so I decided, you know what? I’m going to bring that feeling to my whole entire grade, fifth grade,” he said.

The handshakes helped him bond with his students, which was his goal.

“The most critical component is the relationship, the rapport you build with your students because sometimes it can go underrated or overlooked,” he told NBC Charlotte.

“Before I’m able to deliver a substantial amount of content to them, they have to invest in the teacher.”

The students help create their own routines, which they practiced during lunch and recess. They learned them quickly.

White also created handshakes for students in other grades, teachers and school volunteers. On Thursday, during an appearance on the “Today” show, he created personalized handshakes for each of the hosts.

It’s not hard to remember them all, he told the “Today” folks. “It’s muscle memory at this point,” he said.

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