Are We Being Petty? White Teacher Accused of Copying Special Handshake With Students

The internet has been abuzz ever since Barry White, Jr., a fifth grade English teacher at Ashley Park PreK-8 School in Charlotte, North Carolina, was featured on ABC News for creating a personalized handshake with each of his students.  Watch it here:

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Yesterday, another video emerged featuring, Jerusha Willenborg, an elementary school teacher at Mueller Elementary School inWichita Kansas, doing the same thing with her students. Watch here:

According to reports, Willenborg has been creating unique handshakes with her students for over 3 years. She even said so in this post:

But some people are still mad. One viewer stated:

The reason why it matters who did it first is because it was a black male teacher. He tapped into an authentic part of his experience to connect with the kids on a personal level. It worked well on a multitude of levels. Pablo Friere (I can’t explain who he is right now but he was an authority on pedagogy) would caution this becoming popular or trendy. The elaborate handshakes are more that just a cool thing to do. It’s actually an old part of the urban culture in communities of color. Engage the culture, yes. Inauthentically mimic it, no. A LOT of teachers mess up by mimicking the behavior without first understanding the nuances in the behavior they’re seeing.

What do you think? I’m not going to lie, I was a little annoyed because it seemed like she did the EXACT same thing as the male teacher. However, I think the media is to blame here, not the white teacher. The videos showing the teachers doing the handshakes were rolled one after the other, so it seemed shady. It seemed as though one teacher was copying the other, but clearly, as her social media post indicates, Jerusha has been doing this for some time.

Sound off below!
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8 Comments
  1. Hello Lisa,

    I am a former educator and while I’m super excited that the young black teacher received recognition for going above and beyond, I would like to point out that he is using a technique called “Threshold,” from a very popular book on teaching techniques called, Teach Like A Champion. Many schools actually require teachers to do something similar with every student when they enter the room. It was required two years ago at the school where I taught.

    So to answer your question, it’s petty, but likely because the general public doesn’t know about what’s going on in schools these days.

    BTW, Love your blog!

    Torri

  2. I just don’t have the energy to get up in arms about this one. With so much else going on in world I’m going to let her have it. We should all know by now that the media loves to glorify white people, and if it’s a white person helping Black folks that’s even better. Being a teacher is hard work and it’s a job I wouldn’t want so big ups to her for putting in the extra work.
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  3. If it works for any child, then use it. It should always be about them and what is best for them. More teachers needs to think outside the box.

    Preschool Teacher

  4. My opinion is that the teacher is seeking some type of self-satisfaction based on her stereotypes of what black children do or should do.
    If they were questioned, they might not even like these handshakes.

    Sadly, it appears to be a ritual. What if they aren’t in the mood for this? Will they fear an F in her class or other retribution ? I definitely feel that it should be stopped.

    1. I’m quite sure this wasn’t forced upon them to participate. If so this would be bigger news and an even bigger issue!
      Also quite sure she wasn’t seeking anything other than sharing an intimate moment with her students and paying it forward.
      For all we know the students could’ve suggested it!
      Either way u look at it, This is the problem with negative “opinions” on social media. Negativity manifests way easier than positive these days. That’s what’s sad.

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