Story of teacher who created special handshake for each of her 22 students continues to warm hearts

Claudine Varela
Dec 12, 2018
05:07 A.M.

This third-grade teacher gave a new meaning to the term hands-on. Every morning she greets each of her 22 students with a unique handshake and it’s impressive.


Jerusa Willenborg is an elementary teacher in Kansas who dedicates time, effort and a lot of memory in greeting her students every day. Before her third-grade students enter their classroom, they line up outside and are met at the entrance by Willenborg who performs a flawless routine involving handshakes.

Each student has a distinct handshake, making every greeting a special one. What is even more impressive is the fact that she has 22 students, resulting in 22 types of handshakes.


Willenborg does the same routine every morning, a performance that she’s nailed to a tee at the time it was recorded on video and the clip went viral. Each handshake is elaborate with fist bumps, hugs, claps, and dance moves and every student owns a specific combination. It’s amazing how Willenborg memorized all the handshakes. But that’s probably because she’s been doing it for four years now and students are loving it.



According to the dedicated teacher, the idea started when a student requested a special greeting. Speaking to Inside Edition, she recalled,

“I just had a student who wanted something more than a high-five and knuckles and he kept adding on to it every day and the rest of my kids wanted one and it just hasn't stopped.”

As for how she memorized each handshake, Willenborg said she has a technique.

“I look them in the eyes and I know their handshakes. I have them do it at least three times in a row so that it sticks to both of us.”

It’s never perfect, she admits, often times making mistakes like her students do. Regardless, it is pretty meaningful. She laments,

"It is special between me and that one student. That one student knows I care about them."



The lengths to which Willenborg went to greet her students every day reminds us of what one fourth grade teacher did to welcome his students ahead of the first day of school. Dwayne Reed intended to entice his students to show up in class so he produced a music video called “Welcome to the Fourth Grade.” In the clip, Reed raps his introductions to an upbeat tune while moving from one section of the school to another. He introduces himself, his class and what students can expect while changing costumes and shifting backgrounds. He uploaded the clip on YouTube and tagged his students and their parents ahead of their first meeting. His video was an instant hit that even news outlets got wind of it. Reed even appeared on “Good Morning America” due to the popularity of his innovative greeting.

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