Mueller Elementary teacher uses special handshakes to connect with students

Published: Feb. 2, 2017 at 7:42 PM CST
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Since Ms. Willenborg's video has gone viral, she says it has been a whirlwind.

“It started last night. It was a little overwhelming. My phone was blowing up. I had to turn it on silent, because I had papers to grade. I had work to do!”

Her class was beaming with excitement, since the video has been seen millions of times.

“I think it is very awesome, because we got a whole bunch of views. If I had Facebook I would have been watching that video all the time,” one young man told us.

Ms. Willenborg says she never thought a simple gesture could gain this much fame, but hopes the kindness can gain the same kind of momentum, the handshake video has seen.

“It’s just so great to see all over the world that there are still some people. I hope that it goes viral just like the video. I really do.”


A teacher at Mueller Elementary School in Wichita is getting a lot of attention on social media after learning special handshakes for each of her 20 students.

Jerusha Willenborg said she was high-fiving and fist-bumping her students at the end of the day, when one student added a little something extra.

"He added on to it. Then, everyone wanted a handshake," says the third-grade teacher.

Willenborg started doing unique handshakes with each of her students three years ago. She's continued the tradition this year, her first at Mueller.

"It makes me feel like Miss Willenborg has my back," says Harmoni, one of Willenborg's students.

"The kids don't always make good choices. They are amazing kids, but you know, they're kids. At the end of the day, they give me their handshake, whether they had a good day or not, they leave that day knowing I still care about them," says Willenborg.

The handshakes have now gone beyond the teacher-student relationship and spread student-to-student.

"I made a handshake with one of the students here," says Harmoni. "Her name is Navaeah. We've been practicing a long, long time. We do our handshake just because it's fun."

We posted the video of Willenborg's handshakes with her students to our Facebook. It's already been shared more than 10,000 times.