National News

Lancaster County teacher greets students every morning with a personalized handshake

Posted November 10, 2017 10:38 a.m. EST

— Every morning before class begins, 6th grade teacher Matt Himmelberger greets each of his homeroom students at the door with a personalized handshake.

"I think it really sets the tone for the day," said Himmelberger.

Each students handshake is completely unique and tailored to their individual interests or personalities.

"I have students that play sports and involved sports in it and I have students who just have had that handshake with a friend in the past that maybe moved away so it`s something special to them that they`ve really owned and kind of run with," explained Himmelberger.

Himmelberger has 20 homeroom kids which means 20 different handshakes to remember.

"It took about 3 weeks," explains Himmelberger. "I`m really big on if a student makes a mistake I want them to learn from it so I kind of showed them that if I made a mistake, I did it again until I got it right."

Himmelberger says he got the idea after seeing another teacher do it and thought it would be a good way to build a stronger bond with each of his homeroom kids.

"That was something that I felt would really help me connect with the kids and establish a line of respect and rapport between them and myself," said Himmelberger.

Himmelberger's been a teacher in the Solanco School District for 5 years and his passion is evident, making sure every student feels important.

"Every single one of us has one of those people that we go back to and you can think 'this is what I remember that person for,' you don't always know what it is as a teacher or educator but the kid remembers it and these kids are going to remember Mr. Himmelberger for those things," explained Assistant Principal, David Beard.

Beard says that is one thing that is key in building success in the classroom.

"You have to get the kids to school first to learn and they learn from the people they feel good about," said Beard. "It's about how you make people feel and Mr. Himmelberger's doing that."

Inside Mr. Himmelberger's classroom, that is a lesson they are ingraining one handshake at a time.

"It allows me to personally say good morning to them and start their day right, to know I`m there for them and to just listen and hear what they have to say," explained Himmelberger. "I think it just kicks it off in a good way."

Himmelberger says he plans to continue this with other homeroom classes in the future.