LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Melissa Funk has been teaching at Waters Elementary for six years. When she started teaching the fourth grade three years ago, she decided to allow her students to come up with a unique way to greet her in the mornings.
“I tell them as soon as they join my classroom at the beginning of the year that they need to come up with the handshake and so it’s very personalized to them, and they get real excited,” said Funk, “Some of them are kind of apprehensive because they’re not sure what to kind up with but they get very excited and can’t wait to show me their handshake.”
Funk said this allows her to have a special bond with her students.
"It makes me feel like I'm doing my job as a teacher, because when students feel safe in their environment, and they're more apt to learn, from what you're teaching and more excited about their learning as well," said Funk.
Miles Collins is one of Mrs. Funk’s students. He said his favorite part of school is his handshake with her in the mornings.
"It makes me feel happy like because she remembers every single student and she tries to make them happy when they enter and leave the classroom," said Collins.
Funk said she got the idea about the unique handshakes from another teacher.
"I watched a video of another teacher doing this with their kids. And so I really wanted to implement it," said Funk. "I was a first-grade teacher for a long time and hugs go a long way with them. But I thought I needed to do something more with my fourth graders to show that I wanted to build a relationship with them."
"She's one of the best teachers in Lubbock," said Collins, "Probably she is the best teacher in Lubbock. She's so nice. She knows her students. She knows her parents."
Funk says it takes about a month to learn each routine.
"This year, I've only had to learn 42. the two years prior, I had three rotations. And so I learned 63 handshakes," said Funk.
She said some of her former students come up to do their handshakes with her.
"A lot of the students come up to me and they'll still want to do their handshakes. And most of them I remember it, they're still fun that they have to remind me but it comes back," said Funk.
Overall, Funk said she wants her students to know, “I want them to know that I love them for one, and this is my calling. This is what I’ve been called to do. And I love to teach. And so I want them to feel like they’re safe. And that anytime they have a problem or issue, they can always come to me and know that I’m there to listen and, and be there their voice of reason sometimes.”