Meet the High Five Guy

It’s “cheesy,” he admits. But it’s making a difference.

Eric Burtness’s passion for teaching not only shows in class, but in between.

The Irondale High School social studies teacher has a high five for every student who passes his room on his or her way to the next class.

“I just think the high five is something fun,” he says. “It’s impersonal yet personal at the same time.

“There are kids who make a U-turn just to come back and give me a high five.

“And just today, there was a girl who walked by and said that this is the best part of her day. I was like, ‘Wow, that means a lot to me, as well.”

Burtness, who’s in his third year of teaching, started the high fives almost from the get-go. He’s so famous for them, now, that he’s known as the High Five Guy not just in school, but beyond.

In fact, once, in a drive through at a nearby fast food restaurant, the cashier asked him for a high five.

“It makes me happy to be here,” Burtness says. “It’s one of the best parts of the job, just getting out, connecting with students…and letting them know that somebody’s looking out for them.”