IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (East Idaho News) — It’s always a teacher’s goal to find a way to get the student’s attention, but Thunder Ridge High School chemistry teacher Dennis Hummer had no idea that he would grab the attention of millions of people around the world through Tik Tok with only the shoes on his feet. Even weirder, it wasn’t his idea.
Back in October, high school student and Tik Tok-er Elijah Johnson noticed that Hummer’s “shoe game” was far above what he would normally have expected, and had to get the word out. This is when he started compiling videos.
“He’s a teacher, first of all, so when he was pulling up with the Jordans every day, and nice Nike running shoes, I was like, ‘Oh, this would be a good idea to post and show everybody how fly my teacher is,’” Elijah explained.
So he was off, recording around 20 different days where Mr. Hummer came in with his kicks.
Johnson posted his first shoe video on May 5th to his Tik Tok page @wavyblackginger, where it has been viewed over 2.7 million times. It got so big that he posted a “teacher reveal” video with Hummer the next day that was viewed an additional 418,000 times.
But the original video spread far beyond Elijah’s account. Overtime Kicks posted the video on their page where it would find another 2.9 million views. Bleacher Report followed suit by posting it on their Instagram page with 4.2 million views, their Tik Tok page with 111.8K views, and their Facebook page with 3.9 million views. The video was posted on its shoe specific page “brkicks” as well.
Through those channels alone, Johnson’s video has been viewed close to 14 million times, and has accumulated over 1.7 million likes.
To Hummer, wearing the shoes is a fun way where he can do something for himself that connects with his students. Thunder Ridge High School allows the teachers to dress down a little bit on Friday and some Thursdays, which is when Hummer can wear them.
His collection all started with his YouTube account “dchummer CHEMISTRY”, where Hummer would post videos for his chemistry students to review. After putting a couple hundred video’s on the channel, a student suggested that he monetize the content, which he decided to do about seven years ago.
After that, Hummer would notice a check for $100 or $150 coming through the mail. After teaching multiple classes at different schools to provide for his family, Hummer, with the approval of his wife, decided that he was going to use the YouTube money to do something fun for himself – hence the shoes.
“I’m gonna do something that I have something to show for it, so I can actually see it and handle it and use it, and so I started buying sneakers,” Hummer tells EastIdahoNews.com.
Both Elijah and Hummer agree, however, that this ‘fun’ and ‘light’ video is exactly what people have been needing, and that is why it got so big.
“I think it’s a breath of fresh air,” Hummer said. “When it comes to school, everything they’ve seen and heard is dealing with COVID and people wearing masks and people arguing about it, fighting about it, just having discussions and it seemed to be, to me, stressful for the kids. They see something like this which is totally fresh, totally different and, in my opinion, completely innocent in the ways of the world.”
Elijah agrees, and adds that the secret to making a viral video is just simply about sticking to the themes that you value.
“Be you,” he said. “Keep posting, don’t give up if you’re not getting a lot of likes on (Tik Tok). Just keep posting your videos and keep being you.”
After years of teaching students, Hummer is grateful for students like Johnson who have fun and are good kids.
“We hear a lot of bad things about teenagers and the trouble that they get into, but (Elijah) is the exception to the rule,” he said. “He’s a good kid and exemplifies what I think teenagers are today.”
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