A teacher at Fresno’s Tenaya Middle School has become an internet sensation after showing off his dance moves on campus last week in a video that has since been viewed millions of times around the world.
Teacher Austin LeMay didn’t even have a TikTok account before the video went viral over the weekend.
In an interview with The Bee, LeMay said he opened his account Sunday. He had nearly 73,000 followers by Tuesday. For those unfamiliar with TikTok, that’s a lot of followers.
The video of LeMay was shot by Jenny McCauley, an onsite school counselor. She said the gathering is a regular Friday occurrence.
“This was totally by accident,” McCauley told The Bee. “It’s something that we do every Friday. This isn’t out of the ordinary. It’s just an ordinary Friday with millions and millions of views.”
As of Tuesday, the video had been viewed nearly 30 million times.
“This year, especially coming off from COVID and coming off of not being at school for a year and a half, we’ve really gone above and beyond to make every week a good fun week, and so we’ve been doing dance-offs and dance battles and group dances all semester,” LeMay said.
McCauley said LeMay dancing with students was just “LeMay being LeMay” it just so happened that the song “You’re a Jerk” by New Boyz was trending when she posted the video.
“This is my seventh year teaching, and I have a bit of a long-standing tradition at the schools that I’ve worked at to act a fool from time to time and dance when I hear music, and when the time calls for it,” LeMay said.
The dance, Jerkin’ or Jerking, originated in Los Angeles in 2009 when the hip hop group Audio Push released “Teach Me How To Jerk”; that same year, New Boyz released their song “You’re a Jerk.”
LeMay said he knew the dance because it was a dance he used to do in high school when he was a senior in 2009.
Now that McCauley and LeMay are TikTok famous, they said they are not sure what they will do next, but they want to build off of the momentum they currently have.
“We’ve been really trying to let people in our community know exactly what we’ve been doing on campus,” McCauley said. “Coming back on to campus and making sure that we do put fun as a priority as well as academics, but we want fun to be up there too.”
For LeMay and McCauley, the viral video’s success comes down to the “positive culture” teachers and have been creating for students.
“I think especially today if you want to take today as anecdotal evidence, there are a lot of kids that are excited to be a Tenaya Brave because their teacher made a big enough fool of himself to go viral on the internet,” LeMay said.