Teacher who came up with personalized handshake for every student teams up with Gap

A Memphis teacher has gone from an inspiration in his classroom to a nationwide icon for Gap Kids’ latest back-to-school campaign.

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In 2019 David Jamison made national headlines with his dozens of different handshakes that were given to his fifth-grade students at Hickory Ridge Elementary School every day. Last year, they were adapted as non-touch greetings due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Since he started teaching, Jamison has come up with more than 200 different handshakes, according to a company news release.

Jamison became a teacher after he said he grew up with no Black male teachers, which taught him that representation matters.

“When I was a kid, I was always in trouble at school,” he said in a Gap news release. “I realized that part of the reason why is because I didn’t have teachers who looked like me. I didn’t have someone I could relate to. When I decided to become a teacher, I not only felt called to help change representation in education, but to be a role model kids need. Experiences in early childhood education shape who we are the rest of our lives. I am honored to play a role in the lives of my students and our handshakes are just a small piece of the change I hope to create. It’s our job as a community to nurture all children so they can flourish and reach their greatest potential.”

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Jamison’s connection with his students is being featured in the company’s fall advertising program, which was unveiled during an in-person pep rally that was held to welcome students back to in-person learning.

The advertisements show how Jamison considers each of his students as individuals.

Gap also donated school uniforms to help the students at Hickory Ridge Elementary School.