Memphis Educator Greets More Than 200 Students With A Personalized Handshake Daily


April 2, 2021

This guy is doing the work!

A Memphis educator greets more than 200 students daily, each with a personalized handshake.


After nearly a year of virtual learning, students in Memphis are finally returning to school. And while many children have a lot to look forward to, getting out of the home and seeing their friends again – for the 5th grade English Language Arts class at Hickory Ridge Elementary, they just can’t wait to see their teacher. 

David Jamison is finishing up his 4th year in education. Motivated by the lack of Black men in the school system, Jamison decided to start his educational endeavors by adding a little pizzazz to his everyday routine. He created personalized handshakes with each of his students. What began as a fun way to say hello each day has now blossomed into so much more, with Jamison having more than 250 handshakes that he gives out to his students each day. As children return to school, many can’t wait to see Mr. Jamison and perform their unique greeting, this time with a bit of social distance. 


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A post shared by David Jamison (@thedopeeducator)


“[Black men] only make up 2% of [educators]. Research shows that a young Black child who has had at least one Black male educator increase their chances of attending secondary education,” Jamison told Because Of Them We Can.  A personalized greeting sends a message to a child that they are more than just a test score. You have to be able to catch the fish before you can clean it. The inspiration [for the handshakes] came from me wanting to motivate my scholars for class while simultaneously showing them the importance of love and human interaction.” 


Jamison memorizes their greetings on the first day of school as well as their names; then, he says all their names as they come in. Jamison says he feels like these little gestures make all the difference, and honestly, he doesn’t believe it’s that difficult despite how it sounds. 

“I’ve always had a great memory growing up and even had a secret handshake with my best friend of 20+ years. I remember what’s important to me. My scholars are important to me. This small gesture goes a long way. It creates an atmosphere of love and vulnerability. Allowing students to be completely open with me; even sharing with me troubling encounters that they have at home,” said Jamison.

With all that the young people have experienced this last year, his goal is to return some normalcy and fun to their lives, one handshake at a time. He hopes that his story inspires other educators to go above and beyond for their students.


“I want all educators to understand that we have the most important job in the world. We are helping to shape the future generation of leaders. We must also prepare students for life. Many kids are good seed but planted in bad soil. It’s our job to nurture that environment so the seed can flourish, reaching its fullest potential. Don’t just be average. Be a Dope Educator. Our babies deserve it,” he said. 

To follow more of Jamison’s work, follow him on Instagram @TheDopeEducator.

Thank you for all you’re doing, David! Because of you, they can!


Photo Courtesy of David Jamison

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