Teacher’s Creative “Handshakes” Keep Students Smiling During Covid

David Jamison Handshakes, Instagram/@thedopeeducator

A fifth-grade language arts teacher at Hickory Ridge Elementary School in Memphis, Tennessee, is stealing hearts once again.

David Jamison first went viral in 2019 for memorizing and performing elaborate, individual handshake routines with his students. Now, after his own battle with Covid-19 and months of virtual teaching, the man nicknamed “The Dope Educator” is back in the classroom with a modified way of making each of his students feel special.

“Around this time last year, the school year was canceled because of Covid,” Jamison wrote alongside a video of the socially distanced greetings on Instagram. “I remember being asked in an interview last year, ‘would I still welcome my students with customized greetings once they return?’ My response remains the same, you don’t have to physically touch a child to actually ‘touch’ a child. We don’t focus on what it looks like; we focus on what it can be!”

Over the course of four years, Jamison has memorized the handshakes of 250 students. He says the handshakes are a sign of respect for each student. But they’re just one part of his mission to motivate and inspire.

“When I became an educator, I wanted to create something that they can look at and see that I’m not just about a test score,” he told NBC Nightly News. “When kids see that they have a personalized greeting they are so excited to come to class every day.”

They’re lucky to have you, Mr. Jamison!




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