Even Covid-19 can’t stop this fifth-grade teacher’s treasured handshake tradition

Ama Nunoo Apr 5, 2021 at 02:00pm

April 05, 2021 at 02:00 pm | Opinions & Features

Ama Nunoo

Ama Nunoo | Staff Writer

April 05, 2021 at 02:00 pm | Opinions & Features

David Jamison is motivating his students each morning with personalized handshakes. PHOTO CREDIT: INSTAGRAM/@THEDOPEEDUCATOR

A dope educator in Memphis, Tennessee, with a great memory and enough love for his students, has memorized over 250 personalized handshakes which he uses to welcome each student to class. David Jamison is on a mission to motivate students at Hickory Ridge Elementary School even as they return to in-person class after the long COVID-19 break.

“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 to BOTWC.

Jamison went viral in 2019 for doing these handshakes with his students and everyone lauded him for his thoughtfulness and effort to make these students feel special. So, for four years, Jamison knows the names of each student and knows which handshake routine goes with who.

To him, it is a sign of respect for each student. After he suffered the virus himself last year, he now has an even greater calling to make the most of each time with his scholars. He believes that one does not need to touch someone physically to make an impact on them.

The welcome back routine for the fifth-grade language arts teacher and his students is now a socially distanced one.

“Around this time last year, the school year was canceled because of Covid,” Jamison, who refers to himself as “The Dope Educator,” 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!”

For Jamison, he wants the kids to see themselves past a test score. He uses these handshakes to show love and motivate them. “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 personalize greeting they are so excited to come to class every day.”

What’s more, research shows that a young Black child who has had at least one Black male educator increases their chances of attending secondary education, Jamison, who is completing his fourth year in education, told BOTWC.

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