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‘Didn’t Have Teachers Who Looked Like Me’: Memphis Teacher Who Went Viral for Having Unique Greeting for Each Student Featured In Gap Advertisement

A Memphis educator who went viral in the past after a video circulated of him greeting each of his students with a unique handshake is being featured in a new Gap ad campaign along with his pupils.

Hickory Ridge Elementary School Teacher David Jamison, aka “The Dope Educator,” made the announcement on Twitter on July 25, writing, “I have a national commercial with Gap airing July 27th with my students! Also, we’re going to be on billboards and print ads everywhere. All God!”

A billboard for the American clothing retailer was unveiled at an invitation-only pep rally at the school. The ad campaign began July 27 and will run until Aug. 22, focusing on the back-to-school season.

“When I was a kid, I was always in trouble at school,” explained Jamison. “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.”

Global Head of Marketing for Gap Mary Alderete stated in an interview how Gap’s back-to-school strategy, “as well as the story behind Gap’s creative, said Alderete, “inspires representation, inclusion and optimism, to welcome kids back as they return to in-person learning this 2021.” 

Hickory Ridge Elementary School teacher David Jamison, aka “The Dope Educator,” is being featured in a Gap campaign with his students: Photo: GAP YouTube screenshot.

In December 2019, Jamison shared a video of himself greeting 75 students with an individual handshake. The video was viewed millions of times on social media and picked up by major news outlets.

“It increases that bond with the students,” he told “GMA” at the time. “When you have that kind of relationship with a kid, they don’t want to let you down because they know you love and care for them.”

Jamison adapted his handshakes amid the pandemic and a video shared to social media showed him greeting students in a socially distanced way.

“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,” he wrote.

According to Alderate, Jamison embodied the optimism amid a return to in-person learning, after some students learned virtually for more than a year.

“We want to continue to use our platform for modern American optimism; individuality and believe that cultural expression is relevant,” she said.

Gap traveled to Memphis and met with Jamison and his students where they witnessed the connection he has with his students. The company worked with the school to provide uniforms and Gap logo hoodies.

“We’re sending kids back to school GAP style. Most of my kids, they’re from underserved communities. I’m so grateful that they get to experience this moment with me,” said Jamison.

A billboard is on display in Times Square and the students are featured with Jamison in a video ad.

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