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Gap welcomes kids back to school with Hickory Ridge Elementary and "The Dope Educator"

"The Dope Educator" and his 5th grade class star in the new GapKids Campaign inspiring representation, inclusion and optimism

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Gap is welcoming kids back to school for the 2021-2022 school year with Memphis' own educational changemaker, David Jamison.

Jamison is "The Dope Educator" at Hickory Ridge Elementary School, whose infectious spirit and individual approach to students is an inspiring tribute to the good that stems from passion, care and kindness

The GapKids’ Fall campaign captures the charisma and bond between Jamison and his fifth-grade students, who represent INDIVIDUALS; Gap’s collective of unique changemakers across generations, leading the charge for a more inclusive, optimistic world together.

Jamison's personalized and unique handshakes with his students each morning threw him into the national spotlight in 2019. While adapted to be socially distanced and non-contact in 2020, the tenacity, excitement and hype remains the same. Over the course of his career, he has memorized over 200 distinct handshakes, reinforcing students as important INDIVIDUALS. 

He decided to become a teacher after his own experience without any Black male educators taught him that representation at school matters.

“When I was a kid, I was always in trouble at school,” said David 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.”

“Jamison’s approach to teaching and commitment to his students as INDIVIDUALS is inspirational and heartwarming,” says Mary Alderete, global head of Gap marketing. “He is equal parts champion and role model. Back to school is even more meaningful when many students are returning to the physical classroom for the first time in over a year. One of his students told us she loves being in his class because she can be herself and that is the essence of GapKids - being an individual who is true to yourself, encouraging others, instilling empathy and optimism, and being the change this world needs.”

The creative plays tribute to Gap’s modern American optimism rooted in music and dance with a soundtrack set to daily mantras from Jamison’s class – phrases like, “Who are we? We are the Rockets!

To kick off the campaign and celebrate the students starring within, Gap installed the iconic GapKids images of Jamison and his students on school grounds. 

The billboard was revealed Monday at a pep rally, welcoming Hickory Ridge Elementary back to school. Gap also donated hundreds of school uniforms to support the students and families at Hickory Ridge Elementary School.

The GapKids campaign will debut on Tuesday, July 27.