Kindergarten Class Stuns Beloved, Deaf Custodian by Signing ‘Happy Birthday’ Song

By Li Yen, Epoch Times
March 12, 2019 Updated: March 18, 2019

It’s always a wonderful feeling when someone surprises us on our birthday—it never fails to make us feel extra special, if only for one day out of the year. Sometimes it comes as a birthday card or possibly, if we work in an office, a surprise sitting on our desk.

One of the most time-honored ways to wish someone a happy birthday, though, is to sing it.

For James Anthony, custodian at Hickerson Elementary School—known to the students simply as “Mr. James”—singing “Happy Birthday” would not have done much good, however. You see, Mr. James is deaf.

Nurse Angela is "Under the Weather" and James is "on cloud 9".

Hickerson Elementary 发布于 2018年10月31日周三

The custodian of 15 years at the Tullahoma, Tennessee, school was loved by all the kids who went there.

“Mr. James teaches the kids sign language every now and then, teaches them good manners and how to treat other people,” Hickerson Principal Jimmy Anderson said.

So, when his 60th birthday rolled around on Oct. 23, 2018, they decided to surprise him with something extra special.

Mr. James had no idea what was about to unfold when he walked into the kindergarten classroom that day and saw all the students waiting for him. Led by teachers Ms. Allyssa Hartsfield and Ms. Amy Hershman, as well as Nurse Angela Ridner, the students signed to him, with their little hands, the “Happy Birthday” song in sign language.

Our Kindergarten classes learned how to sign Happy Birthday for Mr. James' birthday today. He was so surprised! 💛🖤💛🖤

Hickerson Elementary 发布于 2018年10月23日周二

“The kids were super excited,” Hershman told GMA, “they learned that song in probably five minutes.”

Seeing the unexpected birthday surprise unfold right before his eyes, Mr. James was speechless. Eyes wide and mouth agape, he threw both hands up into the air and grasped his head in amazement, and gave out a joyous bellow of laughter.

By the end, Mr. James was wiping away tears from his eyes. He was without a doubt deeply touched by the kids’ adorable performance.

“He was overwhelmed with it. It just was a spur of the moment thing and they just did it,” Secretary Bonnie Scott told McClatchy. “It just touched him.”

“After it was over, he said, ‘This is the best birthday present you could’ve given me,’” Hartsfield recounted.

Angela Kimbril Ridner 发布于 2018年10月25日周四

Thankfully, the emotional moment was captured on video and then posted on Hickerson Elementary School’s blog page along with a caption, which read, “Our Kindergarten classes learned how to sign Happy Birthday for Mr. James’ birthday today. He was so surprised!”

Now, the heartwarming post has gone viral, garnering nearly 16,000 likes and over 100 comments.

“I am 34 years old and Mr James was my janitor at Hickerson as well!!!! GOD BLESS this wonderful man!!!!!!!!!!” commented one former student. “The best schools teach the kids to genuinely appreciate their building custodians. The lesson sticks.”

Illustration – Shutterstock | Fh Photo

“As an educator, I have no shame in saying this video brought tears of joy to my eyes,” another person remarked. “What an amazing group of teachers to show these kids the value of doing positive things for other.”

Sometimes the smallest gesture of kindness can make a huge difference in someone’s day. Thank you teachers at Hickerson Elementary School for leading the kids to show some love for dear Mr. James!

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