Those of you needing some sunshine in your day today, we’re going to share some with you. When kindness and singing kindergartners come together, you are guaranteed to feel the warmth.

Students at a Tennessee elementary school beamed as they gave a sweet surprise to a member of the staff. They performed “Happy Birthday” for the school custodian, James Anthony, in American Sign Language!

Mr. Anthony is a beloved member of the team at Hickerson Elementary School in Tullahoma, and he is also hearing impaired. To help him celebrate his 60th birthday, the students were taught how to sign by teachers, a nurse, and aides.

In this video posted to the school’s Facebook page, you can see Mr. Anthony – whom the kids refer to as “Mr. James” – expressing his surprise and joy. As the children sing and sign at the same time, he looks on with amazement, laughing and smiling. By the end, he’s cupping his face and is moved to tears.

You will be smiling through your happy tears with this one right along with him. Although his hearing is impaired, Mr. Anthony has the ability to read lips. He’s been working for the district since 1991 but at the school for 15 years, where he’s treated like family by the adults and kids alike.

In an interview with Nashville’s Fox 17, school principal Jimmy Anderson said that he is considered a role model for the kids and that they adore him:

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

Knowing his birthday was approaching, teachers Amy Hershman and Allyssa Hartsfield wanted to plan something big. They put together the whole thing and worked with the children to teach them how to sign.

Since the video was posted this week, it’s racked up nearly 200,000 views and made national headlines. People all over the world are sending birthday wishes to Mr. James through social media too.

This beautiful moment also comes on the heels of National Custodial Worker’s Recognition Day, which serves to show appreciation for custodians and the hard work they do each day. It’s an occasion where children shower their thanks on their “school heroes” with cards and high-fives.

Mr. James, like many other janitorial workers, is respected, loved, and considered a friend by the students. What’s awesome is not only the fact that these young kids are being taught how to communicate with sign language, but they’re also learning how to be kind to everyone.

Go ahead and cut some onions while you watch this touching clip over and over. There aren’t too many things that are as adorable as a chorus of tiny voices singing “Happy Birthday.” And we know that Mr. James will probably remember this 60th birthday gift for the rest of his life.

Did you have a legendary janitor in school who was loved like Mr. James? Were you moved by this cute video?


News Channel 5