Kindergarteners surprised their deaf custodian by signing ‘Happy Birthday’

Facebook / Hickerson Elementary

It takes a lot to make the school day run smoothly. The parents, the principal, the teachers, and the custodians all play a crucial role. So in honor of one janitor’s birthday, a kindergarten class planned a sweet surprise to make him feel extra special.

James Anthony is deaf and has worked as a custodian at at Hickerson Elementary in Tennessee for 15 years. On his 60th birthday, a group of kindergarteners showed just how grateful they are for all of his hard work by signing “Happy Birthday” using American sign language (ASL).

The performance was led by teachers Amy Hershman and Allyssa Hartsfield, who taught the children to sign the song as a surprise for Anthony.

He was clearly moved by their efforts, and thankfully — they caught the big reveal on video. His reaction was shared on the school’s Facebook page:

As you can see in the video, Anthony was overcome with emotion as he watched the children sign “Happy Birthday” to him. It was a successful surprise indeed!

The school’s principal, Jimmy Anderson, told Fox 17 News that the children adore Anthony, and he’s much more than a custodian.

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

With this video, which has been viewed nearly 300,000 times online, Anthony did more than put a smile on the faces of his coworkers and the students. He shared a bit of joy with anyone who viewed it:

“James is awesome, and is always saying how much I put a smile on his face, but today he has definitely put smiles on faces all around the world,” one of the teachers, Hartsfield, told News Channel 5.

Anthony told Fox 17 News that the kids sweet gesture “touched his heart.” Aww!

This isn’t the first time a group of students have come together to do something nice for a custodian at their school, either. The students at Bristol University in the UK collected money through a crowdfunding campaign to raise enough to send custodian Herman Gordon on the first vacation he’s been able to take in years.

Gordon was also extremely surprised by the students’ kindness, and said that moments like these were indicators of how much you’re loved.

“When you see things like this, you know that somebody loves you,” he said upon receiving the money that was raised on his behalf.

Remember to show school employees just how much you appreciate their efforts to help children learn and grow into be kind human beings!

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Augusta Statz
I have a B.F.A. in Writing from the Savannah College of Art and Design. I’m an avid writer with a genuine sense of curiosity. I feel the best way to absorb the world around you is through fashion, art and food, so that’s what I spend most of my time writing about.

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