And now, a desperately needed pull on the ol' heartstrings--in a good way!
James Anthony, has been a custodian at Hickerson Elementary School in Tullahoma, Tennessee for 15 years. He recently turned 60 years old. Some of the children at the school decided to surprise him for his big day--not with a party or a cake, but something even better.
Anthony is hearing impaired, and loves to teach the kids a bit of sign language now and then. So kindergarten teachers Ms. Alyssa, Ms. Amy, and Nurse Angela taught the class how to do the "Happy Birthday" song in sign language. Anthony could barely contain his delight at the heartwarming display,
The school posted the video to its Facebook page, where it quickly went viral:
In the video, Anthony seems overcome with emotion, first laughing aloud, then seeming to tear up, jaw agape at the adorable show.
"He was overwhelmed with it," school secretary Bonnie Scott told McClatchy news service. "It just was a spur of the moment thing and they just did it. He had his hands over his face, at the end he was tearing up. It just touched him."
Scott also said that Anthony has been a big help to some of the students at the school who have trouble communicating:
"We've seen him sign a couple of times with the little ones who don't communicate well, and they're learning sign language with him."
Hickerson's Principal, Jimmy Anderson, also spoke of the special bond Mr. James has with the kids, telling local affiliate FOX 17 News, "Mr. James teaches the kids sign language every now and then, teaches them good manners and how to treat other people."
On social media, Hickerson alumni and others from the local area posted their well wishes for Mr. James too:
I love this so so much. There wasn’t a day that went by in elementary school that Mr. James didn’t ask me how ball… https://t.co/wDPwWM2dRl— Amanda Crouch (@Amanda Crouch)1540353110.0
@FOXNashville Mr James has been loved in Coffee Co for a long time. Such a nice man. Happy birthday!— Jake Shelton (@Jake Shelton)1540401799.0
Even strangers were nearly as moved as Mr. James was!
@HickersonSchool Thank you Kindergarten students, teachers, and Nurse Angela for sharing this experience. I know M… https://t.co/ptKHubSPnx— Jimmy Lee Anderson (@Jimmy Lee Anderson)1540347208.0
@FOXNashville https://t.co/EOrCZ6QIjQ— Ohio Boy (@Ohio Boy)1540406450.0
@FOXNashville Custodians are so overlooked for their commitment to our children. Good job, kids.— Kevin D White (@Kevin D White)1540395250.0
Annnnnnd I’m crying. Love these kids, love this teacher, love Mr. James! https://t.co/MsgozDu1e7— Kelly Rippin WESH (@Kelly Rippin WESH)1540396777.0
@FOXNashville @Gnash00 My god the world needs more of this— Dustin Fleming (@Dustin Fleming)1540393945.0
Here's to you, Mr. James!