Tennessee Kindergarteners Serenade Deaf Janitor On His Birthday

Tennessee Kindergarteners Serenade Deaf Janitor On His Birthday

A 2018 video has resurfaced on Instagram showing a kindergarten class singing and signing "Happy Birthday" to a deaf janitor at their school.

A video from 2018 is resurfacing on social media of a kindergarten class at Hickerson Elementary School in Tullahoma, Tennessee, who serenaded a deaf janitor on his 60th birthday.

In the video shared on Instagram by Inside History, the elementary students at the STEM-designated school stood together on a large rug as they signed and sang “Happy Birthday” to James Anthony, who is known around the school as Mr. James. A teacher and what appeared to be a few other staff members sang along with the elementary students as Mr. James stood at the front of the classroom in a long-sleeved black shirt, blue jeans, and his work boots. According to the history and entertainment page, the students learned sign language for the custodian, who appeared excited about the surprise.

The video, which has reached viral status since it was posted on Nov. 19, has garnered over 11 million views and one million likes. The Instagram community has flocked to the news page to express their thoughts on the janitor’s surprise. “This is what happens when you have a teacher who cares. The students love it, they see how something so simple as learning some sign language makes a deaf person feel cherished and wanted. Love this ❤️,” one user commented.

Another user named Melissa Bryce, who seems to have known Mr. James, wrote that the janitor is “a legend in our little town.”

Bryce continued, “He has a hyper-awareness of his surroundings at all times. Although he is deaf, he has adapted to reading lips, so we don’t have to know sign language to communicate with him. As a community, we take care of James just as he has us. This video goes far beyond just one birthday.”

She noted that Mr. James is a long-time employee of the school system. “This teacher chose to give back the love he has given us, and yes, it gives us chills each and every time we see it ❤️,” Bryce added.

Hickerson Elementary School posted the original video on its Facebook page on Oct. 23, 2018. “Our Kindergarten classes learned how to sign Happy Birthday for Mr. James’ birthday today. He was so surprised!” the post read. Facebook users at the time commented about their admiration for gestures from the teacher and students. Other users also chimed in with “Happy Birthday” messages to Mr. James.