Closings and delays

Kindergartners surprise hearing-impaired custodian by signing ‘Happy Birthday’ song to him

TULLAHOMA, Tenn. – Heartwarming video shows a class of kindergarteners in Tennessee surprising their custodian, who is hearing-impaired, by signing the “Happy Birthday” song.

On Tuesday, Hickerson Elementary posted the emotional moment to Facebook with the caption:

“Our Kindergarten classes learned how to sign Happy Birthday for Mr. James’ birthday today. He was so surprised!”

The custodian, identified by The Tennessean as James Anthony, immediately brought his hands to his head in disbelief, his mouth open in a stunned smile.

The school’s principal told Nashville television station WZTV that Anthony is beloved by students, who call him “Mr. James.”

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

Assistant Principal Kathy Crabtree told WTVF that Anthony is hearing impaired, and, while students may have a tough time understanding him, it’s been easy for them to become his friend.

Dozens have commented on the video to wish Anthony a happy birthday, or add their own memories of him when they were students.

“Happiest of birthdays, Mr. James! You haven’t aged a bit,” wrote Elizabeth Fox. “What a blessing you have been to the students and staff of many Coffee County schools.”

“I am 34 years old and Mr James was my janitor at Hickerson as well!!!! GOD BLESS this wonderful man!!!!!!!!!!” Jordan Carter commented.

Anthony has worked for more than 20 years in the Coffee County School system, according to the paper.