I remember growing up, my mom had a co-worker who was deaf. My mom began to learn sign language as a way to help communicate with her, and I didn't grasp why that was so important. Couldn't she read lips? Or have an interpreter?
But then I started learning sign language too, and one day when I was at my mom's work, I had a (very basic) conversation with this woman using sign language. Her face lit up and she was overjoyed that people were making the effort to make communication easier.
I would imagine that's exactly how "Mr. James," a deaf custodian at an elementary school in Tullahoma, Tennessee felt when a class of pre-schoolers learned how to sing "Happy Birthday" in sign language just for him on his 60th birthday.
Mr. James works at Hickerson Elementary school, where he's been a mainstay for 15 years. Though he's deaf and can be hard to understand, Mr. James is a favorite among students. He is always smiling and making students happy, which is why Ms. Amy Hershman and Ms. Allyssa Hartsfield decided they had to do something special for his birthday.
The teachers spent time teaching their preschoolers how to sign "Happy Birthday," and when Mr. James came in to the room, he couldn't believe his eyes. The custodian threw his hands in the air and was totally stunned.
At the end of the video, you can even see him start to tear up.
Even though it involved a lot of hard work, we all know how difficult it can be to teach kids to do anything, it was totally worth it.
“Mr. James teaches the kids sign language every now and then, teaches them good manners and how to treat other people,” Hickerson Principal Jimmy Anderson said.
"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," said Hartsfield.
The video has been viewed almost 70,000 times, and is going completely viral online. Former students from the school also shared their stories about how nice Mr. James is.
"I love this so so much," said Amanda Crouch. "There wasn’t a day that went by in elementary school that Mr. James didn’t ask me how ball was going! Such a sweet, genuine guy. So proud to be a former Hickerson Hawk."
"Jim James as we called James...he was always in the gym with us during and after the practice!" Mark Margaret Ball recalled. "He played pick up ball with us every time the high school gym was open! We have been friends for a long long time and I miss him so very much! Happy Birthday my friend!"
Our Kindergarten classes learned how to sign Happy Birthday for Mr. James' birthday today. He was so surprised! 💛🖤💛🖤Posted by Hickerson Elementary on Tuesday, October 23, 2018