Kindergartners Learn Sign Language to Sing 'Happy Birthday' to Deaf Custodian

Custodian James Anthony has been working with the school for 15 years.

A deaf custodian at a Tennessee elementary school was left in shock as a kindergarten class surprised him with a special happy birthday song in sign language. 

James Anthony, 60, has been working at Hickerson Elementary School for 15 years, so teachers were eager to do something special to show their appreciation.

"James is really special to us," school nurse Angela Ridner told "He just has a special connection with the kids."

Although he can read lips well, teachers at the school make an effort to show the kids little phrases in sign language so they would be able to communicate with him. 

“They keep picking up little things like how to say, 'Thank you, I love you,' in sign language," Ridner said. "I think they are comprehending how special it is to learn to speak to him how he understands."

So for Anthony’s birthday on Tuesday, teachers Allyssa Hartsfield and Amy Hershman, taught the kids how to sign the happy birthday song.

In a special moment captured on camera, Anthony is totally stunned at the gesture.

"He was just overjoyed," Ridner said. "It was really special. He appreciates it whenever we are able to learn signs."