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A big group of kindergartners doing anything in unison tends to be sweet, but this video takes the cake.

A school community is made up of much more than just students and teachers. From lunch servers to janitors, people who help keep schools running smoothly are important. And they can have a much bigger impact on kids than we often acknowledge.

The students and faculty at Hickerson Elementary School in Tennessee have a special relationship with their custodian, Anthony James. The joyful janitor known as "Mr. James" has been with the Coffee County School District since 1991, and had been working at Hickerson for 15 years. Those who know him describe him as "sweet," "selfless," and "always smiling."


For his 60th birthday, the kindergarteners sung—and signed—the Happy Birthday song for Mr. James.

Mr. James is hearing impaired. So kindergarten classes taught by Mrs. Allyssa Hartsfield and Mrs. Amy Hershman learned how to sign the words to the Happy Birthday song to surprise him. And surprise him they did.

The school shared the video on Facebook, and people are loving it:

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

Teaching kids to honor differences and appreciate every member of a community is a beautiful thing.

The video has struck a chord with alumni of Coffee County Schools and people everywhere. As the alumni sharing their memories of Mr. James in the Facebook comments attest, the dedicated custodian is simply receiving a dose of the joy and kindness he has spent decades spreading himself. It's clear that the love between Mr. James and the students in that community is mutual.

But the clip also shows how a simple gesture can mean so much to someone who communicates in a different way. The reaction of Mr. James to the students' surprise couldn't be more delightful, and those kids have now learned first-hand what a difference learning someone's language can make. What a wonderful gift to give someone who has given so much to so many kids for so long.

Happy Birthday to you, Mr. James!

A breastfeeding mother's experience at Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo is touching people's hearts—but not without a fair amount of controversy.

Gemma Copeland shared her story on Facebook, which was then picked up by the Facebook page Boobie Babies. Photos show the mom breastfeeding her baby next to the window of the zoo's orangutan habitat, with a female orangutan sitting close to the glass, gazing at them.

"Today I got feeding support from the most unlikely of places, the most surreal moment of my life that had me in tears," Copeland wrote.

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RumorGuard by The News Literacy Project.

The 2016 election was a watershed moment when misinformation online became a serious problem and had enormous consequences. Even though social media sites have tried to slow the spread of misleading information, it doesn’t show any signs of letting up.

A NewsGuard report from 2020 found that engagement with unreliable sites between 2019 and 2020 doubled over that time period. But we don’t need studies to show that misinformation is a huge problem. The fact that COVID-19 misinformation was such a hindrance to stopping the virus and one-third of American voters believe that the 2020 election was stolen is proof enough.

What’s worse is that according to Pew Research, only 26% of American adults are able to distinguish between fact and opinion.

To help teach Americans how to discern real news from fake news, The News Literacy Project has created a new website called RumorGuard that debunks questionable news stories and teaches people how to become more news literate.

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Family

A mom describes her tween son's brain. It's a must-read for all parents.

"Sometimes I just feel really angry and I don’t know why."

This story originally appeared on 1.05.19


It started with a simple, sincere question from a mother of an 11-year-old boy.

An anonymous mother posted a question to Quora, a website where people can ask questions and other people can answer them. This mother wrote:

How do I tell my wonderful 11 year old son, (in a way that won't tear him down), that the way he has started talking to me (disrespectfully) makes me not want to be around him (I've already told him the bad attitude is unacceptable)?

It's a familiar scenario for those of us who have raised kids into the teen years. Our sweet, snuggly little kids turn into moody middle schoolers seemingly overnight, and sometimes we're left reeling trying to figure out how to handle their sensitive-yet-insensitive selves.


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