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Joy

Security cam captures assistant principal and student's joyful mutual birthday celebration

"Love is the curriculum," says Assistant Principal Ford.

screenshots showing a man joyfully greeting a student

Arnold Ford shares a birthday—and birthday joy—with one of his students.

When Arnold Ford went to work on his birthday in February of 2024, he knew he was in for a treat. One of his students, a girl named Cali, has the same birthday as he does, and Ford was ready.

As soon as he saw Cali come bounding down the hallway with her arms spread wide, the assistant principal tossed his backpack aside, swooped the girl up and spun her around in joyful celebration. Then the two raced down the hallway, arm in arm, so Cali could give him a balloon and a cupcake she had saved for him.

All of this was captured on the security cameras at west Philadelphia's Mastery Charter School, Mann Elementary, and the footage has people cheering for amazing educators.


"I’m so grateful to God for allowing me to see another year," Ford wrote when he shared the video on his Instagram page. "I’m even more grateful that LOVE continues to be the centerpiece of my entire life."

"And… as you can see… I’m also grateful that I get to share a birthday with one of my favorite students," he continued. "And yes… she brought me a balloon and a cupcake, and in exchange, I told her she could dress down today. Fair trade if you ask me!

Watch:

People are gushing over the exchange in the comments.

"Do y'all teach 25th grade!? I need an elementary school experience do-over!" wrote one person.

"Bro my own parents never been that happy to see me 😭," wrote another.

"Can you imagine marinating in that love on a daily basis? What a gift this man is!" shared another.

Several people pointed out that no one else in the video so much as blinked, which is a testament to the fact that this wasn't out of the ordinary. Clearly, Mr. Ford brings this energy to work every day.

"I think it’s important for us to celebrate WITH our students and families," Ford tells Upworthy. "[Cali's] birthday is a big deal to her, and so is mine. We talk about it ALL year. So when that day came, what you saw was just a natural, genuine reaction that we both had. She was excited to be celebrating me, and I was excited to be celebrating her."

Educators like Ford can make such an enormous difference in children's lives, transforming a school into a place filled with positive interactions where kids know people genuinely care about and enjoy being around them. That's what Ford loves about his job as well.

"It really is the reciprocal nature of the work," he tells Upworthy. "We get so much more than we ever put out. Love. Joy. Laughter. The more we sow those things, we see them return exponentially in this work. That’s why when I often say 'Love is the curriculum,' it’s because I recognize how blessed I am to be able to put positivity and joy at the center of my experience with them. It’s humbling."

"In other words, I love that I don’t have to wait until Fridays to get paid." he adds.

Here's to Mr. Ford and all of the dedicated, incredible educators out there who pour their love into helping children learn and grow and thrive. They really do deserve all the balloons and cupcakes—and all the pay raises as well.

You can follow Arnold Ford on Instagram.

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