On the last day of school at Mount Paran Christian School in Cobb County, Georgia, a group of 2nd-graders couldn’t wait to show their admiration for their beloved school security guard, Jonathan Broaxnax.
The students crossed the street to shower Broaxnax with hugs and high-fives, a heartwarming moment caught on the school’s security camera.
“I've got to tell you, it made me feel so good,” Broaxnax, 63, told ABC News. “Not only because they did that, but because it’s what this school is all about. It’s a Christian school and they instill that into these kids.”
The military veteran, who now works for the Chesley Brown International security company, said the children’s kind gesture was particularly special for him in light of the recent attack on a concert in Manchester, England, where many children were in attendance.
“They’re young but they’re seeing it on TV and they wonder ‘Why?’ and ‘What the heck is going on?’ and ‘Can that happen to me at my little school?,’” he explained. “They were saying things like, ‘Thank you for protecting us, thank you so much Mr. Jonathan, thank you for keeping us safe.’ You can’t hear the sound on the video, but that was what they were actually saying. Oh man I tell you — if the video ran just a little bit longer, you would see me run inside and cry.”
Broadnax said out of all the jobs he’s had in his life, working with these kids is by far the most fulfilling.
“I’ve been in the military for 22 years, I’ve been to the Gulf War, I got out of the military and started to work in the prison system in Texas,” he recalled. “I worked there for about five or six years and then I got into security. Out of all of that, this is the most fulfilling job I have ever had. Easily.”
This isn’t the first time the students and faculty have showered Broadnax with admiration and affection. He said they were pivotal in helping him through the darkest moment of his life: the death of his son two years ago.
“I lost a son while I was working here and this place, everybody here was so incredible,” he said. "The support they gave me here was awesome. After I got back from the funeral, the kids came up to me again and each one of them had handwritten cards of condolences. I’ve got all those cards at home. That was just so incredible. And I couldn’t hold it in. I cried right there.”
The school’s headmaster, Dr. David Tilley, said Broadnax is cherished on their campus.
“He is beloved around here,” said Tilley. “It’s amazing how many people come onto our campus for the very first time and see him and walk into my office before they go anywhere else and say, ‘Let me tell you, the guy who welcomed us at the front gates is one of the most gracious, cordial, hospitable men they’ve ever come across.’ He is warm and kind and loving to anyone he comes across. He is a thrill to have on our campus and he’s the first face people see.”
But the humble Broadnax takes absolutely no credit for his service to the school, saying simply, “It’s focused on those kids.”
“It’s focused on how they feel, how they feel safe. And how they’re being raised,” he said. “And what it means for them to attend the Mount Paran Christian School.”