By Megan McCluskey
April 3, 2018

After 11-year-old Isabella Pieri lost her mother to a rare illness two years ago, she had no one to help her style her hair. But thanks to her bus driver, Isabella now arrives at school each day with a freshly braided ‘do.

According to KSL-TV, Isabella’s dad initially gave her a short crew cut following her mom’s passing because he didn’t know what to do with her hair and he leaves early for work. So when she decided to grow the cut out, she was left to her own coiffing devices.

Luckily, once she saw her bus driver, Tracy Dean, fixing a classmate’s braids, Isabella knew where to turn for assistance. Dean now braids Isabella’s hair more mornings than not.

“You treat them like your own kids, you know,” Dean told KSL of the act of kindness. “Seven years ago, I found out I had breast cancer, and that’s one of the things that went though my head — who is going to take care of my little ones? Not that my husband couldn’t do it, but you know, that’s what moms do. They do their kids’ hair.”

“It makes me feel like she’s a mom pretty much to me,” Isabella explained. “And it makes me excited for the next day to see what she does.”

The new tradition affects more than just the young girl’s appearance. One of her teachers, Mrs. Freeze, commented to KSL, “I just noticed her head was a little higher that morning, and she had a little more of a step.”

See more about the heartwarming daily ritual below.

Write to Megan McCluskey at megan.mccluskey@time.com.

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