Bus Driver Braids 11-Year-Old’s Hair Every Morning, and the Reason is Heartbreaking

RachelKiser_200TallRachel Kiser
Blogger | Mom of Two


Isabella Pieri, an 11-year-old student from Utah, lost her mother to a rare illness two years ago. Philip, her father, works hard to provide and care for his family in the aftermath of losing his wife, which requires him to rise and leave for work before the sun. This leaves Isabella to get herself ready for school alone in the mornings.

I don’t know about you, but when I was 11, I was mildly clueless on how to groom myself. On the brink of adolescence and trying to figure yourself out, it can be difficult to know what to do… especially if the one who normally would teach you, your mother, is gone.

“She’s surrounded by my son and me who can get out of the shower and comb their hair in two seconds,” said her father, Philip. “So she didn’t catch on to how important it was for young girls to take care of their hair.” He would try to help his daughter out by combing her hair, but “she would get mad at me for pulling her hair,” he shares. Eventually, because he couldn’t get the knots and tangles out, Isabella got a pixie cut. It was only a temporary fix.

As her hair began to grow, it became more apparent to one person in particular that Isabella needed some extra help. Tracy Dean, the kids’ bus driver, was the one to take notice of the mess and knots over the course of a year. She feared she would hurt the young girl’s feelings, though, if she offered a hand, so she held back. Then one day another little girl on the bus asked for Tracy’s help. That obviously instilled confidence in Isabella, and two weeks later, she did as well.

“I was so relieved that she asked,” Tracy told Babble. “I thought to myself, ‘Thank you Lord above. Finally I get to help this little girl with her hair.’”

Tracy Dean

The styles started out simple, one french braid or two. They’ve slowly evolved, and every day Isabella comes to Tracy with a new request, sometimes including fun clips or flowers. Tracy gladly obliges- so much so that several young girls now receive their own personalized hair ‘dos every morning before they walk through the front doors of their school.
Isabella’s father says, “One day [Isabella] came home and [her hair] looked beautiful. I call her my princess and she looks the part, she plays the part and her confidence is way up, which is what I’ve been intending.” And he’s not the only one who has noticed. her teachers have commented on how she holds her head higher when she is in class; a result of receiving care when she needed it the most.
Tracy has her own special motivation for styling Isabella’s hair, too. “Seven years ago, I found out I had breast cancer, and that’s one of the things that went through 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 mom’s do. They do their kids’ hair.”
In Isabella’s own words, “It makes me feel like she’s a mom pretty much to me,” Isabella said. “And it makes me excited for the next day to see what she does.” It fills our hearts with joy to know that there are people like Tracy in the world: who notice others and attempt to step into what they’re going through. She has undoubtedly changed this little girl’s life for the better, all because she dared to reach out and braid her hair.



RachelKiser_200TallAbout Rachel Kiser

Rachel is a wife and mother living in Raleigh, North Carolina. She’s a fan of good coffee, wearer of gray t-shirts, and is constantly starting books she will never finish. Her family is her joy, and she loves to engage with other moms and dads on matters of parenting. Her blog posts have also been featured on the Today Show Parenting Blog and Scary Mommy.

View all posts by Rachel Kiser here.

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