After Little Girl's Mother Passes Away, Bus Driver Steps In To Braid Hair Each Day


Mothers have a special influence on their daughters. When they are younger, they help their little girls get dressed for school and sometimes even do their hair.

Without that female expertise, it can be hard for girls to learn how to style themselves as they head off to school.

This is exactly what happened to 11-year-old Isabella Pieri. After her mother died from a rare illness two years ago, her father, Phillip Pieri, found himself having to fill the roles of both mom and dad.

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Phillip would leave early for work every day, and taught Isabella how to be fiercely independent and take care of herself.

As a dad, though, he had no idea what to do with his little girl’s hair.

“I originally just gave her a crew cut because I didn’t know how, and it was all tangled and I couldn’t get it out for anything,” he told KSL.

After her hair grew back, Isabella would put her hair in a ponytail. That’s when she noticed bus driver Tracey Dean fixing one of her classmate’s braid.

“You can’t be shy, you’ve got to talk to them,” Tracey told KSL. “You treat them like your own kids, you know.”

Isabella approached Tracey and asked her if she could braid her hair. The bus driver agreed, and now styles her hair every morning.

“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.”

The 11-year-old’s teachers noticed that Isabella’s hairdos have made a difference in the girl’s attitude.

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“I just noticed her head was a little higher that morning,” Mrs. Freeze told KSL, “and she had a little more of a step.”

Tracey, for her part, is glad to help with Isabella’s hair.

“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.”

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith