It has been two years since Isabella Pieri’s mom passed away from a rare illness – but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have a community to step in and carry on some of the more female tasks.

Isabella’s father has been doing his best to fulfill the responsibilities of both a mother and a father, but there were certain things he could not figure out, such has helping the 11-year-old with her hair.

At one point, the youngster’s locks got so tangled that her dad had to give her a hair cut.

Once Isabella’s hair had grown out, she became resigned to simply wearing her hair in a no-fuss ponytail – but then she saw her school bus driver, Tracy Dean, braiding another student’s hair.

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Isabella got the courage to ask the bus driver if she could braid her hair as well; and Dean has been styling her hair every morning since.

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

Their morning hair appointments do more than just give Isabella stylish hairdos for the school day, too – they gives her confidence, validation, and a daily dose of tender love from a motherly woman.

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“It makes me feel like she’s a mom pretty much to me,” Isabella told KSL. “And it makes me excited for the next day…”

The Salt Lake City, Utah bus driver says she has had a special connection with the kids since she was diagnosed with breast cancer 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 moms do. They do their kids’ hair,” Dean told the station.

(WATCH the video below)

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