For parents, a note from the school bus driver doesn't usually bear good news. But Princeton, New Jersey, bus driver Cindy Clausen likes to let parents know when her young passengers stand out for all the right reasons, too.
Clausen, 60, who has been driving for the Princeton public schools for 23 years, sent a note to the parents of two of her young riders last week to tell them "how beautiful your children are, inside and out!"
She wrote that the children, Annaliese and Jorge, showed compassion and support to a fellow rider, 7-year-old Jaxson Blue, who has a degenerative condition that makes it hard to walk.
"Every day, your children ask if they can sit with Jaxson," Clausen wrote. “Today, Annaliese looked out from around her seat and said, 'Come on Jaxson, you can do it,' and when we arrived at school, Jorge took it upon himself to carry out his backpack.
“I know you know how wonderful your children are, but I wanted you to know that it shows!”
The note, which was posted on the Facebook page Love What Matters, received more than 45,000 likes and was shared more than 3,000 times in less than a week.
Clausen, who has two grown daughters and four grandchildren, told TODAY Parents that Jaxson smiles when he sees Annaliese and Jorge. She said she “felt compelled to write the letter because that particular morning, Jaxson was a little slow and a little sad, and that stop was taking us a little bit longer.
"On their own, the kids already on the bus just took it upon themselves to support Jaxson with their kind words and actions. It totally warmed my soul and made me feel so proud of all of them!"
She said she has written a few similar letters over the years. "I see the moms and dads so concerned when they put their kids on the bus, probably wondering, 'Are they OK? Is it going to be a good day?'
"I try to support them and let them know that we all care and their child is in good hands. Life is a handful at times."
Jaxson’s mom, Belmax De Jesus, said she thinks the attention Clausen's letter is getting is "wonderful."
"The children's behavior toward Jaxson is exemplary, and I'm sure it stems from the home," she told TODAY Parents.
"The parents are raising amazing children, and we need more news like this spread around the world."
Clausen said that from where she sits, the kids are all right. "I do see and experience many acts of kindness with 'my kids' on the bus," she said. "I love listening to their conversations, I love all their questions and I love the fact they love showing me and my aide, Miss Ana, their artwork and school projects.
“We just want the kids to know we care about them."