Freshmen Marshall Lennard, Parker Stone, and two other students were pleasantly surprised when they caught the 198 bus, just recently, to Northwood High School in Pittsboro, North Carolina.
Bus driver Clarissa Neal had learned the students scored straight-As on their report card and said she would reward them. The next day each student received $100 in cash.
Neal dismissed speculation that she may be wealthy and explained her grand gesture was meant to encourage the students to work hard in class.
“One of the students on the bus said ‘Are you rich? I said ‘No I am not'” Neal told WRAL. “I did just take the money that I make, and I said I needed to give it to these students because they did so well … that’s more than money to me, seeing that somebody gets the knowledge that they need to continue and be successful.”
She has only driven the bus since January and works a second job doing administrative work at a child care center. She said she is not worried about paying her bills because she believes the heavens are taking care of her.
“I may not have money. I have my health, I have my strength so the Lord it maketh rich,” Neal said. “I don’t have to worry about my bills being paid. They will be paid, I know that because his words say that and I believe that.”
WOW! Chatham County bus driver gives $100 to students with straight A’s (fr WRAL) https://t.co/k1m1PTvzjw
— Chatham Magazine (@chathammagazine) March 25, 2019
Lennard could not believe his eyes when Neal gave him the $100 and greatly appreciated her kindhearted gesture.
“I thought she was joking at first but when I showed up on Monday it was pretty interesting,” he said. “I was very grateful and I wasn’t really sure if she wanted to give it to me at first but I was very grateful for that offer.”
Stone was expecting to receive much less than the $100 and will always remember Neal for her generosity.
“I thought it was going to be like $5, maybe $10 if I was lucky but a very nice lady who likes to reward those who gets good grades,” he said. “I am not going to forget that.”
— ↤ TᗩᗰᗰY ᗰOᖇᖇIᔕ ↦ (@JMCounselor) March 25, 2019
On social media, many people commended Neal for her charitable nature, including her former high school classmate.
“She is one special lady,” Frances Wilson said. “The bus driver, Clarissa Neal, and I graduated from high school together.”
Others were inspired by Neal’s actions to consider what they could do to help encourage students.
“If a bus driver can make a sacrifice (because, no they don’t make a lot) to provide an incentive for these students, what can others do also?” Tara McNeil Smith said.
Kim Harrison echoed this view.
“She cared enough to make the sacrifice,” she said. “With all that is going on in the news and the world today, can we … stop trying to figure out how much they pay drivers in Chatham County and celebrate this member of the village who went the extra mile to encourage our youth to do and be better?”
Chatham County bus driver gives $100 to students with straight A’s https://t.co/89tNMVRLiW
— Beth Morton (@JustBethBSM) March 25, 2019