PHOENIX (CBS 5) - Toney Eason is more than just a school bus driver.
The guy, affectionately known as Mr. T, often serves as a counselor, confidant and close friend to every child he picks up.
"Any kid that (sic) rides this bus knows they can come to me for anything," said Eason. "That's part of being a bus driver."
For the past two years, Eason has been high-fiving and fist bumping students from Imagine Schools Cortez Park in Phoenix.
His kindness and caring are always on full display, putting kids in a good mood before the bell rings.
"They see me in the morning with a smile on my face, and the first thing they want to do is smile, so that's the most important thing," said Eason.
Heather Kelly's son Ian just started riding Eason's bus last semester, and she immediately saw a difference in the eighth-grader's attitude and school work.
In fact, Kelly has been so impressed by Eason's impact on students, that she reached out to CBS 5 to Pay It Forward to the beloved bus driver.
"He's always smiling. He is never upset," said Kelly. "He loves his job so much and cares so much about the school and the kids, that is why I nominated him because he is absolutely an amazing person and people need to see that."
A CBS 5 news crew showed up this week to surprise Eason and watch Kelly give him $500.
"I just want to tell you how I appreciate you and how much the school appreciates you," Kelly told Eason. "You're always here for all the kids at school and we just want to say thank you so much. You mean the world to me and my family, and with that, we are giving you $500."