'Angel' Custodian Comforts Upset Student with Autism in Sweet Photo: She's 'Literally the Best'

Esther McCool (left) with student Kenlee

An elementary school custodian in Texas is being called an “angel” after she comforted an upset elementary school student who has autism in an extra special way last week.

Esther McCool, who works at Melba Passmore Elementary in Alvin, went above and beyond on Sept. 10 when she saw Kenlee, a 4th grader, having an “exceptionally difficult morning,” Rachel Moore, a spokesperson for the Alvin Independent School District, tells PEOPLE in a statement.

Kenlee “struggles with the noise and busyness of the cafeteria,” the statement continues. “That morning, she laid down on the stage and covered her head with her blanket and when Mrs. Esther, the custodian, passed through the cafeteria, she saw Kenlee and laid down to comfort her.”

A photo of the moment showed the little girl wrapped in a blanket, curled up on the wood floor. Beside her, McCool is shown laying in a similar position with her arm wrapped around the student. Kenlee’s mother, Hollie Bellew-Shaw, shared the photo on Facebook and praised McCool.

“Our school custodian is literally the best, sweetest individual in the world,” Bellew-Shaw began the post. “The Hippy wanted no part of being in the cafeteria this morning with all the noise so she laid down w/her blanket on the stage. When Ms Esther saw her she came and laid next to her and patted her back. All schools should be so lucky to have their own Angel on campus.”

The photo has been shared hundreds of times online and Moore says McCool and Kenlee received a lot of attention as the picture made its way around the internet.

“It’s been great for them and the school’s excited,” Moore said. “We’re excited that Esther gets that recognition because she’s a great part of that district.”

She added in the statement: “Mrs. Esther exhibits everything that Alvin ISD strives to be.”

Bellew-Shaw told KTRK that Kenlee and McCool have shared a special bond for about three years. She said Kenlee often runs up to McCool to give her a hug.

Moore said school officials are happy to shine a light on McCool’s good deed.

“This goes to show you that a kind word, a hug, and a little compassion are all it takes to make a huge difference in a child’s life,” school officials wrote in a post on Facebook.

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