Even before the sun rises for the day, students at the Academy of the Arts at Bransom in Burleson are greeted by a sparkling ray of light.

That glimmer of sunshine is Minnie Mouse.

“Good morning,” she yells as the students run by.

The character is special education teacher Cindy Matthews.

“Have a good day,” she says while singing.

Cindy first shined her light during a rainstorm a couple of years ago.

“It was raining for like two weeks straight,” she said.

The students were gloomier than the weather and she wanted to change that.

“It just popped in my head -- ‘I think I wanna put on an inner tube.’”

That was all it took to bring a flood of smiles. So she kept going.

Elementary school teacher Cindy Matthews has been dressing up every day to cheer up students in the morning.

The inner tube became a cowgirl, then Dr. Seuss. Every day for the past two years Cindy has welcomed students with silly costumes and overwhelming energy.

Principal Joy Burchfield says she’s noticed a change in the kids.

“They’ve already got a smile on their face, they’ve got a little pep in their step. I think they’re more ready for the day.”

But Cindy sees the results before they even get in the door. She’s paid handsomely in hugs.

Cindy says she’ll keep going above and beyond to make sure these kids start their day with a smile.

“Sometimes that’s all it takes,” she said.

And sometimes the hugs she receives are all she needs to know she’s making a difference.