Bouquets of Sharpened Pencils

“I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.” It’s a line from the movie “You’ve Got Mail,” a late ’90s movie I can’t help but watch whenever I see that it’s on. Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks star in this cute little love story about a relationship that started in an online chatroom back in the days when internet access was still via dial-up. I thought of bouquets of sharpened pencils because it’s almost back-to-school time, and, like many parents, I just spent the weekend buying new school supplies that are sure to keep my daughter organized and focused all year long. I love this time of year. It’s kind of like a mid-year reboot — full of promise, the anticipation of crisp fall air (and football), and a head full of dreams about how organized I’m going to be — new pencils, new paper, new colored pens and folders! Bliss! More than 1,000 local boys and girls will walk into their first day of kindergarten before month’s end. And several of our year-round schools are already underway. If recent statistics hold true, we’ll know two things about students in Henderson County this year: • More than half will be considered “not ready” for school on day one of kindergarten. • More than half in all grades will qualify for the free and reduced meals program. If you’re like most people, you may be wondering, “What does ‘being ready’ mean?” The truth is, there is not a nice, clean checklist. Young children develop at their own speed and learn as...