Smart Start sends out kits to get kids read for kindergarten

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 8, 2017

By Susan Shinn Turner

Smart Start Rowan

About this time of year, students in North Carolina pre-kindergarten classrooms are thinking about going to kindergarten in the fall. And most are pretty excited about it.

To help them be prepared, Smart Start Rowan this week distributed 391 kindergarten readiness kits to children across Rowan County.

The county has 26 N.C. pre-K classrooms, both at child care centers and schools. The kits reinforce writing, coloring skills and using scissors, says Mary Burridge, Smart Start Rowan’s family support manager. The colorful, reusable tote bags include a parent guide  available in English or Spanish, a 100-page composition book, four pencils, a sharpener, a 24-pack of crayons and a glue stick. The kits also include a toothbrush and $25 coupon, both from Salisbury Pediatric Dentistry.

“Mary reached out to us to donate materials,” says Natalie Burns, community relations coordinator for the practice. “We definitely think it’s important that each child has a toothbrush, and we want to educate parents on the importance of taking their child to the dentist.”

Good oral health, she says, is part of a healthy lifestyle. “We are here as a dental home for children in the community. We want to be that resource for our community.”

Items are donated throughout the year. Burridge bought the remainder of supplies from Smart Start Rowan funds with a budget of $3,000. Staff members at Smart Start Rowan assembled the kits last week. Additionally, students in the Upward Bound Math and Science program at Central Carolina Community College in Sanford partnered with students at Livingstone College to pack about 150 kits.

Burridge delivered the kits to schools and centers Monday and Tuesday. Typically, most locations have one pre-K classroom.

“The kids love it; they really do,” Burridge says. “They really look forward to receiving them. One teacher called last week and wanted to know if the students were getting the kits this year. If not, she was prepared to purchase the supplies.”

Burridge says some families use the kits right away, while others wait until the fall. “We don’t care when they’re used, as long as they’re being used.”

Brittany Douglas greets Burridge as she delivers kits to Partners in Learning. Her son, Aiden Douglas-Jeffries, will go to kindergarten this fall, and she saw the kits last year when she worked for the facility.

“Those bags are amazing,” she says.

Down the hall, Burridge has dropped off bags to two classrooms. The children are thrilled with the bags, enthusiastically pulling out and examining every item, as assistants Meliya Harris and Jennifer Misenheimer quickly hand them out.

N.C. pre-K is a state-sponsored program for high-needs children to help them be more prepared to enter kindergarten. Families apply for the free program, which follows the Rowan-Salisbury Schools calendar.

Smart Start Rowan continues to accept N.C. pre-K applications for the 2017-18 school year. Access applications at Smart Start Rowan or online at

Smart Start Rowan is a United Way member agency.