On Jan. 8, Arizona schools chief Tom Horne asked teachers to e-mail him within 30 days and tell him how he could make their lives easier.

“Send me a good quality pencil sharpener!” Tucson teacher Dianne Turausky wrote at the end of her message. The handle broke off her old crank sharpener, and the school didn’t have money to replace it. Within a week, Turausky’s library received a new electric sharpener from Horne.

It was about the only request Horne could immediately fulfill in the nearly 600 messages he received, although he plans to answer each one.

“It’s magnificent,” Turausky said. “It’s state-of-the-art. I mean, we don’t have electric pencil sharpeners. We can’t afford them.”

Now, her Magee Middle School students hold their freshly sharpened pencils in their hands as if they were bouquets of flowers, oohing and aahing over their fine points.

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