Virginia First Lady Pamela Northam with preschool students, teachers at Marumsco Hills Elementary

Virginia First Lady Pamela Northam recently visited Marumsco Hills Elementary School to show her support of early childhood programs. Northam visited the Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI) classroom of Andrea Gillespie and read the book, "Are You Ready for Spring?" to the students.

"We are so thrilled to be here in Prince William County," Northam said. "We're so appreciative of the innovative work you all are doing combining local, state and federal funding to do this incredible work for early childhood. We really want to see the rest of the Commonwealth doing a great job as they are doing here in this school we saw today."

"We so appreciate visionary leaders like Superintendent Walts, who put a substantial amount in the budget this year to really expand pre-K in a meaningful way. We don't want any children left on a waiting list. This is such an important investment for the Commonwealth," she said.

One of Dr. Walts' budget priorities for FY21 is pre-kindergarten education. Dr. Walts has proposed $5.1 million in funding that will almost double the number of pre-k classrooms in PWCS.

Northam also referenced the Prince William County School Board's support of Senate Bill 578 and House Bill 1012, which would require the Virginia Board of Education to establish a statewide unified public/private system for early childhood care and education in Virginia.

"The Governor also put in an unprecedented $95 million and together we can serve thousands more children. So we are so excited about that today. You can see what an investment like that means when you see the wonderful children here and the incredible work they are doing."

Meisram Hernandez, principal of Marumsco Hills Elementary, said the students and staff enjoyed showing off the school to the First Lady.

"It truly was a pleasure to have the First Lady of Virginia visit our school," she said. "Her advocacy for preschool is very much appreciated. As an elementary school principal, I value the fundamental building blocks that our preschool students receive. Not only do our young students grow in the core areas of reading, writing and math; they also make great strides in their emotional and social development as well."