First Lady Pamela Northam visits classrooms on back-to-school tour

Published: Aug. 31, 2020 at 5:56 PM EDT
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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - Virginia’s First Lady is visiting Southwest Virginia, touring childcare facilities and classrooms this week.

Pamela Northam’s first stop was Monday to Virginia Tech’s Child Development Center for Learning and Research.

“I say the teachers hold the futures in their hands, so it is wonderful to be a part of that,” Northam said.

Her goal is to talk to educators so the Commonwealth can find ways to better support early learning for children.

“Education is where it all begins and we want to make sure we are giving every child a great start in life and facilities like this are where it all begins.”

This year has presented a unique set of challenges because of the pandemic the center’s director, Karen Gallagher, said.

“Our teachers are very flexible, and flexibility was a requirement pre-COVID, but definitely during COVID.”

Gallagher said she hopes the First Lady’s visit will draw attention to some of the needs of these programs so that all children can get a fair shot at a good education.

“I think all early childhood programs really need the financial support so we are not passing the cost on to the families,” she said.

The Commonwealth has already invested $80 million in CARES Act funding to help these facilities navigate through COVID, Northam said.

“This is an investment that is so worth it in the Commonwealth of Virginia. We know that every dollar we invest we get a huge return in these early years,” Northam said.

The First Lady will continue her back-to-school tour Tuesday in Wise County.

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