Virginia First Lady Pamela Northam visits Newport News School in celebration of Virginia Agriculture Literacy Week
Posted: March 18, 2021
Preschoolers in Tiffany Slate's class leaned in to listen to Virginia First Lady Pamela Northam speak about the foods they eat and where they come from.
Her visit marked Virginia Agriculture Literacy Week, and Mrs. Northam spoke to the students about bees, plants, and their favorite things to eat before reading How Did That Get in My Lunchbox? by Chris Butterworth, a book that methodically describes the steps involved in growing and processing foods found in a typical school lunch.
When the story was over, Mrs. Northam presented the class with a copy of the book and commemorative coins embossed with the Virginia state seal and flower and Governor Ralph Northam's name.
Down the hall, Virginia's Chief Diversity Officer Dr. Janice Underwood visited students in Kim Powell's and Mary Savoie's preschool classes. These students sat in their socially distanced spots on the classroom floor and giggled as Dr. Underwood shared Butterworth's book with them as well.
Since many of the center's students continue to learn remotely, Mrs. Northam was able to participate in a Zoom call with students in a dual immersion English/Spanish class. These students smiled into their computer cameras and asked the First Lady her favorite color and admitted that they didnât care for broccoli.
Mrs. Northam and Dr. Underwood met with the center's child nutrition staff, thanking them on behalf of the governor for their work feeding students. Dr. Underwood told the group, "We hear you, we see you, and I'm bumping elbows with all of you to thank you for the incredible work you have done to support students and families during this tough time."
In response to a cafeteria employee's question about returning to full in-person instruction, Dr. Underwood told the group that while each school division determines their instructional approach, it is encouraging that all Virginia school systems have met the Governor's goal to have a plan in place by March 15 for resuming in-person learning. The First Lady shared that more than 80% of teachers and school personnel in the state have had the opportunity to receive at least one dose of a COVID vaccine.
When she arrived at Watkins Early Childhood Center, Mrs. Northam was welcomed by Sue Waxman, the centerâs principal; Lyndon Hott, assistant principal; Dr. George Parker, superintendent of Newport News Public Schools; Monty Mason, state senator; and school system administrators and staff. Mrs. Northam thanked Sen. Mason for his support of legislation that would bring money to schools and increase teacher pay, saying, "We need to put our money where our heart is."
The visit was brief, and within an hour, Mrs. Northam and Dr. Underwood were on the road to visit more schools in Hampton Roads to celebrate schools, educators, child nutrition personnel, and everyone involved in feeding Virginia students.