HAMPTON, Va. (September 17, 2019) – Virginia’s First Lady Pamela Northam visited the Hampton University Child Development Center (HUCDC) on Monday, September 9, as part of her “Back to School” tour to highlight the importance of school readiness. HUCDC was the only child development center First Lady Northam visited in Hampton. Last year was First Lady Northam’s inaugural Back to School tour, where she traveled more than 2,000 miles and made 38 different stops throughout the state.
“We welcome First Lady Pamela Northam to Hampton University. Our Child Development Center is the absolute best place for Early Childhood Education. We were happy to share with First Lady Northam the tremendous work that Ms. Joy Hernandez and her staff are doing to shape the minds of our children and prepare them for school,” said Hampton University President, Dr. William R. Harvey.
First Lady Northam is a longtime educator and advocate of young children. During this Second Annual Back to School Tour, First Lady Northam will engage with educators, parents, students, legislators and local leaders from the nonprofit and business communities. “Our community partners are so important in making sure we have children getting what they need. It truly does take a whole village, and Hampton University is the gold standard. We want to grow this out to other places and show them how wonderful you all work together to make this happen and care for our children. We thank you for that,” said First Lady Northam.
First Lady Northam received a tour of the Hampton University Child Development Center, along with many Hampton University officials and dignitaries from Hampton, including Mayor Donnie Tuck. After the tour, First Lady Northam read the book, “Pete the Kitty’s First Day of Preschool,” to a group of very well behaved HUCDC students.
Smart Beginnings Virginia Peninsula, which is a public-private partnership, and works to enhance the quality of early childhood health and learning for young children in Hampton, Newport News and other counties in the Peninsula, chose Hampton’s Child Development Center for First Lady Northam to visit because it is a high-quality Level 4 Virginia Quality Center.
“Joy and her teachers have really put the work in. They were a Level 3 for two years, trying to get that foundation to earn the higher-level rating. They were coached, went to professional development and we are really proud of them for reaching that Level 4 on the first try,” said Hilari Devine, Regional Coordinator for Virginia Quality.
The HUCDC is continuing to reach new heights as it has received recognition from The Child Care Aware of America (CCAoA), National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), National Head Start Association (NHSA), National Indian Child Care Association (NICCA), National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC), Teachstone, and the Afterschool Alliance. These organizations have all acknowledged the HUCDC for their excellent care and service.
“We are setting the foundation for young pre-school aged kids. We want to make sure that these young children are successful, and in order to be successful, we must provide educational experiences for the children and ensure they are ready for Kindergarten and that when they get there, they are not behind,” said Joy Hernandez, Director of the HUCDC.
School readiness really starts at birth, years before the first day of Kindergarten. “We know that a child’s brain is developing at a rapid pace and the majority of it is developed in the first five years of life, so every second counts, by way of interaction, education, nurturing, social and emotional development,” said Diane Umstead, Executive Director for Smart Beginnings Virginia Peninsula. “Joy Hernandez has put herself out there and provided the leadership so that the teachers get the best and these children get the best. It’s a rare commitment and it absolutely has to be done by everyone that’s involved in early childhood.”
First Lady Northam’s tour will continue until the end of September.