GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (GRPS) -- Gov. Gretchen Whitmer visited preschool classrooms at Burton Elementary Monday to see the difference pre-K is having on scholars in Grand Rapids as they begin their academic journey.

After the tour, Gov. Whitmer said she will include funding for universal pre-K for all Michigan children in her budget proposal later this week.

"The work that is happening all across Michigan, in classrooms like these, is really incredible," Gov. Whitmer said. "We know that access to early childhood education is one of the best ways to lift people up and improve our long-term outcomes."

Gov. Whitmer was joined at Burton by GRPS Superintendent Dr. Leadriane Roby, U.S. Representative Hillary Scholten, State Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks, State Representatives John Fitzgerald, Carol Glanville Kristian Grant, and Phil Skaggs, Grand Rapids Board of Education President Kimberley Williams, Trustees Jordoun Eatman, José Rodriguez, Aarie Wade, Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss, City Manager Dr. Mark Washington, and a host of other GRPS leaders and staff.

"Preschool does change the lives and the trajectory of our young people," Dr. Roby said. "It sets our scholars up for success."

"This is an equitable moment to make sure that all of our children have access to a viable, rigorous, relevant education," Dr. Roby said. "We are proud to support the work that extends beyond our city in our Capitol and through the governor's office."

Representative Scholten said she learned the importance of education from her mother, who taught at Buchanan Elementary in Grand Rapids.

"There is nothing more important than investing in a high-quality education for our youngest constituents," Rep. Scholten said. "Teachers truly are the gateway to all professions, teaching our future doctors, lawyers, social justice advocates, astronauts - and who knows - maybe the next president of the United States is standing here among us right now."

Alissa Amaya, a preschool teacher at Burton Elementary, also spoke about the importance of early childhood education.

"Preschool experiences and experiences before children get to preschool help lay the foundation for what students can use to be successful," Amaya said. "That is why it's so impactful for students to come to preschool."

Emily Juarez, a 4th-grader at Burton Elementary, had the honor of introducing Gov. Whitmer during her speech.

"I've been here since preschool," Emily said. "Preschool taught me how to learn English because when I came to Burton I didn't know how to speak English."

After introducing the Governor, those in attendance applauded. The Governor made sure Emily knew who they were cheering for.

"Emily, those cheers are not for me, they're for you," Gov. Whitmer told Emily. "She claims to be nervous, but I don't buy it. She was spectacular."