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First Lady Goes Back to School
News Bytes 09/9/2021 28 Comments

First Lady Jill Biden has a big job. She is a wife and mother. She appears publicly both with and without her husband, President Joe Biden. She promotes important causes such as fighting cancer. She hosts world leaders. And if that isn’t enough, this fall, Dr. Biden returned to the classroom as a teacher—the first First Lady to leave the White House to work a full-time job.

After months of teaching writing and English to college students via computer, Dr. Biden has resumed teaching in person from a classroom at Northern Virginia Community College. She has taught there since 2009.

“There are some things you just can’t replace, and I can’t wait to get back in the classroom,” she told Good Housekeeping magazine this summer.

The First Lady has been eager to see her students in person after more than a year of virtual teaching brought on by attempts to manage the coronavirus pandemic.

A working First Lady is a “big deal,” says Tammy Vigil, a Boston University communications professor. She wrote a book about First Ladies Michelle Obama and Melania Trump.

The nation’s early presidential spouses did not work outside the White House. They did perform vital functions inside its storied walls, though. The women supported and counseled their husbands, raised children, and hosted global leaders.

Many First Ladies made numerous public appearances to promote their own or the president’s humanitarian and cultural agendas. Abigail Adams, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Nancy Reagan were among the nation’s most influential First Ladies. But even these powerful women kept 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue as their home and work base.

More recent First Ladies, such as Laura Bush, who was an elementary school teacher and librarian, had stopped working outside the home after having children and were not employed when their husbands were elected. Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama were working mothers who set aside their careers during their White House years.

Jill Biden is forging a new path. She taught at the Virginia community college during the eight years that her husband was vice president. She has decided not to let being First Lady force her to give up a career she so closely identifies with.

“Teaching isn’t just what I do. It’s who I am,” she says.

Leaders of the nation’s largest teachers’ unions are pleased that one of their own is now in a position to help influence the administration’s education policies. They hope Dr. Biden will raise the profile of the teaching profession—one that many have long felt was unappreciated.

“She sees it up close and personally,” says Becky Pringle, president of the National Education Association (NEA). “And now . . . she has an opportunity to create a platform and to have influence.”

Now 70 years old, Jill Biden started teaching high school English in Delaware in 1976—just a year after she met and began dating then-U.S. Senator Joe Biden. She later taught at a psychiatric hospital and at Delaware Technical Community College. She earned two master’s degrees and a doctorate in educational leadership during those years.

After Joe Biden became vice president in 2009, Jill Biden joined the faculty at Northern Virginia Community College. She continued to teach there after he left office and throughout his 2020 presidential campaign.

Dr. Biden tries to keep her political identity out of the classroom. She says that many of her former students had no idea she was married to the vice president. Secret Service agents accompanied her for security. But she had them dress casually and tote backpacks in an attempt to blend into the campus environment.

Her virtual teaching continued as First Lady from her office in the White House East Wing or hotel rooms when she traveled to promote administration policies. She grades papers on flights.

Jill Biden will teach on Tuesdays and Thursdays. She will travel only on days when she is not in the classroom.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, says, “It shatters the norms of what First Ladies do.”

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men. — Colossians 3:23

(First Lady Jill Biden speaks with students as she tours Fort LeBoeuf Middle School in Waterford, Pennsylvania, on March 3, 2021. Mandel Ngan/Pool via AP)

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Most recent comments

1st Comment!!!!!! :)))))))

Wow! Good for her! And hopefully, this will help teachers more... If you look up the salary of the CEO of the RedCross, and the average teacher salary, there is a huge difference.

2nd comment!

What??!!!!

3rd comment

That is really interesting. I know "It shatters the norm of what First Ladies do" but sometimes being different is a good thing. And I can understand wanting to work and teach, if that is what she really loves to do. And it is a bit funny to picture Secret Service agents walking around in casual clothing and backpacks! XD ;) Also, I think it is a good idea for her to keep her identity out of teaching as much as possible. I would love to have a First Lady as my teacher, but Mrs. Biden is very liberal and a democrat. :( Sadly.

Good for her

Good for her

Good for her

Good for her

6th Comment

I agree with Riley, I think it is a good idea for her to keep doing what she loves.

6th Comment

I agree with Riley, I think it is a good idea for her to keep doing what she loves.

Ehhh, big deal? OK, whatever.

Ehhh, big deal? OK, whatever. Mildly interesting. Anyway, with the whole political identity thing, I bet she might keep here IDENTITY out of it, but IDEALS? (I don't have italics on here, lol) No way. It makes sense. Infusing the kids with a daily dose of Communism, er Socialism. Communism. Such a bad word to use, tsk tsk. Sorry. (Not) It's Communism, no matter how you window dress it.

<<< I CAN PREDICT WHAT YOU

<<< I CAN PREDICT WHAT YOU ARE DOING!!! >>>

1) You are reading this

2) You are a human

3) You can't say P without shutting your lips

5) You just tried it

6) You are smiling

7) You didn't notice I skipped the 4th one

8) You are checking to see if there is a four

9) You didn't realize I skipped a two

10) You got tricked because there is two

11) You are going to copy/paste this to see who else falls for it.

@Jonathan M

You were wrong about 3, 6, 9, 10, and 11.
Just thought I should tell you.

@Jonathan M

You were wrong about 3, 6, 9, 10, and 11.
Just thought I should tell you.

...

I agree with Hesperus about political ideals. I guess it's good for her to be an example as a working American instead of a handouts-receiving-couch-potato. Jonathan M, I've seen those before and they're funny, but unfortunately don't always work. XD The last one is always wrong for me, because I am too lazy to copy and paste it! Did you make that one, or did you see it somewhere?

this is mylee

I'm glad she gets to do what she loves ! But what is she putting in this college students minds ?no offense but she is kinda liberal.

Above

I agree with Riley

I copy pasted it.

I copy pasted it.

@Mylee S

Not kinda, she's a full-on raging liberal. I mean, just look at her husband.

@Jonathan M

Haha, I like it. XD Got me on some of them.

@Asher E

Stands to reason, don't it. That sounds like that would be a comedy setup, tho. Husband is fake President and very liberal, and the wife is hard core conservative and honest as can be. Lol.

I really think it's a

I really think it's a whatever thing, unrelated to issues that are way more pressing. Also, anyone heard of Adventures in Odyssey?

@David P.

YESYESYESYES Oh man we love those!

YES!

I love Adventures in Odyssey! Have you heard of the Brinkman Adventures?

@Above

@David P: Yeah we have some Adventures in Odyssey and really like them!
@Jackson K: No, I have not heard of those.

@David

YES! My sister and I listen to Adventures in Odyssey all the time. We love them!
Do you do the online club?

My family has the AiO club.

My family has the AiO club. My siblings and I love to listen to them. They're especially great for road trips.

I love adventures in odyssy!!!!!!!

I love AiO i have been lisaning to them since I was very little. they just keep getting better and better.

also

question:
can you lisen to the main AiO episodes if your part of the club???

Ok, first of all, I don't

Ok, first of all, I don't really have an opinion on this.
Second, Yes! Adventures in Odyssey is great! I am a member of the club as well, and it is really nice!
@Jasmine D, If you are part of the club you get to listen to every episode they have produced, and all the new ones that are coming out.

i got predicted

im even gonna copy and paste

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