The First Lady returns to the classroom after having conducted online classes from the White House, hotel rooms in recent months.
Jill Biden is heading back to the classrooms to resume in-person teaching at Northern Virginia Community College and it's the first time a First Lady leaves the White House to pursue a full-time job. Jill Biden, 70, has been teaching writing and English at Northern Virginia Community College since 2009 and has continued as a teacher since moving to the White House but the classes were limited to online sessions on account of the Coronavirus pandemic. “There are some things you just can’t replace, and I can’t wait to get back in the classroom,” said Jill, reported Good Housekeeping magazine. Jill had been holding classes from the White House East Wing or hotel rooms when she traveled as part of her job as First Lady. She also graded papers on the flight.
Former first ladies never held a job outside of the White House, often acting as ambassadors, a hostess, and organizing programs. Jill Biden's decision to continue as a teacher, a full-time profession, is a historical one, making her the first First Lady to hold a paid position outside the White House in the role's 231-year history. Many former first ladies including Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton, and Michelle Obama discontinued their jobs after getting to the White House. Jill Biden is passionate about her job, having been a teacher all her life. “Teaching isn't just what I do. It's who I am,” she said. “It shatters the norms of what first ladies do,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. "I want people to value teachers and know their contributions and to lift up the profession," said Jill Biden, reported CBS Sunday Morning.
“Teaching is my life’s work. I teach because I love seeing the difference that I hope to make in my students’ lives," said Jill Biden. "My goal is to always give them confidence in their own abilities because I know confidence will carry them well beyond my classroom in whatever they do. As I work hard every day to inspire my students, it is ultimately they who inspire me," she added. Jill Biden has graduate degrees from West Chester University, Villanova University, and the University of Delaware. It took her 15 years to finish her own education, which included studying at night while raising her children.
She has been teaching for more than 4 decades, having started out in 1976 in teaching English at a Roman Catholic high school in Wilmington, Delaware. She taught at Delaware Technical Community College for 15 years before moving to Northern Virginia Community College. Even when her husband Joe was Vice President, she had continued teaching at the Virginia community college for those eight years.
Having Jill Biden at the White House is a huge advantage for teachers as she is in a position to influence policy. The work of teachers and even schools have been unappreciated and teachers continue to remain severely underpaid and teachers' unions believe Jill Biden can help shine a light on the importance of teachers. “She sees it up close and personally and now, in the position as the First Lady, not only does she give voice to that from a place of understanding, she has an opportunity to create a platform and to have influence,” said Becky Pringle, president of the National Education Association (NEA). During an annual NEA meeting, President Joe Biden told them that he could relate to many of their recent issues having watched his wife navigate the world of online teaching. “It gave me an appreciation firsthand that I thought I had, but I wouldn't have had had I not seen it,” he said at the July meeting, reported NBC News. “And then going out and teaching — she was working four or five hours a day, getting ready to teach, putting her lesson plans together ... a different way.”