Jill Biden: the future first lady who’s a teacher first

Dr Jill Biden has been a teacher for 36 years – and she has no plans to stop as she prepares to enter the White House
7th November 2020, 4:39pm

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Jill Biden: the future first lady who’s a teacher first

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archive/jill-biden-future-first-lady-whos-teacher-first
Dr Jill Biden, Wife Of Us President-elect Joe Biden: 'i Will Continue To Teach As First Lady'

Could FE teacher Dr Jill Biden be the first American first lady to continue her career outside the White House? The community college teacher, who has decades of experience in the classroom, certainly thinks so: "If we get to the White House, I'm going to continue to teach," she told a CBS reporter this summer.

While, right now, she is in the spotlight as the wife of Joe Biden, the US president-elect, to her students at Northern Virginia Community College, she is Dr Biden - their teacher. 

"I teach a lot of immigrants and refugees. I love their stories, I love who they are as people, and I love the fact that I can help them on their path to success," she said in the same interview. "If we get to the White House, I'm going to continue to teach - it's important. I want people to value teachers, and know their contribution and lift up the profession"

Biden support for further education

Unsurprisingly, education has been a key theme for Dr Biden during the election campaign. In an interview with Vogue in March, she talked passionately about ensuring that all Americans have free access to community college. 

She said: "The beauty of [being first lady] is that you can define it however you want. And that's what I did as second lady [when Joe Biden was vice-president from 2009 to 2017) - I defined that role the way I wanted it to be. I would still work on all the same issues. Education would be right up there - and military families. I'd travel all over this country trying to get free community college.

"We need good reading programmes, and we need equity in schools. We're competing in this global market, and the US' standing has got to get better."

In the same interview, she told Vogue that most of her students had no idea who she was - and that she asked the secret service to dress like college students and sit out in the hallway on laptops. 


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According to The Washington Post, the presidential campaign is the first time since 1981 that she has taken a break from teaching. Dr Biden taught English and reading in high schools for 13 years, before moving to Delaware Technical Community College in 1993 - and there she stayed until 2008. 

Dr Jill BidenWhile at the college, aged 55, she also gained a doctorate of Education in educational leadership from the University of Delaware. In 2009, she became an English composition professor at Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) - and continued with that role while her husband was vice-president. 

In a joint interview between the Bidens and the Obamas for People magazine in 2016, Barack Obama said: "Jill is always grading papers, which is funny because I'd forget, 'Oh yeah, you have a day job!' And then she pulls out her papers and she's so diligent and I'm like, 'Look at you! You have a job! Tell me! Tell me what it's like!'"

If she does decide to continue to work in the classroom, according to CNBC, Anita McBride, leader of the First Ladies Initiative at American University, says she would be the first first lady to continue with a career outside of the White House. 

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