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Jill Biden starts teaching in person as the nation's first FLOTUS to have a full-time job in the role's 231-year history

Business Insider logo Business Insider 9/7/2021 ydzhanova@businessinsider.com (Yelena Dzhanova)
Jill Biden posing for the camera: Dr. Jill Biden, wife of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, arrives for the start of the final round of the 2009 National Spelling Bee in Washington, May 28, 2009. Jim Young/Reuters © Provided by Business Insider Dr. Jill Biden, wife of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, arrives for the start of the final round of the 2009 National Spelling Bee in Washington, May 28, 2009. Jim Young/Reuters
  • Jill Biden has begun in-person teaching, making history as the only first lady to keep a full-time job while serving in the role.
  • Biden is the only first lady in the role's 231-year history to do so.
  • Biden has made clear in the past how important education and her profession are to her.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

After months of remote learning, Jill Biden has resumed in-person teaching on Tuesday. She's the only first lady in the role's 231-year history to keep a full-time job while serving in office.

Biden is a university professor with a bachelor's degree, two master's degrees, and a doctorate of education. In the capacity of second lady under the Obama administration, Biden still taught at Northern Virginia Community College during all eight years.

Her new role will be no different. She's said in the past that she intends to keep her job while serving as the first lady.

"She will really be bringing the role of first lady into the 21st century," first-lady historian Katherine Jellison told USA Today.

"Americans have historically wanted their first ladies to be in the White House and at the president's side whenever possible," Jellison said. "Maybe the time has come when Americans will be more accepting of the idea that a president's wife can simultaneously be a first lady and a working professional."

Since 2009, Biden's served as a professor in the English department at Northern Virginia Community College, where she taught writing remotely for months because of the pandemic. Tuesday marks the start of in-person classes of her as in the capacity of first lady.

Biden has signaled her passion for and commitment to teaching in various interviews and tweets over the years.


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"Teaching is not what I do. It's who I am," Biden said in an August tweet ahead of a convention speech.

Ahead of her husband Joe's victory, Biden expressed her commitment to continue teaching while serving as the first lady.

"If we get to the White House, I'm going to continue to teach," she said in a CBS interview in August. "I want people to value teachers and know their contributions and to lift up the profession."

Biden had not been teaching while campaigning for her husband and Kamala Harris. She said she wanted to support her husband's presidential bid.

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"He's always supported my career," she said on CNN early this year. "And this is a critical time for me to support him because, you know, I want change."

The role of the first and second ladies is more fluid than that of the president or vice president. In recent presidencies, the first and second ladies have worked on initiatives to strengthen or add to the president's agenda. Michelle Obama, for example, was the face of Let's Move, a campaign she designed to promote healthy eating and lifestyles for children. Melania Trump is running the Be Best campaign, an initiative focusing on the emotional and social health of young children.

"The beauty of (being FLOTUS) is that you can define it however you want," Biden told Vogue last year. "And that's what I did as second lady - 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."

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