Teachers are often some of the country’s most unsung heroes, especially now with the multitudinous demands placed on them during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the White House will soon have a sung hero — a veteran professor, in fact — as FLOTUS. The future First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden, is slated to be a major advocate for American educators, in part because she plans on working full-time as a teacher while serving in the White House. In doing so, Biden will be the first FLOTUS in the position’s 231-year history to keep her job while also juggling the demands of her new role as First Lady.
Biden is already familiar with managing her 9-5 with political office, as she’s been working as an English professor at North Virginia Community College since 2009, which coincided with her time as the Second Lady during the Obama administration. Katherine Jellison, a professor at Ohio University and a historian of first ladies, says that Biden “will really be bringing the role of first lady into the 21st century,” adding that “Americans have historically wanted their first ladies to be in the White House and at the president’s side whenever possible.” But, Jellison notes, “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,” as per USA Today.
While Biden took a sabbatical this year to help her husband campaign, she confirmed her intention to continue teaching in an August interview with CBS Sunday Morning, saying, “If we get to the White House, I’m going to continue to teach. I want people to value teachers and know their contributions and lift up the profession.” Biden holds a Ph.D. in Education from the University of Delaware, in addition to two Master’s degrees, in English and Education, respectively.
During his victory speech, President-Elect Joe Biden said of his wife, “Teaching isn’t just what she does: it’s who she is,” adding, “For American educators, this is a great day for y’all; you’re going to have one of your own in the White House.” Traditionally, the role of First Lady has not been well-defined. But, it looks like Biden will be taking an important step towards modernizing the role of FLOTUS, showing a First Lady who will maintain her own professional ambitions outside of her husband’s.