For most of us, Zoom and other online video platforms have become part of our daily routines, thanks to the COVID-19 crisis that has made in-person meetings impossible.
And the new first lady, Jill Biden, is no exception. Biden, who has a doctorate in education, is still teaching her English classes at Northern Virginia Community College, but she’s doing it via Zoom — from the White House, of course.
There was no question that Biden’s role as an educator would continue after her husband became the 46th U.S. president. As second lady under former President Barack Obama, she also taught full time while working on issues such as breast cancer awareness, the plight of military families and the importance of community colleges. She told Stephen Colbert in December that she planned to continue work on those issues.
Her ethos is emphasized on the White House website, where a quote from Biden is included on her information page: “Teaching isn’t just what I do, it’s who I am.”
Biden — known to her students as “Dr. B” — is the first presidential spouse in history to hold a paid job during her tenure in the White House. President Biden believes it’s her passion for teaching that gives her the motivation she needs to keep up with all her commitments, including her new first lady duties.
“The students she teaches, these are foreign students or people who weren’t the people who graduated from high school, but they’re remaking their lives,” Joe Biden told People in his first joint interview with his wife. “It’s an inspiration. It’s energy for Jill, but it’s a lot of work.”
Biden shed light on how much work she has going on.
“It’s been busy,” she admitted. “But it’s been so many different things, so many different areas, and Joe’s been working hard on foreign policy and of course his new [COVID relief] plan. And so we have a lot to do — but we have a lot ahead of us and we feel good about it. We feel like people have hope that we’re moving the country forward.”
A White House spokesperson said that Biden plans to keep her public role as first lady separate from her teaching.
The Northern Virginia Community College website confirms that “most in-person classes and certain campus services, including libraries and computer labs, will be remote until February 8,” and “All other classes and support services will remain remote for the entire semester.”
So, for now, Dr. B’s students have plenty of opportunities to catch a glimpse of the White House over Zoom.