Welcome, Jill Biden . . .

First Lady Jill Biden is clearly smart, resourceful, warm, courageous, and highly supportive of her husband. But she has something else going for her . . .

Jill Biden is a teacher

She graduated with a degree in English from the University of Delaware in 1975. Between 1993 and 2008, she taught English and writing at Delaware Technical & Community College. And since 2009, she has been a professor of English at Northern Virginia Community College. So yes, she is a lifelong educator.

What Will Jill Biden’s Dedication to Teaching Mean for American Schools?

We are not yet able to answer that question. But given her outgoing personality and clear ability to communicate with language, we can predict that she will exert a positive influence in our nation’s classrooms.

As we say, we don’t know exactly how she will impact on American education. But just for fun, let’s review the activities of some former First Ladies who were teachers before they lived in the White House:

Abigail Fillmore (1798-1853) was a schoolteacher before she met her husband and settled down to life in the White House. She seems to have been instrumental in establishing the presidential library of her husband – the first presidential library ever.

Grace Coolidge (1879-1957) taught children with hearing impairments prior to marrying Cool Cal. Later in her life, she continued to support organizations that helped people with hearing problems.

Pat Nixon (1912-1993) was a teacher, as well as the first First Lady to ever earn a postgraduate degree. She earned her degrees at USC and became a teacher. Apparently, she continued to teach for a time after she married Richard.

Rosalynn Carter (born 1927 and still going strong), though not a teacher, dedicated her efforts to helping people with mental illness.

And Which Presidents Were Educators?

A number of former U.S. presidents held leadership positions at American institutions of higher education. They include:

  • George Washington (1st president), Chancellor of the College of William and Mary
  • Thomas Jefferson (3rd) , founder of the University of Virginia
  • James Madison (4th), Rector of the University of Virginia
  • John Tyler (10th), Rector of the College of William and Mary
  • Millard Fillmore (13th), Chancellor of the University of Buffalo
  • James Garfield (20th), President of Hiram College
  • Woodrow Wilson (28th), President of Princeton University
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower (34th), President of Columbia University

And what did those educators contribute to the world of American education? Probably more than we could discover or report in just one blog post.

But let’s not dwell in the past. We’re counting on Jill Biden, our new First Lady, to support education in the years to come. The very fact that she is a committed teacher, and one who is still teaching, can only advance the cause of American education.


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