Local NewsJill Biden, first lady and college professor, headlines AFT...

Jill Biden, first lady and college professor, headlines AFT Convention in Boston

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Jill Biden may be known to the world as the first lady of the United States, but to her students at Northern Virginia Community College, she’s simply Dr. B.

AFT President Randi Weingarten’s introduction of Friday’s headliner at the American Federation of Teachers Convention in Boston succinctly summed up the difference between Biden and former first ladies.

She has a job, and raised some eyebrows two years ago when she decided to continue her career after Democrat Joe Biden — or Dr. Biden’s husband, as he calls himself when he’s in a roomful of teachers — was elected president.

Mrs. Biden is the first, first lady to have a job outside the White House, and it’s one she clearly values, which was evident in the remarks she gave to a convention center full of educators late Friday morning.

“Like some of you, I just got an email this week asking me to sign my contract for next semester, and it made me think about the first one I signed 38 years ago,” said Biden, an English professor at Northern Virginia Community College since 2009 and a long-time member of the National Education Association, the country’s largest labor union.

“Looking back, it’s hard to believe anyone could be that excited to scribble a name on a line, but I was,” she said. “It felt like so much more than just an employment contract. It felt like becoming the person I was meant to be.”

Becoming a teacher isn’t an easy path, Biden said, likening it to answering a call to service. For her, the choice to become an English teacher — and later, a professor — became clear when she discovered that some people weren’t able to share her love of reading.

“It broke my heart that there were people who didn’t know that joy,” Biden said. “I realized that it was a gift I could give to someone — that I could teach someone else to read.”

The first lady highlighted the second day of the AFT Convention, one that was packed with a number of political heavyweights, including U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Labor Secretary and former Boston Mayor Marty Walsh.

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Biden spoke to the challenges teachers are facing today, during a time of COVID academic slides and increased mental-health needs among students, and mass shootings at schools that have made active-shooter drills a common occurrence in classrooms.

She also spoke to today’s political division, evident in the recent Supreme Court decision to overturn a case granting the constitutional right to abortion.

And at a time when his approval rating has hit an all-time low amid inflation, the first lady took the opportunity to tout her husband’s presidential achievements.

“I’m proud of what Joe has done in these last two years,” Biden said. “From historic investments to reopen schools, to addressing the mental and academic needs of our students, to signing the bipartisan gun bill and defending women’s reproductive health care, to delivering on the promise of loan forgiveness for public servants.”

The first lady said she and the president are also pushing to end child poverty, provide affordable childcare and free community college, and get AR-15s off the street.

Educators, Biden said, “in little ways and in big ones,” have the power to change the world.

“Now, let’s get to work,” she said.

BOSTON, MA - July 15: American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten introduces First Lady Dr. Jill Biden before she spoke at the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) at the Boston Convention Center on July 15, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Staff Photo By Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)BOSTON, MA – July 15: American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten introduces First Lady Dr. Jill Biden before she spoke at the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) at the Boston Convention Center on July 15, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Staff Photo By Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald) BOSTON, MA - July 15: Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh speaks at the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) at the Boston Convention Center on July 15, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Staff Photo By Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)BOSTON, MA – July 15: Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh speaks at the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) at the Boston Convention Center on July 15, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Staff Photo By Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald) BOSTON, MA - July 15: Senator Elizabeth Warren speaks at the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) at the Boston Convention Center on July 15, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Staff Photo By Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)BOSTON, MA – July 15: Senator Elizabeth Warren speaks at the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) at the Boston Convention Center on July 15, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Staff Photo By Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

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