Just one day after her husband President Joe Biden was sworn in to office, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden hosted her first virtual event, celebrating teachers on Thursday evening.
The fitting tribute came as the long-time educator says she plans to continue teaching during her husband's tenure as president.
The event, held on the Dr. Biden's first full day in the White House last week, included a recorded video message from the first lady, in which she thanked teachers for their "heroic commitment" throughout the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
"I have never felt prouder of our profession," the first lady said. "In this pandemic, educators have shown a heroic commitment to their students. So, on behalf of a grateful nation, thank you. You have been so strong. And now it's time for us to be strong for you."
The first lady also spoke about her husband's plan to safely reopen schools amid the pandemic, saying the president is "following the science and best practices, and he will be engaging with educators, all of you and your unions."
Teachers union presidents Randi Weingarten, of the American Federation of Teachers, and Becky Pringle, of the National Education Association, were also on hand at the event.
During her own remarks, Weingarten, 63, said that educators feel "respected" with the Bidens in office.
"We're working with an educator in the White House, someone who walks in our shoes, who knows the challenges and aspirations of our children. That is more than I can ever have imagined before this moment," Weingarten said.
In his first 48 hours in office, the president signed a a slew of executive orders, including one promising to "support the reopening and continuing operation of schools and early childhood education providers."
Dr. Biden spoke about her husband's plans to reopen schools in her Thursday evening address to teachers.
"He's following the science and best practices, and he will be engaging with educators, all of you and your unions," the first lady said. "He has a national strategy for COVID-19 response and safely reopening schools is critical for that plan."
Last Friday, Dr.. Biden made her first solo public outings as first lady, visiting both a local Washington, D.C., health clinic to highlight the importance of cancer treatment resources amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as making an unscheduled visit to deliver freshly-baked cookies to National Guardsmen stationed in the nation's capital.
Dr. Biden, a college English professor with four degrees including a doctorate, taught at Northern Virginia Community College during the eight years she served as second lady during the Obama administration.
In an interview with CBS Sunday Morning last August, Dr. Biden vowed to continue working as an educator even if her husband won the presidency.
"If we get to the White House, I'm going to continue to teach," Dr. Biden said. "It's important, and I want people to value teachers and know their contributions and lift up their profession."
After her husband won both the popular vote and the Electoral College vote over incumbent President Donald Trump in November, Biden was sworn in as the 46th president in an unprecedented inauguration Jan. 20, held amid an ongoing pandemic and in the wake of an attempted coup on the U.S. Capitol building.
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