Jill Biden, America’s First Teacher

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Jill Biden already has the list of courses that she will teach starting in January. She may have to take a day off on January 20 when her husband, Joe Biden, takes office as the new president of the United States. She must hold in front of the Capitol in Washington the Bible in which Biden will be sworn in. The 69-year-old professor teaches English at Virginia Community College, has a Ph.D. and two Masters in Education, and has never considered abandoning her professional career. When she was second lady, during the administration of Barack Obama, she used to ask for permits for important acts of the vice presidency, but she always returned to the classrooms, as she has done since she began her career 36 years ago.

The new first lady will set a precedent as historic as usual in an average American household: she will be the first wife of a US president to hold a paid job. “I am a working woman. Teaching is my passion, it is what I love to do. It has been my career and the biggest focus of my life, so I feel that I can handle it and do everything that the first ladies want to do, “she commented in an interview with the magazine. Vogue. Jill Jacobs grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, the oldest of four siblings. At the age of 15 he got his first job to try to become independent from his family. “I wanted my own money, my own identity, my own career,” he told The New York Times in 2008.

She met Joe Biden on a blind date in 1975. She had come out of a short marriage to her high school boyfriend and was about to leave dating when Biden called her. But the politician had noticed her in an ad in the local newspaper in which Jill advertised a supermarket brand and her brother got her the phone number. Biden had been through his own drama a couple of years earlier: His first wife Neilia and their 13-month-old daughter Naomi were killed in a car accident. The new senator from Delaware had been left a widower in the care of his two young children: Hunter and Beau. The couple have told in several interviews that there were five marriage proposals, and that Jill accepted after clearing her doubts about also becoming the mother of the two children.

The family established the family home in Wilmington, Delaware, so Joe Biden spent much of his years in Congress commuting daily by train from Washington. The teacher decided to keep a low profile despite her husband’s political career. She worked in community colleges and universities, always away from renowned educational centers. He wrote his doctoral thesis on how to reduce school dropouts and retain students in higher education.

“All the time she is reviewing exams,” said former first lady Michelle Obama about how important her work as a teacher has been for Jill Biden. He only left his job in the classroom on two occasions: in 1981, when Ashley, their daughter, was born; and this year, when the electoral campaign began and had a series of trips planned. When the pandemic began, he became the person closest to the candidate and, although far from the classrooms, he dedicated himself to supporting his colleagues through Zoom conferences.

Jill Biden took on a significant role during the campaign. She attracted the spotlight during the primaries when she protected her husband from a protester who unexpectedly took the podium, but after speaking at the Democratic Convention in August, she became a key member of the Democratic campaign team. Her influence was crucial in electing Kamala Harris as the vice presidential candidate. During the campaign, he defended not only the candidate, but he also spoke frankly about the controversies around his son and defended him with elegance against the attacks of Donald Trump.

His agenda, he explained, is related to his story and that of Joe Biden: he will promote free education in community colleges, because he works in one; It will support military families as Biden’s two sons served in the Army, and it will support cancer research, as Beau Biden passed away in 2015 from a brain tumor. All while attending classes at Virginia Community College on time.

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