The president touted his wife's work on education during his first speech to Congress
Jill biden
First Lady Dr. Jill Biden (center) before President Joe Biden delivers his first address to a joint session of Congress, on Wednesday
| Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/Bloomberg via Getty

Amid the serious nature of President Joe Biden's joint address to Congress — his first following the contentious 2020 election — were a few lighter moments on Wednesday evening, including a standing ovation for his wife, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

The applause came as the first lady, who wore an upcycled version of her inauguration dress, complete with a message of unity, entered the chamber ahead of her husband's speech.

Later in the night, President Biden, 78, touted his wife's role in the education proposals in his $1.8 trillion new American Families Plan, which he said includes "four additional years of public education for every person in America" and "two years of universal high-quality pre-school for every 3- and 4-year-old in America." (The legislation needs Republican support and faces an uncertain future in Congress.)

"Jill is a community college professor who teaches today as first lady," the president said in his address. "She has long said any country that out-educates us is going to outcompete us — and she'll be leading this effort."

Dr. Biden, a longtime educator, is the first first lady to maintain a job while carrying out her unpaid East Wing duties.

Upon announcing her intention to continue teaching after moving to the White House, she said last year: "I want people to value teachers and know their contributions and lift up their profession."

After taking the fall off to focus on the presidential campaign, she returned to teaching this spring and has acted as an advocate for education since her husband has been in office.

During a community college tour in Dixon, Illinois, earlier this month, Dr. Biden, 69, spoke to reporters about her duel roles, saying: "Most people now call me first lady. But to one group of Northern Virginia Community College [students], I am first, foremost and forever their writing professor: Dr. B."

An outspoken advocate for the value of a community college education, Dr. Biden said earlier this year that her husband's administration was backing ways to make it free.

In another more personal moment from Wednesday's speech, Kamala Harris' husband, Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, could be seen waving at the vice president enthusiastically before blowing her kisses from the socially-distanced crowd.

Wearing a mask, Emhoff then patted his chest over his heart before offering his wife one final wave.

Emhoff, 56, is a former entertainment attorney who in December was announced as a new instructor at the Georgetown University Law Center, where he currently teaches a two-credit course for the spring semester titled "Entertainment Law Disputes."

He and Harris met on a blind date in 2013 and got married a little over a year later, in August 2014.

Speaking of his role supporting his wife's work as vice president, Emhoff previously told PEOPLE: "She's got plenty of great people giving her political advice. I'm her partner, I'm her best friend and I'm her husband. And that's what I'm here for. I'm here to have her back."