Jill Biden Returns to the Classroom to Teach in Person for First Time Since Entering the White House
School is back in session for Dr. Jill Biden.
The first lady, 70, marked the start of a new academic year on Tuesday, the Associated Pres reports, when she returned to campus at Northern Virginia Community College to teach classes in-person this fall.
Biden, who has been working at the college since 2009, teaches writing and English. After months of remote instruction amid the coronavirus pandemic she's heading back into the classroom — where she has made a bit of history as the only first lady in memory to maintain a paying job outside the White House.
Nonetheless, President Joe Biden's wife keeps a strict divide between her personal and professional life. Known as "Dr. B" to many of her students, she keeps politics out of the classroom and previously said some of her students were unaware she was married to the then-vice president according to the AP.
This fall, Dr. Biden is set to teach Tuesdays and Thursdays and will travel when she's not in the classroom. According to The New York Times, the classes are a hybrid of in-person and online.
NOVA is requiring everyone to wear a face covering while indoors this semester, regardless of vaccination status; Dr. Biden has received the COVID-19 vaccine.
She has been vocal about her love for teaching and her passion for her career in the past, telling PEOPLE in 2009, "I want to do what I love. I knew if I let any time lapse, I would be sucked into Joe's life."
Ahead of her husband's presidential victory last year, Dr. Biden said would continue teaching if she became first lady.
"If we get to the White House, I'm going to continue to teach," she told CBS Sunday Morning in November. "It's important, and I want people to value teachers and know their contributions and lift up their profession."
And in the Bidens' first interview after entering the White House, she told PEOPLE, "That's my passion, that's my life."
Dr. Biden underscored the importance of her identity as an educator — something she also touts in public appearances while focusing on school issues — in a message sent out to co-workers the week after her husband's inauguration, according to CBS.
"I am an English teacher at NOVA — not first lady. I am trying to keep my roles separate as I did as Second Lady," she wrote then. "I appreciate your enthusiasm, but I want students to see me as their English teacher. I am not mentioning it in my classes AT ALL. Thanks for honoring my teacher identity. Jill."
Dr. Biden, who has been teaching for decades, previously opened up to Good Housekeeping about what inspired her to pursue a career in the classroom.
"In college, I started working with older students who struggled with reading. I've always loved to read, and I wanted to help them find that same joy that I found in books," she said. "It was then that I knew that I'd found my calling."
When asked what the most rewarding part of her job is, Dr. Biden told the magazine, "There is nothing like helping students find their confidence and begin to use their voices, or seeing that spark light up in their eyes the moment a concept falls into place."