Jill Biden’s return to the classroom: “I want students to see me as their English teacher”

The White House has shared few details about first lady Jill Biden’s return to teaching, even though it’s the first time in history a first lady has held a full-time job outside the East Wing.

But getting Dr. Biden back to her students required months of negotiation, concerns about how to list her in the schedule and a close reading of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause among other things, according to hundreds of planning and administrative documents obtained by CBS News through a public records request to Northern Virginia Community College.

First Lady Jill Biden speaks with students in Becky Taylor’s classroom as she visits the Christa McAuliffe School in Concord, New Hampshire, on March 17, 2021.


The emails reflect an attempt by the first lady to keep a low profile even as she is now far more recognized than when she taught during her time as second lady. Special considerations — like whether her name would appear on schedules for students enrolling in Dr. Biden’s English classes — were discussed for weeks.

“I think she was going to be listed as ‘TBA,'” the NOVA Community College president told her administrative colleagues in an email at the end of November. But a month later, the dean told the first lady he was “worried” she would not get the class schedule she would like because of the “TBA” professor listing. “I would like to put ‘Biden’ rather than ‘TBA’…is that all right with you?” he asked.

But days before classes were to begin in January, the issue of which name would appear was apparently unresolved. The campus provost told her colleagues the “name is the hold up” in order to “pin down plans for Jill’s schedule.” Potentially complicating the decision was Biden’s use at the college of her middle name, Tracy, sometimes in lieu of her last name, because her account information had to match in the remote teaching system.

Ultimately, the public schedule listed morning classes with “Jill T. Biden.”

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Bourbiza Mohamed. Writer and Political Discourse Analysis.

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