First lady Jill Biden was in the Big Apple Wednesday to visit a public elementary school in the Bronx.
Biden was joined at the K-8 to PS 83 on Rhinelander Ave. by Mayor Bill de Blasio, Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, in whose district the school sits.
Fewer than 20 people were waiting behind barricades for the first lady’s arrival, along with a few protesters who left once she entered the school.
Biden spoke to about two dozen teachers in the library on the school’s third floor, bringing them cookies as a special treat.
”I just wanted to come and thank each and every one of you for all that you do for our kids, because you make such a difference,” she said.
American Federation of Teachers boss Randi Weingarten tweeted a photo of the masked first lady and her audience, saying that Biden was listening to “stories of #back2school… building relationships, overcoming trauma & nervousness about coming back & seeing the joy about being back.”
The first lady spoke about student anxiety as more children and adults return to in-person learning amid the slowing COVID-19 pandemic and how teachers can respond mentally and emotionally.
As Biden left the school, she gave a thumbs-up when a reporter asked: “How was your trip to the Bronx?”
Jill Biden, who teaches English at Northern Virginia Community College, has frequently traveled solo to push education spending proposed by her husband’s administration — including increases in teacher pay.
“I think Joe is saying, ‘We have to pay our teachers more.’ And we’re getting more money to the schools,” Jill Biden told “CBS Mornings” Tuesday. “I mean, they have to give more money to teachers. I mean, it’s just the bottom line.”
On Monday, President Biden and the first lady hosted a “teacher of the year” celebration on the White House lawn.
While his wife chatted up Big Apple educators, Joe Biden was traveling to Scranton, Pa., to tout the bipartisan infrastructure deal passed by the Senate and his $3.5 trillion Build Back Better social spending package that has been stalled in Congress.
Earlier Wednesday, Jill Biden addressed the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy National Summit on Adult Literacy at the Kennedy Center in Washington, where she lauded the late Barbara Bush for her “tenacity” and “wisdom” and for the “legacy she created.”
“Reading is the foundation of all education. It affects every aspect of our society,” Biden said. “And this group, which has done so much to advance literacy in our country, is a powerful testament to first lady Barbara Bush—how she was able to use her role to change lives for decades to come.”
The first lady also reflected on her current role, saying “there’s nothing that can prepare you” for it.
“We aren’t elected. We have to define this role for ourselves. And we are thrust into the national spotlight in a way I know none of us could have anticipated,” she said.
“As first lady, everything you say or do carries more weight,” Biden added. “And while that can be intimidating at times, it’s also what makes this role special.”
“As Lady Bird Johnson said, it is ‘a fleeting chance to do something for your country that makes your heart sing,’” she said. “I just love that.”