First Lady Jill Biden Speaks at Rhode Island College

Forman Center in the fall
Rhode Island College Impact

The First Lady participated in a networking event with education students and spoke on the importance of recruiting and retaining teachers, in a visit intended to promote the teaching profession.

First Lady of the United States Dr. Jill Biden, an English professor at Northern Virginia Community College, visited Rhode Island College on Wednesday, October 27 for a White House event at the Adams Library intended to encourage more young people to pursue teaching as a profession.

The First Lady joined education students from RIC and the Community College of Rhode Island, as well as teacher-mentors from Providence Public Schools, for a networking session hosted by Handshake, an online job platform for college students. Answering questions from the group, she spoke of why she became a teacher and her own experiences in the profession.

Following that, Dr. Biden spoke to a capacity crowd on the library's main level, including students, teachers and invited dignitaries. RIC President Jack R. Warner greeted the crowd and introduced Governor Daniel McKee. After brief remarks, the governor brought to the podium Grace Wells-Dannenfelser, a current student in the Feinstein School of Education and Human Development at RIC (pictured above left), to share her own story of pursuing a career in teaching. Grace then introduced the First Lady, who spoke passionately about the need to recruit more teachers into the education system and the impact they can have on students' lives. The full text of her speech is below. Watch the video here.

A logo featuring an illustration of the White House above the word "Office of the First Lady"

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by First Lady Jill Biden at Rhode Island College

Providence, RI

Thank you, Grace. I can tell that your future students are going to love the light and laughter you bring to your classroom. And I can’t wait to be able to call you my colleague.

Governor and First Lady McKee, thank you for giving us such a warm welcome.

Susan, you make this school—and your fellow educators—so proud. Isn’t that right, President Warner?

And thank you to Congressmen Cicilline and Langevin, and Senators Reed and Whitehouse for joining us on this visit.

Hearing Grace’s story—and being here with so many bright young students—takes me back to the moment when I decided to become a teacher all those years ago.

When I first started college, I wanted to go into what I thought would be the glamorous world of fashion marketing. But it just didn’t give me what I was looking for.

Instead, I found that spark when I volunteered with adults who couldn’t read. I realized then just how much books had shaped me—how I loved falling into them and escaping, or learning something new.

It broke my heart that there were people who didn’t know that joy. And it dawned on me that reading was a gift I could give to someone else.

Teaching isn’t just a job to me. It’s a calling—a way to live out the belief that we can shape our corner of the world, one student at a time.

And I think many of you may hear that voice calling you, too.

Right now, schools across the country need more teachers.

And since I’ve always felt that educators are the best spokespeople for our profession, I thought I’d come here to do just that. So, on behalf of the President, myself, and students and educators everywhere: I’m here to recruit you!

You know, I always knew that Joe would be a great education President. Because this means so much to him.

And he’s working every day to support what we call the three R’s of teaching: recruiting, respecting, and retaining our educators.

Our president created historic investments to safely re-open schools. He’s addressing the mental health and academic needs of our students and delivering on loan forgiveness for public servants. He’s strengthening programs like the ones here at RIC that give high school students a head start on their teaching degree.

And this is just the beginning. Joe will never stop working to give us the resources we need to keep doing this incredible job for years and years to come.

America’s students need bright, passionate, creative, and curious leaders who will bring their whole hearts to their work. We need you.

And to those who hear this calling but aren’t quite sure yet—I want to ask you to imagine yourself as a teacher.

Picture yourself sitting with a young person who struggled in the same way you have—and seeing that spark in her eyes when an idea suddenly falls into place. Or imagine yourself in a career where you’re never bored: where you laugh and learn something new every single day.

It’s all of that—and so much more.

Answer this call. Become a teacher. And when you do, you’ll find a profession that brings you joy and meaning.

You’ll know that someone out there is a better thinker because of you.

That someone is sitting a little taller because you gave him confidence.

Someone is working a little harder because you pushed her to try.

Someone is braver because you helped him find his courage.

And you’ll know this too: that your President and his administration are working every day to make sure you have the support, respect, and pay you deserve.

Join us. And we will change the world together, one student at a time.

Thank you.