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Jill Biden makes her solo debut as first lady

Jill Biden held her first solo event as first lady on Thursday night, holding a zoom call with educators to praise their work during the pandemic.

'As a fellow educator and your first lady welcome to the White House,' she said in her opening.

On the 22-minute call, Biden revealed she taught her community college class the morning she and the president left for Washington D.C. for his inauguration, joked it's 'funny' to call her husband President Biden, and vowed the administration would help schools fight the pandemic. 

Jill Biden, dressed in a cherry red dress and pearls, hit the ground running on her first full day in the White House. She joined President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff in attending a virtual interfaith prayer service Thursday morning. Then held her event Thursday night.

Jill Biden held her first solo event as first lady on Thursday night, holding a zoom call with educators

Jill Biden hit ground running her first full day as first lady; above she joined President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff in attending a virtual interfaith prayer service

It's a marked contrast to her predecessor, Melania Trump. Melania Trump stayed in New York for the first few months of her husband's administration so their son could finish out the school year there. 

Her first event was a short speech at International Women of Courage ceremony at the State Department on March 29, 2017, followed by an appearance at the annual White House Easter Egg roll in April.

Jill Biden, who said she would continue her teaching job alongside her first lady duties, told the educators on the call she is currently teaching this semester. She teaches writing at Northern Virginia Community College, where she taught full-time as second lady throughout the Obama administration.

'I am teaching hybrid this semester myself. And I have to tell you, you know, I, the one thing I love about educators, is that we all, I think, help one another. And so I had to take the hybrid training. And actually, on Tuesday morning, before we got on the plane to come to Washington, I was actually teaching my class,' she told them.

She also outlined a list of promises her husband had made for educators and schools: hiring more counselors nurses and custodial staff, reducing class sizes, scaling up COVID testing in schools, promoting access to vaccines for educators and providing funding to state and local governments.

And she joked it was funny to call her husband of 43 years the president.

'I mean it's funny to call on President Biden,' she said after repeatedly referring to him as 'Joe.'

On the virtual call with educators, Jill Biden told educators her husband would help them and their schools fight the COVID pandemic

Joe Biden and his family made a stylish statement while posing in front of the statue of Abraham Lincoln the night he was inauguration: Son-in-law Howard, granddaughters Natalie and Maisy, daughter Ashley, wife Jill, granddaughters Finnegan and Naomi, and grandson Hunter

Jill Biden joked it was funny to call her husband of 43 years the president

Biden is the first modern first lady to balance an outside job alongside her ceremonial role. 

She already has announced some of her plans for her time in the East Wing. In addition to work on education issues, she has revived Joining Forces, her initiative for military families that she started with Michelle Obama when she was second lady.

She was subject of controversy before she sat foot in the White House when the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed from writer Joseph Epstein that called for her to drop the honorific 'Doctor' from her name.

It caused an immediate backlash on social media. 

She told Stephen Colbert in response that 'One of the things I'm most proud of is my doctorate. I mean I worked so hard for it.' 

Jill Biden didn't bring up the controversy on the call where she was joined by Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, and Becky Pringle, president of the National Education Association.

Both women referred to Biden as 'Doctor Biden' during the conversation.

'I love using Doctor Biden before your name,' Weingarten told her.

'Thank you,' Jill Biden said. 

'It's interesting to have had that tussle with the Wall Street Journal, because in that moment, teachers all across America said, Dr. Biden is a doctor. She earned that doctorate. That doctorate was something that she earned in education. And that shows our respect for her,' Weingarten said. 

Biden ended her call with a peep talk for teachers who have been struggling to hold classes online and in person during the pandemic. 

'This is our moment, because we know how to turn chaos into something beautiful. We do it every day in our classrooms,' she said.

'We know how to be a light in the darkness and Joe is going to be a champion for you. Because he knows that's the best way to serve our students. Together we are going to transform our nation's education system. And when we do that, we will change the course of our future forever. And if you ever wonder if it's possible. Just remember that the First Lady of the United States is one of your own,' she concluded.

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