Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by First Lady Jill Biden at the 2023 International Summit on the Teaching Profession
Thank you, Secretary Cardona. You lead our Department of Education with so much heart, and it’s wonderful to see you representing it to the world. Thank you for all that you do.
It’s an honor to meet all of you and help welcome you to our nation’s capital.
The students of the United States, just like the young people of your nations, are the greatest resource we have. They will lead us into the future and reimagine what our planet can do.
That’s why, like so many of you, we are committed to making sure education works for all students.
As some of you know, I continue to teach at Northern Virginia Community College, just a few miles from here. My students come from every walk of life, and many from around the world. They’re veterans, first-generation students, and refugees.
They’re determined and resilient. They’re curious and kind. They work hard and dream of building a better life for themselves, their families, and their community.
But it’s not always easy. They face so many challenges, from food insecurity to child care to mental health. And those became so much worse during the pandemic. The isolation and fear, losing jobs and security, even people they loved.
For me, it was difficult to know how to help when I couldn’t read their body language through a screen or pull them aside after class.
We found ways to get through it together, and I saw such incredible resilience and strength in each one of them. Today, so much has changed, has gotten better. But recovery isn’t always the same as healing.
Throughout the world, young people are wrestling with their mental health. And it’s up to all of us to give everyone the understanding and support that they need. Here in the United States, that’s one of our top priorities.
I always knew Joe would be a great education President, because he knows the importance of education in students’ lives.
In his campaign, he promised that we would have a Secretary of Education who comes from a public-school classroom, someone who knows what it’s like to sit with a child who is struggling, who’s felt the joy of seeing their eyes light up when an idea finally falls into place. Miguel brings just that experience.
And Joe is investing in our schools and teachers like never before.
He understands that kids need an early start, as well as support after they graduate from high school. That’s why the Biden education pathway starts with high-quality universal preschool and continues through high school, preparing students for college and careers, no matter where they live. It bridges the gap between education and work, connecting learning to careers that pay well.
We’re making incredible progress. But there are still challenges ahead.
Just this Monday, we honored our National Teacher of the Year and our State Teachers of the Year at the White House, and I’m so excited to see many of them joining us today.
Miguel and I had the chance to hear their stories. They told us about the obstacles they face. They shared amazing stories of triumph and innovation and what makes them hopeful for the future.
And we are eager to listen and learn from all of you as well. Many of you have faced similar challenges and built successful systems to address them. I hope that you’ll share your stories with us, whether that’s through your work here in DC or in your home countries.
This work matters. Education matters. It changes lives.
And when we commit to building an education system that works for all, schools and communities are stronger. Teachers have the support they need to reach students where they are. Parents don’t have to worry that their children are being left behind, and kids grow and learn every day.
So to all of the educators with us now: Never underestimate the power of what you do.
Right now, someone out there is a better thinker because of you. Someone is standing a little taller because you helped her find the confidence she needed.
Someone is working a little harder because you pushed him to try. Someone is kinder because you showed her what that meant. Someone is braver because you helped him find his courage.
I hope you have a fantastic conference. And I look forward to seeing what we can do for our students around the world, together.