Remarks prepared for delivery by First Lady Jill Biden at North Carolina A&T University


Greensboro, North Carolina

Thanks Jayden. I can tell you have a gift and I am delighted to call you a colleague someday.

And MP Manning, Chancellor Martin, thank you for hosting us today.

Wow, I’m so excited to be here at AggieLand! It’s wonderful to help kick off Secretary Cardona’s Road to Success tour at our nation’s largest HBCU.

Like many of you, I’m back in class at my community college in Virginia. And I’ve always loved the start of a new school year.

There’s a moment just before my new class arrives, when I smell the smell of freshly waxed hardwood floors wafting through the air. I feel the fading glow of the still warm summer on my skin and hear a buzz of possibility in this fragile stillness, just waiting to be pierced by the chatter and laughter of new students coming through the door.

At that moment, I know that I am about to meet students whose lives I hope to change and who will change me in their own way. And I feel as lucky as the day I signed my first teaching contract.

Some of you here today know that feeling. Some, our education students, will know very soon.

Teaching is not just what we do; it’s who we are.

And yet, for all of us who have answered that call, there is someone who has not. Or someone who felt they had to go. Maybe one of you really wants to teach, but you have doubts.

Why? It’s not because they don’t want to teach. It’s because so many obstacles stood in their way: student loans and low wages. Class size and security issues.

If we want to add more bright and talented people in this field, if we want educators to be able to do what they do best, we need to give them the support they deserve.

We need to come to places like North Carolina A&T and say, we need you. Yes you.

Because our students of color deserve to have educators who look like them and who can understand their backgrounds. Because to best serve all of our students, our classrooms need diverse perspectives and the opportunity to learn from teachers from all walks of life.

That’s why we’re here today: to recruit you!

We’ve all heard of the so-called three “Rs” of learning: reading, writing, and arithmetic. Well, it’s time for the three Rs of teaching: recruit, respect and retain.

That’s what your president, Joe Biden, is doing. He works hard to elevate educators:

  • By opening schools and having teachers vaccinated
  • Make sure districts can hire more counselors and school psychologists
  • Call on states to raise teacher salaries
  • And cancel billions in student debt.

Joe was always going to be an education chair. I mean, he has to be because he comes home every night! But it’s also because he cares so much about it.

He will never stop working to recruit more people into this profession, to support mentor educators and restore the dignity and respect we deserve, and to give us the resources we need to continue doing this incredible work for years to come. years and years to come.

And educators, we also have a role to play. We are the best recruiters. We need to use that “teacher’s voice” that we know makes people listen and lets the world know what this job means to us…how we change lives every day.

We have to say: to the student who knows deep down that you have a gift…to the artist or engineer who wants to spread the joy of creating something out of nothing…to that person who is willing for a change, which aspires to more purpose and light in your daily life:

You too have a calling. Answer it. Become a teacher.

And when you do, you will find a vocation that will bring you joy and meaning.

You will know that someone out there thinks better thanks to you.

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

Someone works a little harder because you pushed them to try.

Someone is braver because you helped them find their courage.

And you’ll know it, too: your president and his administration work every day to make sure you get the support, respect, and compensation you deserve. Join us, become a teacher and we will change the world together, one student at a time.

Thanks.

And now it is my pleasure to introduce to you someone who leads with vision and heart as only a teacher can, our great Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona.

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