EDUCATION + SCHOOLS

First Lady Jill Biden praises teachers in Utah during her visit

May 5, 2021, 7:25 PM | Updated: 7:28 pm
First Lady teachers Utah...
(First lady Jill Biden visits Glendale Middle School in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. Photo: Laura Seitz, Deseret News)
(First lady Jill Biden visits Glendale Middle School in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. Photo: Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY – First Lady Jill Biden wraps up a quick visit to Utah to thank teachers for their hard work over the past year. She also pledged the federal government will start doing more to show true appreciation for educators. 

The First Lady was greeted by many of Utah’s dignitaries when she touched down in Salt Lake City. She briefly spoke with Governor Spencer Cox, Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson, Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall and members of the Utah congressional delegation. 

Shortly after, she was taken to Glendale Middle School, where praised students and teachers for their hard work during the worst of the pandemic.

Some nearby residents, like Alana Reid, were thrilled at the visit. She works as a crossing guard and says all of the students were excited to see her. Reid said it was an honor for her town to be selected, especially since it doesn’t get favorable coverage in the press.

“It’s just awesome. I can’t believe it. (I support) anything like this in the Glendale area because they’re always calling us ‘the west side,’ ‘the gangster clan’ and ‘the ghetto,’” Reid said.

Praise for teachers

The crowd cheered after the First Lady said, “To all my colleagues, happy Teacher Appreciation Week.”

She believes the best way to show appreciation for teachers is to invest more money into the educational system. She laid out several things the current administration plans to do. 

The first was to give schools what they need to reopen safely. Also, she knows teachers’ wages need to be more competitive and more programs need to be installed to offer teachers more options.

“(The president) is also going to ensure we create more mentoring programs and pathways to earn additional credentials so that you can grow your career,” she said.

Plus, she believes the teaching profession needs to be more inclusive.

The First Lady said, “We’re going to fund scholarships and residency programs to strengthen our education workforce and recruit more teachers of color.”

She knows teaching has been especially tough over the past year, with teachers losing time with their students and children losing out on learning opportunities. Still, she says there are reasons to be hopeful.

“Teaching is profoundly optimistic,” Biden said.

Push for vaccinations

(First lady Jill Biden, right, visits a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Jordan Park in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

After her visit to Glendale Middle School, Biden greeted the workers of a pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Jordan Park. The clinic was hosted by Comunidades Unidas, and it was designed to encourage members of the state’ Latin-American community to get the vaccine. 

Representative Angela Romero believes that specific community is still lagging when it comes to the percentage of people who have at least one dose of the vaccine.

Romero said, “I was looking particularly at Glendale compared to the state, as a whole.  We’re at about 50 percent [statewide vaccination] and Glendale is at about 30 percent.”

The First Lady’s stop in Utah was part of a two-day trip with stops in Nevada and Colorado.

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First Lady Jill Biden praises teachers in Utah during her visit