Every year I look forward to BbWorld, primarily for the rich conversations with educators from around the world. I get to hear about the changes they see taking place around them, and how they are driving student success at their schools, institutions, and companies. It’s my favorite part of what I do.
To spark this year’s conversations, we want to open the three-day conference with a unique perspective, and one that is highly familiar with education. We’re proud that Dr. Jill Biden, former Second Lady of the United States and accomplished educator, has accepted our invitation to join us in New Orleans. She will deliver the opening keynote for BbWorld 2017, and I’m already day dreaming about it. Here’s why.
#1. Dr. Biden is a lifelong educator
Dr. Biden was the first Second Lady to work full time during her husband’s vice presidency, teaching English full-time in Northern Virginia. Because she has rooted her life in teaching almost every semester for the past 30 years, she’s able to speak to what drives student success, how teachers are impacted by infrastructure and policy changes, and how education can change someone’s life.
A few years ago I heard an interesting NPR story about how Dr. Biden leaves her “other life” outside the classroom so she can focus on her students when she’s at the front of the room. If you want to learn more about her perspective on teaching, I encourage you to listen too. Click here for the 2013 story titled, “In the classroom, Jill Biden is a Teacher First.”
#2. Dr. Biden is a steadfast advocate of education
I remember when Dr. Biden traveled around the United States on a “Community College to Career” tour, bridging the gap between community colleges and employers. Workforce readiness is a topic that I’m passionate about as well, and found her leadership inspiring–fostering conversations, driving awareness, and getting involved at the grass roots level.
When she hosted the first-ever White House Summit on Community Colleges with President Obama, I was thrilled to see this topic take center stage on a national scale. At the time of the Summit, 43% of all college students were enrolled in community colleges. And that number hasn’t changed much since. Dr. Biden saw how this kind of education could turn into economic success for these students, and our country at large.
Dr. Biden unquestionably had a big influence in shaping administrative and congressional attitudes with regard to the importance of this sector of the education system. With this influence, the Obama Administration made historic investments in financial aid, tripling investments in tax credits for college expenses, increasing the maximum Pell grant by over $800, and making the financial aid process easier and faster to navigate.
#3. Dr. Biden is an inspirational leader
What I find most inspiring about Dr. Biden’s story is her ability to translate her vision into action and policy. She has mastered the art of acting locally and nationally at the same time, and that is a claim that very few can make.
I thought it might be fun to read some student reviews of Dr. Biden from her recent classes. A few themes shine through these discussions of Dr. Biden as a teacher—she has high expectations, she pushes her students to do better, and she goes out of her way to enable success. And when she walks out the door, she hits the road to influence national policy and lead productive conversations around driving student success. Leadership skills like these are few and far between.
And on top of it all, she has a deep understanding of the possibilities of education. With a PhD in Education and a dissertation on student retention, she brings an overwhelming reputation to the BbWorld stage, and we couldn’t be more proud to host her.
I hope you will join me in hearing from her at BbWorld, engaging in very active dialogue and hearing effective practices and insights from schools, institutions and companies from around the globe.