What strikes me most about Jill Biden is her compassion. When I interviewed her for Vogue in September, she was a bright light through the Zoom screen, taking the time to ask me about my daughter’s return to school: what grade she was in, whether she’d be remote or in person—the details that matter to teachers, moms, and grandmas.

That and she is a 69-year-old mother of three with a Dr. in front of her name, signaling one of her four degrees. When Joe Biden is inaugurated in January, Jill Biden will become the “first professor FLOTUS,” as CNN coined it—the first first lady who plans to work outside the White House, continuing her career as an English professor at Northern Virginia Community College in addition to her planned causes: free community college, military families, expanding cancer research and education.

“I like working,” Jill Biden told me. “Like so many of your readers, I’m a working woman. [Teaching is] my passion. That’s what I love doing. That has been my career and really a major focus in my life, so I feel like I could handle it and do everything else that first ladies want to do.” Though her decision has been called insane by some, Jill seems determined and prepared. She already kept up her full-time professorial duties as the second lady during two terms of the Obama administration. “Teaching is not what Jill does,” Joe Biden said in his wife’s Democratic National Convention introduction video. “It’s who she is.”

With Jill Biden in the White House, we will no longer have to wonder what, if anything, the first lady is doing. She represents a beacon for the East Wing, the chance to restore a sense of warmth and heart to the role. Jill, a 36-year educator, has made a career of caring. Her speech from an empty classroom at the virtual Democratic National Convention gave voice to the emotional weight parents like me had been feeling on behalf of our children throughout the pandemic. Here, finally, was a woman who understood the urgency and the sadness, someone who cared as much about sending children back to school as reopening restaurants and bars and hair salons.

“This quiet is heavy,” Jill said from the classroom. “You can hear the anxiety that echoes down empty hallways….The rooms are dark, as the bright young faces that should fill them are now confined to boxes on a computer screen.” Just as her husband, a man who has known loss and strived for bipartisanship, may be uniquely suited to lead in what is clearly still a divided country, Jill Biden is the right first lady for the moment, perfectly equipped to help steer the country out of an educational crisis.

A poem by Elayne Griffin Baker has circulated online in recent months: “There is no literature or poetry in this White House,” it begins. “No images of the first family enjoying themselves together in a moment of relaxation. / No Obamas on the beach in Hawaii moments, or Bushes fishing in Kennebunkport…. / Where did all of the fun and joy and expressions of love and happiness go?” I believe Jill Biden can help bring them back. Look no further than her deeply charming DNC introduction video (created by RBG documentary directors Julie Cohen and Betsy West), in which Jill huddles around the breakfast table with her granddaughters, whom she is known to rouse at 5 a.m. on Christmas Eve to go to SoulCycle. (She’s not a regular grandma, but a cool grandma.) They describe her as a “prankster” who isn’t above picking up a dead snake on one of her runs and later using it to scare one of her family members. Her husband calls her the rock of their family.

The country has often felt broken over the past four years. The Bidens know something about that. When Jill met Joe, he was a young senator and father of two small boys who had lost both his first wife and baby daughter in a car accident. “She put us back together,” Vice President Biden said of Jill. Putting the country back together is too tall an order for either Biden; there is so much work ahead to attempt to bring meaningful change to the systemic issues that plague us. But I expect Jill to play a crucial role in that work. “How do you make a broken family whole?” she asked in her DNC speech. “The same way you make a nation whole: with love and understanding.”

Source: vogue.com