Dr. Jill Biden is the first lady, but she’s still an educator at heart. Dr. Biden flew across the country to make an appearance at Kermit R. Booker, Sr. Innovative Elementary School in Nevada, which employs Juliana Urtubey, the recently-awarded 2021 National Teacher of the Year. The first lady surprised Urtubey by showing up to her classroom with flowers in hand.
The clips of the joyful meeting aired on CBS This Morning. The two educators also spoke with Gayle King in a joint interview. “I’m so excited because, you know, Juliana is our National Teacher of the Year, and I’m so proud today to be an educator,” Biden said on the morning show. “Look at Juliana—I mean, she is just the epitome of a great teacher, a great educator.”
“I was obviously elated,” Urtubey said of the surprise meeting. “I mean, it’s so amazing. And I’m so grateful for a change of tone of positivity, of focusing on education to get our students what they need. It’s so beautiful.”
Juliana Urtubey is referred to as “Ms. Earth” among her special education students for her work in beautifying the school and advocating for and unifying the school community with gardens and murals. According to her biography on the NTOY website, Urtubey serves as a co-teacher in pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade special education settings and as an instructional strategist developing a school-wide Multi-Tiered System of Supports for academic, social-emotional, and behavioral interventions.
In her interview, Dr. Jill Biden explained how crucial educators are to the country. “For so long, teachers were undervalued,” she admitted. “But now hopefully, you know, all of America after this pandemic has seen what teachers have done and how they’ve just taken care of our kids. It’s just been such a tough time, and teachers have risen to this moment.”