This afternoon, I (Dr. Jill Biden) was so honored to meet two of our nation’s youngest heroes – 11-year-old twin sisters Felicity and Abigail. The 7th graders love to read and play sports, and, like many of our nation’s 1.3 million school-age military children, their current school is not their first school.
Felicity and Abigail have attended five different schools in four states in the past seven years. They have left old friends and met new ones, transferred school records, left old soccer fields to join new teammates and coaches, and weathered their father’s many deployments. Their dad missed birthdays four, seven, eight, nine and 10.
But they are resilient and strong young ladies who are fiercely proud to be Army kids. I am proud of them, too.
I am also proud that today, more than 100 colleges of teacher education have signed on to Operation Educate the Educators, a partnership between the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education and the Military Child Education Coalition. Last year, the partners set a Joining Forces goal of getting 100 colleges of education to commit to raising awareness on their campuses about military children in their classrooms, and to help better prepare teachers to support them.
Today, I joined Army Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno, Felicity and Abigail, and military families to celebrate this milestone. As an educator and a military mom, today was personal to me. I know how much it means to a family when a teacher makes a special effort to support a military child in school.
When my son Beau was deployed to Iraq, my granddaughter Natalie’s teacher hung a photo of Beau’s unit to Natalie’s classroom door. This simple gesture reminded the school staff and Natalie’s classmates that her dad was at war. It meant so much to her to know that she didn’t have to go through that year alone, and that her teachers and friends were looking out for her. It meant so much to Joe and me, too.
When a teacher arranges a parent-teacher conference by Skype for a deployed mom or dad, or when a principal celebrates the Marine Corps birthday in the school cafeteria with the entire school, it helps a military family stay connected.
Our military families sacrifice so much, and we owe it to them to support them in every way possible. That is why the First Lady and I started Joining Forces, a national effort to encourage all Americans to support military families. Today, I was honored to celebrate a very meaningful Joining Forces commitment that will make a difference in the lives of our military children.
You can watch Dr. Biden’s remarks here