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Jill Biden says help is on the way for New Hampshire schools to the tune of $350 million

  • First lady Jill Biden speaks with a student in Becky Taylor's classroom as she visits the Christa McAuliffe School in Concord, N.H., Wednesday, March 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool) ap — Susan Walsh

  • First lady Jill Biden arrives at Manchester–Boston Regional Airport in Manchester, N.H., Wednesday, March 17, 2021. She is visiting the area to emphasize that the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan signed into law by President Joe Biden last week will provide funding for the reopening of schools. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool) Susan Walsh—AP

  • First lady Jill Biden, right, talks with N.H. Gov. Chris Sununu, center, and Manchester, N.H., Mayor Joyce Craig, right, after arriving at Manchester–Boston Regional Airport in Manchester, N.H., Wednesday, March 17, 2021. Biden is visiting the area to emphasize that the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan signed into law by President Joe Biden last week will provide funding for the reopening of schools. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool) Susan Walsh—AP

  • First lady Jill Biden, right, meets with Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., left, and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., center, at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, March 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool) ap —Susan Walsh

  • First lady Jill Biden, center, sits for tea with Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., left, and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., second from left, at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, March 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool) Susan Walsh—AP

  • First lady Jill Biden talks with N.H. Gov. Chris Sununu after arriving at Manchester–Boston Regional Airport in Manchester, N.H., Wednesday, March 17, 2021. Biden is visiting the area to emphasize that the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan signed into law by President Joe Biden last week will provide funding for the reopening of schools. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool)

  • First lady Jill Biden speaks with students virtually in Becky Taylor's classroom as she visits the Christa McAuliffe School in Concord, N.H., Wednesday, March 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool) Susan Walsh—AP

  • First lady Jill Biden speaks with a student in Becky Taylor's classroom as she visits the Christa McAuliffe School in Concord, N.H., Wednesday, March 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool) Susan Walsh—AP

  • First lady Jill Biden speaks with students in Becky Taylor's classroom as she visits the Christa McAuliffe School in Concord, N.H., Wednesday, March 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool) Susan Walsh / AP

  • First lady Jill Biden speaks with students in Becky Taylor's classroom as she visits the Christa McAuliffe School in Concord, N.H., Wednesday, March 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool) Susan Walsh—AP

  • First lady Jill Biden speaks with a student as she visits the Christa McAuliffe School in Concord, N.H., Wednesday, March 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool) Susan Walsh—AP

  • First lady Jill Biden speaks to a student as she visits Christa McAuliffe School in Concord, N.H., Wednesday, March 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool) Susan Walsh—AP

  • First lady Jill Biden visits Christa McAuliffe School in Concord, N.H., Wednesday, March 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool) Susan Walsh—AP

  • First lady Jill Biden speaks with students in Becky Taylor's classroom as she visits the Christa McAuliffe School in Concord, N.H., Wednesday, March 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool) Susan Walsh—AP

  • First lady Jill Biden speaks to a student as she visits Christa McAuliffe School in Concord, N.H., Wednesday, March 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool) Susan Walsh—AP

  • First lady Jill Biden speaks to a student as she visits Christa McAuliffe School in Concord, N.H., Wednesday, March 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool) Susan Walsh—AP

  • First lady Jill Biden visits the Christa McAuliffe School in Concord, N.H., Wednesday, March 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool) Susan Walsh—AP

  • First lady Jill Biden visits the Christa McAuliffe School in Concord, N.H., Wednesday, March 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool) Susan Walsh—AP

  • First lady Jill Biden speaks with students virtually during a visit to the Christa McAuliffe School in Concord, N.H., Wednesday, March 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool) Susan Walsh—AP

  • First lady Jill Biden tours the Christa McAuliffe School with principal Kris Gallo in Concord, N.H., Wednesday, March 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool) Susan Walsh—AP

  • ">

    First lady Jill Biden holds a Christa McAuliffe commemorative coin she received as she speaks at Christa McAuliffe School in Concord, N.H., Wednesday, March 17, 2021, to pay tribute to the New Hampshire woman chosen 35 years ago to be America's "Teacher in Space."(AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool) Susan Walsh photos / AP

  • ">

    First lady Jill Biden speaks as she visits the Christa McAuliffe School in Concord, N.H., Wednesday, March 17, 2021, to pay tribute to the New Hampshire woman chosen 35 years ago to be America's "Teacher in Space" and to emphasize that the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan signed into law by President Joe Biden last week will provide funding for the reopening of schools. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool) Susan Walsh—AP

  • ">

    First lady Jill Biden speaks as she visits the Christa McAuliffe School in Concord, N.H., Wednesday, March 17, 2021, to pay tribute to the New Hampshire woman chosen 35 years ago to be America's "Teacher in Space" and to emphasize that the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan signed into law by President Joe Biden last week will provide funding for the reopening of schools. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool) Susan Walsh—AP

  • First lady Jill Biden waves to students as she visits the Christa McAuliffe School in Concord, N.H., Wednesday, March 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool) Susan Walsh—AP

  • A Christa McAuliffe coin is displayed before it is given to first lady Jill Biden at Christa McAuliffe School in Concord, N.H., Wednesday, March 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool) Susan Walsh—AP

  • First lady Jill Biden visits the Christa McAuliffe School in Concord, N.H., Wednesday, March 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool) Susan Walsh—AP

  • ">

    First lady Jill Biden speaks as she visits the Christa McAuliffe School in Concord, N.H., Wednesday, March 17, 2021, to pay tribute to the New Hampshire woman chosen 35 years ago to be America's "Teacher in Space" and to emphasize that the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan signed into law by President Joe Biden last week will provide funding for the reopening of schools. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool) Susan Walsh—AP

  • ">

    First lady Jill Biden speaks as she visits the Christa McAuliffe School in Concord, N.H., Wednesday, March 17, 2021, to pay tribute to the New Hampshire woman chosen 35 years ago to be America's "Teacher in Space" and to emphasize that the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan signed into law by President Joe Biden last week will provide funding for the reopening of schools. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool) Susan Walsh—AP

Concord Monitor
Published: 3/17/2021 9:15:27 PM
Modified: 3/17/2021 9:25:02 PM

CONCORD — Jill Biden was the first person in the country to receive a Christa McAuliffe commemorative coin Wednesday, during a visit to New Hampshire that included a stop at the school named after the famed Concord teacher-turned-astronaut.

The first lady stopped in the Granite State as part of a multi-state tour to promote President Joe Biden’s new $1.9 trillion COVID-19 bill, intended to boost the economy and aid low-income families.

President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and second gentleman Doug Emhoff are traveling to other states this week as part of the same effort, which the White House is calling the “Help is Here” tour.

On Wednesday morning, Jill Biden spoke with Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan at the White House before flying to New Hampshire. At noon, she toured Christa McAuliffe School with Principal Kris Gallo and Vice Principal Carol McCarthy, visited students in classrooms and later gave a speech in the school’s cafeteria to an assembled group of about 35 people.

“You’ve both led this school through a difficult year, a really difficult year, with resilience and grit,” Jill Biden told school officials.

She said she felt “at home” in Concord, due to her connections in the area and through her friendships with the McAuliffe family. Her son, the late Beau Biden, was a clerk for Judge Steven McAuliffe, husband of the late Christa McAuliffe. The U.S. District Courthouse, where Beau worked from 1994 to 1995, is right across the street from the school.

In her remarks, Jill Biden talked about the COVID-19 relief bill, which includes $1,400 stimulus checks for most Americans and $130 billion allocated to school reopening. New Hampshire’s K-12 schools will receive $350 million.

“When schools like Christa McAuliffe are open full time, and child care providers are safe and affordable, parents can focus on the careers they love and support their families,” the first lady said. “When our neighbors can stop worrying about how they can put food on their tables or keep their homes, they can invest in their communities. They can make towns and cities better for everyone.”

Fourth grade student Vivian Wierwille, who was selected to introduce Jill Biden, became visibly emotional during her introduction.

“I adore you, because you embrace change for my generation and the ones to come,” Wierwille said to Jill Biden, standing on a box to reach the microphone. “I look up to you.”

At the event, Steven McAuliffe presented Jill Biden with the commemorative silver dollar, saying it is fitting she should receive it, because the first lady is a former teacher herself.

Wednesday was the first day of distribution for the silver dollars, which are being manufactured by the U.S. Mint to commemorate Christa McAuliffe, the former Concord High School social studies teacher who was selected to be part of a NASA program as the first teacher in space. She died along with six other astronauts in the Challenger disaster of 1986. The coins sell for $74 and a portion of the proceeds go to FIRST Robotics, a program that offers STEM education through robotics competitions.

“Christa insisted, always, that her proper role was that of a representative,” Steven McAuliffe said. “In her view, she was chosen to represent her classroom teacher colleagues. That was the role she relished, that was the role she embraced, drawing attention to the enormous and heroic daily contributions teachers make to this great country of ours.”

Jill Biden said Christa McAuliffe has been a hero for her as an educator. At the time of the Challenger disaster, the first lady was teaching English to teens at a psychiatric hospital in Delaware.

“My fellow educators and I were so proud of what she was doing,” Jill Biden said. “Her legacy drives this school and its mission. For the children of Concord, it has inspired a generation of girls across the country to learn more, to be great, to grow up to be scientists and researchers and yes, astronauts.”

Gallo said school administrators found out on Friday that the first lady was going to be visiting, and had to do a lot of swift planning, working with the U.S. Secret Service to make sure the event would run smoothly. The school was closed for three hours Wednesday for the event, with nobody permitted to enter or leave.

“It’s been just over a year since we have had any visitors in our building, so this is a very different view for us,” McCarthy said. “It looks and it feels really good.”

Gallo said afterward that the experience was “amazing.”

“I think I was most blown away having a conversation with Dr. Biden that felt very natural,” Gallo said. “She’s an educator, so she understands our language, she understands our needs, and she was just very easy to converse with.”

Gallo said that while she doesn’t yet know how much money her school will receive from the COVID-19 relief bill, the district’s administrators plan to spend it addressing students’ mental and emotional health. She said her students have been struggling with anxiety about the virus, being away from school, and returning to school in the near future.

“When you’re not mentally healthy, accessing learning is very hard,” Gallo said. “Not all families can access mental health, and that falls on the schools and we don’t have all the resources, nor all the expertise to support that area. We do have experts in the mental health profession here, we just want more of them.”




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