ST. MICHAELS — Their classrooms were closed, and they weren’t invited anyway, so the staff and students of Hunters Point Boarding School were at home Friday when first lady Jill Biden stepped inside their empty dormitory.
In their place were seven students and educators from around the Navajo Nation, who’d gathered to talk in private with the White House’s resident teacher about their education.
They sat in a circle in the cleared-out common room, underneath a massive painting of the rock formation that gave the school its name. Pool tables and a mess of sofas had been shoved into one corner. Paper signs identified each participant: “Jonathan” for Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and “Phefelia” for the tribe’s first lady. Her counterpart’s said, simply, “Jill.”
Biden had just arrived at the school, but said she already felt right at home. A writing instructor at Northern Virginia Community College, she’d spent the morning talking to her own students through their final exams. All year they’d told her how difficult the year had been.
“This semester has been so hard, hasn’t it?” Biden said now. “A lot of my students, like probably some of you, have lost family members. They’ve had to deal with not only a lot of loss in their lives, but this has been so different, learning over Zoom and trying to connect and feel that sense of community that I think teachers create in classrooms that is so important.”
That challenge has been pronounced on the Navajo Nation, which has counted more […]