The White House will hold a “state dinner” as part of its Teacher of the Year celebration on May 1, a White House official told CNN, part of the Biden administration’s ongoing efforts to champion public education.

First lady Dr. Jill Biden, herself a longtime teacher, announced the event on Wednesday while making a surprise visit on “CBS Mornings” to congratulate National Teacher of the Year and Tennessee educator Missy Testerman.

“I wanted to be here today to celebrate Missy, as I love celebrating teachers. And I have a special announcement Missy: When you come to the White House, we are going to have a ‘state dinner’ for the teachers,” Biden, herself a community college teacher, said. “It’s the first time ever.”

The White House typically hosts a National Teacher of the Year event each year, but this year’s celebration will welcome the National Teacher of the Year and teachers of the year from all 50 states for the event, the White House official said.

State dinners are typically reserved for heads of state and leaders of foreign countries, but there is precedent for using the term for other honorees in the past. Then-first lady Michelle Obama hosted several “Kids’ State Dinners” as part of her Let’s Move! initiative starting in 2012.

Biden has made teaching, specifically community college education, a cornerstone of her platform as first lady. She has been a teacher for almost four decades and holds the distinction of being the first first lady to have a job outside of the East Wing, spending her time teaching composition writing classes at Northern Virginia Community College.

In his State of the Union address this year, President Joe Biden addressed a few of his education goals, including universal pre-K and increasing investments in HBCUs and minority-serving institutions. He also mentioned his desire to “give public school teachers a raise” in his address but has not gone into specifics on the matter. The president attempted to include universal pre-K in the Inflation Reduction Act, but it was cut in the final version of the bill.

CNN’s Michelle Shen contributed to this report.


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