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Jill Biden Visits Pensacola

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

Dr. Jill Biden – the wife of Vice President Joe Biden – visited Escambia High School Friday to kick off the Escambia County School District’s involvement in the National Math and Science Initiative, along with its expansion. 

The initiative – NMSI – is a non-profit founded in 2007, after the National Academies commissioned a report that indicated a decline in student achievement in math and science. Escambia County is one of only two school districts in Florida – and 13 nationwide – accepted into the program this year.

“If anyone has any doubt that the Escambia School District’s moving in the right direction then they should put the cap on it,” said Escambia Superintendent Malcolm Thomas, adding that they plan to build on NMSI in the next school year.

Escambia – along with Pensacola, Pine Forest, Washington and West Florida High Schools -- will participate in the College Readiness Program., joining nearly 800 high schools and one million-plus students nationwide.

“I’m so pleased to be back in Florida and as a teacher I feel right at home at Escambia High School,” said Dr. Jill Biden as she greeted the audience Friday. “It’s great to be here.”

During her seven-minute address, Dr. Jill Biden spoke about “Joining Forces” – a group founded by her and First Lady Michelle Obama in 2011 -- aimed at united non-profits, schools, foundations and businesses to give all Americans the opportunity to step up and show their support for military families.

“NMSI has done just that to ensure that students at military-connected schools are prepared for the rigors of college and their careers,” Biden said. “I’m so proud to announce the expansion of NMSI’s College Readiness Program for military families.”

About 100 military-connected schools participate in College Readiness. A federal grant funds teacher-to-teacher instruction; Advanced Placement summer courses, a workshop in the fall for those teaching grades three-through-12.

“I want you to know that our administration, the president, the vice president, the first lady, all of us are here for you. We belive in you,” said Biden in concluding her remarks.

Biden was joined by Jason Silva, the host of “Brain Games” on the National Geographic Channel.

Silva played a number of games with student teams from the schools entering NMSI. One was to connect all nine dots with four straight lines in ten seconds.

More information on Joining Forces and the National Math and Science Initiative can be found at www.JoiningForces.gov, and at www.nms.org

Dave came to WUWF in September, 2002, after 14 years as News Director at the Alabama Radio Network in Montgomery, Mobile and Birmingham and a total of 27 years in commercial radio. He's also served as Alabama Bureau Chief for United Press International, and a stringer for the Birmingham Post-Herald.