Teachers at P.S. 83 in the Bronx got a surprise visit from one of their own: teacher and first lady Jill Biden.

She arrived with an armful of chocolate chip cookies from the White House to discuss what it’s been like for teachers to work through the pandemic, and to thank them for it.

“You went above and beyond. You called parents, you delivered food, you went to your students' homes just to wave at them from the car or from the front porch. You made such a difference in those kids’ lives,” the first lady said.

Among those in the audience: Linda Collins, who has worked for the New York City Department of Education since 1971.

What You Need To Know

  • First lady Jill Biden — a longtime teacher and professor at a community college — visited P.S. 83 in the Bronx

  • She thanked the teachers for their hard work during the pandemic and heard about their experiences

  • Teacher Linda Collins, celebrating her 50th year with the DOE, said having the first lady there was an honor

“I didn’t know how to help the world, I didn’t know what to do. So I figured, well, I’d work as a teacher so I could help one kid at a time, and that would be the best thing I could do. And that’s what I’ve always tried to do,” Collins told NY1. Her 50 years of service earned her a standing ovation from Biden, whom Collins was touched had visited her school.

“It meant everything because the fact that she’s a teacher — and a lot of people say, 'I used to be a teacher,' but she’s still a teacher, and that gives such honor to our profession," Collins said. "It makes me so happy when I see her, that she’s Dr. Biden and she makes sure she gets the respect that she deserves.” Collins said.

And about that standing ovation? “Oh my gosh, I couldn’t even get over it. I’m still shaking,” she said.

Collins, who also got a hug from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, has most recently worked in staff development at P.S. 83. But last year, like many educators, she had to shift to a new position. She taught seventh graders, a challenge in the age of blended learning, because she’s not so computer savvy. Her students helped.

“So at the end of the year, being a teacher, I said to them, 'Do you see how I learned? I learned because I kept it up, and you taught me.' So it was the hardest year, just because of the computers, but it was so good to be with the kids,” Collins said.

It was stories like those that Biden was celebrating during her visit.

“I just wanted to come and say thank you to each and every one of you for all that you do for our kids, because you make such a difference. Never underestimate how you change people’s lives,” Biden said.