By Beth Germano

CONCORD, N.H. (CBS) – The “Help Is Here” tour brought first lady Dr. Jill Biden, a former teacher, to Christa McAuliffe Elementary School in Concord, New Hampshire, on Wednesday to engage students in person and on Zoom.

“This school, like schools across the country, can’t fully reopen without help,” said Dr. Biden.

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That help is in the form of billions in stimulus money, some earmarked for schools like this one where fifteen percent of students are still learning remotely.

The “Help Is Here” tour brought first lady Dr. Jill Biden, a former teacher, to Christa McAuliffe Elementary School in Concord, New Hampshire, on Wednesday to engage students in person and on Zoom. (WBZ-TV)

“We’re excited to look at full in-person learning,” said principal Kris Gallo. She said whatever funds she receives will be earmarked for additional math programs and mental health counselors.

The visit was not only symbolic, but poignant, as the First Lady received the first commemorative coin honoring Christa McAuliffe, for whom the school is named and who is America’s first teacher in space.

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“She would insist all teachers see and accept the new coin for what it actually is, a tribute to them and an expression and gratitude for all they do,” said widower Steve McAuliffe, a U.S. District Court judge. He reflected on McAuliffe’s legacy 35 years after the space shuttle Challenger claimed her life and the lives of her six crewmates. “She really embraced the role of representing fellow classroom teachers. That’s what motivated her; that’s what she loved about that position, to do a good job, and I think she did.”

The first lady is focusing particularly on schools to promote the newly signed American Rescue Plan as she takes the tour nationwide, including battleground states like New Hampshire. For her family, highlighting the school named for Christa McAuliffe is a fitting honor.

“Occasions like this are special. They call for retelling the story, and this school is special, of course,” said Steve McAuliffe.

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For the first lady, it puts the focus on helping teachers, students and their families. “We’re going to safely reopen our schools; we are going to get people back to work; we are going to lift up the families struggling just to get by,” said Dr. Biden.

Beth Germano