Jill Biden and Princess Kate take a visit to Connor Downs Academy to meet with students, teachers, and education experts on June 11, 2021.

On Friday, Jill Biden and the Duchess of Cambridge visited Connor Downs Academy in Hayle, Cornwall, today to tour a classroom and hold a round table on early education. The two met with about 30 four to five-year-olds in the classroom, where they also saw how the children care for animals. 

The Head of the School, Janice Eddy stated before the meeting with the two, “We are very much about supporting the children not only in terms of that academic attainment and their progress but we’re also very, very focused on supporting children as individuals, and in supporting their positive relationships with one another with adults with society and also supporting their mental health.” 

Eddy also ensured that the students are very much aware of who the First Lady is, due to the recent curriculum about the White House. 

The First Lady and Duchess met with teachers and learned about how the kids were learning about how to make the world a better place. The two also sat down and talked with about 20 kids in the classroom. 

“It’s very important to the foundation. As a teacher at the upper levels if they don’t have a good foundation they fall so far behind. This is amazing to see how far advanced they are,” stated Dr. Biden. 

Later, the First Lady and the Duchess went outside to see the bunnies. Dr. Biden carried a bowl of carrots. Both the women commented on the large size of the bunny, named Storm. 

Dave Masters, the teacher, and four kids were in the rabbit pen with the First Lady and the Duchess standing on the other side of the fence. Dr. Biden handed over the bowl of carrots so the kids could feed Storm. 

Masters stated that the kids care for the bunnies ‘every morning.’

The First Lady and The Duchess of Cambridge then participated in a roundtable with four U.K. early childhood experts who were invited by The Duchess of Cambridge. Three U.S. subject matter experts also joined the roundtable discussion. 

U.K experts, Professor Eamon McCrory, Professor of Developmental Neuroscience and Psychopathology of University College London, Dr. Trudi Seneviratne, Registrar, Royal College of Psychiatrists, Adult and Perinatal Psychiatrist & Clinical Director, SLaM,  Ed Vainker, CEO of Reach Foundation, Co-founder of Reach Academy Feltham and Reach Hub, and Owen Thomas, Head of Programmes at Future Men, were all in attendance at the roundtable. 

U.S. experts, Miriam Calderon, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Early Learning, U.S. Department of Education, Miranda Lynch-Smith, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Human Services Policy in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Katie Hamm, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Early Childhood Development, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, were in attendance as well via zoom. 

“I met some wonderful teachers and principals and most of all the children who were so inspiring are so well behaved. I couldn’t get over it,” said Jill at the roundtable. 

The roundtable discussion was centered around children’s mental health and the importance of early education in child development. There was also a discussion about how to get parents involved early on. 

“The importance of providing adequate support for parents and children alike during early childhood, and the positive impact that this can have across society, is something which Her Royal Highness and The First Lady have both gained an understanding of through their respective work,” stated in a Kensington Palace press release. 

For over ten years, the Duchess of Cambridge has seen first-hand how poor mental health and addiction, to family breakdown and homelessness, can be traced back to the earliest years of life. In that time, she has worked with experts and spent time listening to the sector, parents, families, and carers about their experience of and work in the early years.

Next week, The Duchess will step up her work in this area, with a major announcement outlining how she will elevate the importance of early childhood and continue the conversation on this vital issue. 

Dr. Biden, an English professor, and former high school teacher, and reading specialist, has witnessed the struggle of students who lacked a solid foundation of early childhood care and education. She and President Biden are both committed to increasing opportunities for all children and young people to grow, learn, and gain the skills they need to succeed.

After the roundtable, two students with flowers and Janice Eddy said goodbye to the First Lady and the Duchess. 

Jaala Brown

Jaala Brown is Gen Z Voice at The Pavlovic Today.