A billionaire, a queen and an American first lady walked into a public charter school on Wednesday, collecting bouquets, examining owl pellets and hugging students amid the rapid-fire clicking of cameras.
The visit to Excel Academy, an all-girls charter school, by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Queen Rania of Jordan and Melania Trump, the first lady, was meant to emphasize the Trump administration’s stance on school choice. But it was also part of a day of photo ops intended to cast a softer lens on a presidential administration grappling with several international crises, and provide another glimpse of a first lady whose sporadic appearances in Washington have revealed relatively little about her own leadership style.
A meeting at the White House
Earlier in the day, Mrs. Trump and Queen Rania stood behind President Trump and King Abdullah II of Jordan at the White House. It was just one item on Wednesday’s agenda, which was also packed with a news conference to condemn a chemical attack in Syria and meetings to discuss brokering a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.
Next up: A visit to a school
The day’s visits offered the American public another look at Mrs. Trump, who has revealed relatively little about her approach to the role of first lady. As a woman who has been in the public eye for decades, Queen Rania might have provided a template of sorts for Mrs. Trump: She is an education activist and a member of Jordanian royalty, and her public presence is well-curated with bilingual updates on her trips to schools, family events and hospitals.
At the short listening session with students at Excel Academy, Queen Rania asked follow-up questions about the coursework and curriculum. Mrs. Trump stuck to the basics, asking the students for their names and grade levels, but later elaborated on the visit in a statement relayed by the White House.
“Education is critical to our efforts to shine a light on the topic of gender equality and empowerment of women,” Mrs. Trump said. “Hearing directly from teachers and the students who attend the school was an important step in the dialogue needed to further my agenda as first lady of the United States.”