Many talented educators pursue successful careers outside the profession of teaching. One example of this is Susan Dryden Whitson, a high school English teacher from Birmingham, Alabama, who also served as the press secretary to First Lady Laura Bush. “Mrs. Bush and I are both educators, so we share the common belief that education and literacy are the foundation of opportunity,” Susan once said. “Working for Mrs. Bush has afforded me the chance to talk about the issues important to her, but which are also important to me.”
Susan earned her bachelor’s degree in secondary education language arts from Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama, in 1991. As a young co-ed, she was a member of the War Eagle Girls and Plainsmen and the Student Government Association. After graduating from Auburn, Susan accepted a position in her native Birmingham to teach ninth and tenth grade English at Hoover High School. She was employed there for six years. While there, Susan was the ninth-grade English teacher to 2006 American Idol winner Taylor Hicks.
In 1997, at the end of a temporary summer appointment with then Representative Bob Riley, she was offered a position as his press secretary. She considered the offer “an opportunity too good to pass up.” In the eight years that followed, she served as a press secretary on Capitol Hill for numerous government officials, including two US representatives, a deputy director of the Office of Public Affairs at the US Department of Justice, a chief of the FBI’s National Press Office, and a deputy communications director for the Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign. She was appointed by Mrs. Bush as the First Lady’s press secretary in 2005, and worked in that capacity until 2007.
The former English teacher currently serves on the Auburn Campaign Committee for the Washington metro area. Susan and her husband, Keir Whitson, live in Rappahannock County, Virginia.
“I’ve held a lot of titles over the years,” Susan once declared, “but the one I am most proud of is teacher.”