Former First Lady Michelle Obama on Friday lambasted what she saw as a surplus of "bad behavior" currently being "modeled in public life" that makes the job of educators more difficult.
Obama delivered the keynote address at the School Counselor of the Year celebration hosted at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., the Hill reported. The celebration is part of the Reach Higher initiative, which Obama started while in the White House to "to inspire every student in America to take charge of their future by completing their education past high school." The former first lady had addressed the celebration annually while her husband was in office.
"Trust me, I know this work isn't easy. Especially right now," Obama said. "I know there's a lot of anxiety out there. And there's no denying our kids, what they see on TV, the kind of behavior being modeled in public life, that, yes impacts their behavior and their character."
"But at times like this, the work that you all are doing is even more urgent. Even more critically important. You all have the power to teach kids what it means to go high when others go low," Obama said.
The speech comes on the heels of the former first lady's re-emergence to public life. On Thursday, Obama sat down with Ellen Degeneres for her first television interview since her husband left office in January of 2017. The conversation quickly turned political with Degeneres relaying her fears about the country's current political environment.
"I personally feel frightened. I feel like the world is a scary place right now ... What is your take on what's happening?" Degeneres asked.
"Yeah, people are afraid. But then there are people who feel good about the direction of the country. So that's what makes this country complicated, because it's made up of so many different people from different backgrounds," Obama responded.
Later in the interview, Obama took a swipe at President Donald Trump, without ever mentioning his name, for what she saw as a willingness to lead through "fear."
"But the thing that we have to remember, the thing that I learned in the eight years that I was in the White House, was that what we do every day in our lives, the good things that we do every day, and we know we do it--we show empathy. We care for each other. We do have a lot in common," Obama said. "That's what it means to lead with hope and not fear."
"We have to be an open-hearted nation and that's who we are," she added. "So let's just keep living our lives like that every single and forget what they're saying in Washington."
The recent events were not the first where Obama appeared to take a not-so-subtle jab at the president. She similarly appeared to do so while speaking at a Economics of Equality: Advancing Women and Girls to Change the World event in November. During a fireside chat, the former first lady appeared to criticize Trump's twitter habits, saying its "never a good thing to say the first thing that comes to your mind."
Watch Michelle Obama on the "Ellen DeGeneres Show":