By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Thursday, June 29, 2006
Jenna Bush , the nation's most famous public-school teacher, is skipping the country and bidding a happy adios to the young-Washington social scene she once ruled. Uh-oh, what do we do now?
Friends say that the blond, younger-by-minutes First Twin has been quietly making plans over recent months to leave D.C. for a teaching job in Latin America, most likely around the end of summer.
The move reflects the growing seriousness of a 24-year-old whose collegiate partying provided endless fun for gossip columnists during her father's first years in office -- yet also offers an escape from the Washington spotlight she and sister Barbara always have seemed to resent. Last week marked her final day at the Mount Pleasant charter school where she taught for a year and a half.
"First-year teaching is one of the most difficult jobs a person can have," said Linda Moore , head of the Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School, where Jenna and a fellow instructor oversaw a class of third-graders being taught in both English and Spanish. "She was a wonderful first-year teacher."
The White House, which maintains a strict no-comment policy on All Things Twin, would not elaborate on Jenna's plans or address questions about the cost of providing security for her overseas.
There seems to be little precedent, though, for the spawn of a sitting commander-in-chief to move abroad. Barbara spent at least several weeks doing low-profile volunteer work at a hospital in South Africa last summer, but had returned to the States by the fall. ( Chelsea Clinton 's sojourn at Oxford began several months after her parents left the White House.)
According to Carl Sferrazza Anthony , author of 11 books on first families, "you'd have to go back to a young girl who was really popular in her day: the daughter of Ulysses S. Grant ." Like the Bush twins, Nellie Grant was a social live wire who was a magnet for the paparazzi equivalent of the 1870s. She married a prominent Englishman in a splashy White House ceremony and moved across the pond with him -- but that was well before the Secret Service was assigned to guard presidential families.
Meanwhile, Jenna's departure will mark the end of an era for Washington, which now will be completely Twinless. After several months floating around town, Barbara bailed on D.C. just weeks ago, moving to Manhattan, where she recently landed a job in education programming at Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.
Then again, it's been a while since the twins truly cut loose in public. Underage drinking escapades at Stetson's? That was so first term. Two years ago, Jenna's mere appearance at a Georgetown watering hole was enough to put Smith Point on the map for the young preppy set. But her more recent outings, though slavishly chronicled in this column, have been far more subdued -- weekend dinners at nice restaurants, shopping trips and a Richmond 10K with "Sister."
Could be the early-morning hours of her teaching job, or the influence of longtime boyfriend Henry Hager , who just left his Commerce job to get an MBA at U-Va.'s Darden School. (They'll try to keep their love alive across the Americas.) Or it could just be, you know, growing up. She's slimmer than in her old party snaps, with a sleeker haircut. Friends paint a picture of Jenna as "normal," down-to-earth and approachably nice. While her dark-haired sister went east to Yale and is known to show up at beautiful-people galas, Jenna stayed close to home at the University of Texas. She has told friends she can't stand Washington and the who-do-you-work-for ? mentality of its ambitious young politico class.
"She has a disdain for that whole rat race," said one, "despite the fact that she's the person everyone would want to talk to."
Yesterday, neighbors spotted moving vans outside her home near Georgetown; it's believed she'll spend her final weeks in town crashing with the 'rents on Pennsylvania Avenue.FOREIGN AFFAIRS
It's a bird, it's a plane, it's . . . a power outage? The screen went dark during the trailers before "Superman Returns" at the 3:15 p.m. show yesterday at the Uptown in Cleveland Park, bumming out about 140 patrons, including Sunny Rai , here from London for a two-month internship. "This would not happen in London," he huffed to our colleague Jonathan Padget. Ah, but remember the recent episode of "Entourage," when rolling blackouts threatened opening-day box office for "Aquaman"? Life imitating HBO, complete with quippy banter: "I wish it had happened during 'Mission: Impossible III,' " said theater manager Isabel Ferreira . "I hate that movie."