Actress and director Quinta Brunson is helping teachers receive the tools they need to cultivate education in the classroom.
The Abbott Elementary star and creator recently sat down for an interview with NPR’s Fresh Air, where she revealed her production team’s pledge to donate some of the show’s marketing income to help real-life teachers. Abbott Elementary’s network home, ABC, also vowed to take part in the mission.
“We chose to put the marketing money toward supplies for teachers,” Brunson said. “It’s about being able to make those kinds of decisions that really excite me, things that can really materially help people.”
In the mockumentary-styled series, Brunson stars as the happy-go-lucky Janine Teagues, an optimistic second-grade teacher who has a mission to help the lives of her students. Based in a Philadelphia public school, Teagues and a group of dedicated teachers remain indomitable in their fight to put their student’s education first, even when underfunding and poor educational policies throw a wrench in their plans.
Brunson, 32, said she drew her inspiration for the show from real-life experience. The famous content creator shared that her mother worked at a public school that lacked the financial resources to help teachers, but growing up, she admired the way her mother continued to teach with passion and zeal.
“Despite it getting harder, despite teachers not having all the support they need, despite kids growing even more unruly than they’ve been in recent time … she still loved the job,” Brunson explained of her mother’s resilence. ”The beauty is someone being so resilient for a job that is so underpaid and so underappreciated because it makes them feel fulfilled.”
The Black Lady Sketch Show alum gushed about her 6th-grade teacher Ms. Abbott, who she says took her “under her wing” and helped her to see the world in a different way. Brunson, who named the show after the significant teacher, was also enamored by the way she “put her all” into educating students, even when a few naughty children presented challenges in class. The producer and comedian compared Ms. Abbott and her mother’s disciplinary styles and how punishment was never “really in their vocabulary.”
“I think they always have to look at it as a broader issue: Why is this child acting out? What is going on at home? What’s going on in their behavior pattern in this classroom?” said Brunson. “Because they get to know these students. For my mom, the child that misbehaved the most was kind of like her favorite student by the end of the year. She would have this weird relationship where she would come home and my family would know, OK, this is your problem child this year,” she continued. “But it’s also like your favorite child because you come home and talk about them every day. So it’s really about learning their behavior. And these are little people, you know? And so I’m not sure punishment was ever a part of the discussion for teachers like my mom and Ms. Abbott. It was solving the problem.”