‘Abbott Elementary’: A morale boost for public education

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Few professions seamlessly weave celebrity and community together the way teaching does. That is part of the charm of “Abbott Elementary”: Even as the sitcom receives numerous awards for its relevant writing and performances, it still retains a refreshing humility.

That down-to-earth spirit reminds me of my personal Abbott – North Aiken Elementary School in Aiken, South Carolina. I remember the assemblage of talent that would shape my life and the lives of my friends forever. 

Why We Wrote This

Television shows are, by nature, feats of celebrity. But our commentator finds humility and heroism center stage in the award-winning sitcom “Abbott Elementary.”

But “Abbott Elementary,” which has its Season Two premiere tonight, isn’t nostalgic. It’s rooted in the present, where teacher shortages, gun violence, and educational inequities are further squeezing an already strained system. 

Yet “Abbott” offers a safe space, not only for imagining how to overcome adversity in education, but also for rethinking the balance between entertainment and empowerment.

My grade school was “underfunded” like Abbott, but it never seemed that way, because my mom, a teacher, and her colleagues made it feel like home for us.

Public education needs a morale boost, and if the high jinks and hope of Hollywood teachers can provide a moment of relief, that is a win. If we can make role models out of athletes, why not make heroes out of our teachers again?

Few professions seamlessly weave celebrity and community together the way teaching does. That is part of the charm of “Abbott Elementary,” which debuts its Season Two tonight. Even as the sitcom receives numerous awards for its relevant writing and performances, it still retains a refreshing humility. 

That down-to-earth spirit reminds me of my personal Abbott – North Aiken Elementary School in Aiken, South Carolina. Even though the brick building where I attended grade school was razed years ago to make room for expansion of the nearby high school, I can still see the “home of the Bears” vividly. I remember the 30-minute rides to school, the kickball field, and the merry-go-round that might fly into space if not for a rickety pole keeping it grounded.

I remember the assemblage of talent that would shape my life and the lives of my friends forever. I was a teacher’s kid, so I knew the secret – teachers could do anything. I hosted a school talent show when I was in third grade, and one of the acts was my mom. She did an amazing cover of Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing,” which I remember well, because I was so self-conscious about being a teacher’s kid that I didn’t introduce her as my mom.

Why We Wrote This

Television shows are, by nature, feats of celebrity. But our commentator finds humility and heroism center stage in the award-winning sitcom “Abbott Elementary.”

Whereas my favorite subjects are math and history, the strength in “Abbott” is its chemistry – not just with its cast, but with the ability to incorporate grace and glamour into inglorious circumstances.

The cast is truly lovable, from showrunner, creative genius, and star Quinta Brunson to Tyler James Williams of “Everybody Hates Chris” fame, and comedian Janelle James, among others. Their off-screen synergy might match their on-screen timing as they accompany one another to various awards shows, rooting for one another as if they are up for education’s coveted “teacher of the year” recognition.





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