March 10, 2022
Quinta Brunson is giving back to her Southwest Philadelphia elementary school as part of an effort by "Abbott Elementary" to support students and teachers.
Mastery Charter Harrity Elementary is one of seven underfunded schools selected by ABC and Scholastic to host a free book fair next week, Variety reported. Each student will receive two free books; each teacher will be given 10 books.
The seven schools tapped to receive free books are Title 1 institutions. These schools receive federal funding, in addition to state and local grants, to support students from low-income families, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
The other participating elementary schools are located in Erie, Pennsylvania; Chicago, Illinois; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Flint, Michigan; and Los Angeles, California. But the first book fair will take place at Brunson's alma mater, the West Philly native wrote on Twitter.
"Abbott Elementary" and ABC decided to redirect marketing dollars toward giving back to teachers and schools, Brunson told Terry Gross during an interview on NPR's "Fresh Air" in February.
"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."
ABC and "Abbott Elementary" started a Traveling Teacher's Lounge to provide students and teachers across the country with books from Scholastic, classroom supplies and breakfast.
The initiative's first round of donations included thousands of books, notebooks, arts and crafts materials and writing utensils to schools in Philly, New Jersey, New York and Maryland. The effort is continuing this month with donations to schools in Dallas and Houston, Texas; Santa Fe, New Mexico; Phoenix, Arizona; Reno, Nevada; and Los Angeles, California.
Last month, Brunson surprised third grade teacher Xiomara Robinson and her students at Benjamin B. Comegys Elementary School in Kingsessing with $20,000 in new books from Scholastic and school supplies from Staples. The school also received a $40,000 check from Wells Fargo and a new hallway painting from Mural Arts.
"Abbott Elementary" follows a group of teachers and staff at a fictional Philly public school who are tasked with educating their students while navigating the challenges of working in an underfunded district. Brunson plays a glass-half-full second grade teacher named Janine Teagues.
The mockumentary series was originally planned to be named after Harrity Elementary, but legal reasons prevented it from happening. Instead, the show's name comes from Brunson's sixth grade teacher, Joyce Abbott.
The sitcom is based loosely upon the experiences of Brunson's mother, who taught for 40 years in the School District of Philadelphia. Kindergarten teacher Barbara Howard, played by Sheryl Lee Ralph, is based upon Brunson's mom.
"Abbott Elementary" is full of Philly cultural references. 6ABC anchor Jim Gardner made a cameo delivering a newscast, Eagles carpets and banners are on display throughout the school and an episode showed Brunson's character teaching her students how to use Philly slang words in their everyday lives.
The sitcom debuted in December to widespread critical and audience acclaim. The series became ABC's first comedy to quadruple its initial ratings after the pilot episode aired. The show's second episode was ABC's highest-rated comedy telecast since the "Modern Family" series finale aired in April 2020.
Philadelphia City Council passed a resolution in January celebrating Brunson for creating "Abbott Elementary." The resolution applauded the show for embodying "Philadelphia spirit" and showing "the heart and grit of our city."
"Abbott Elementary" is on a brief hiatus and will return with new episodes on Tuesday, March 22 at 9 p.m. All episodes are available to stream on Hulu.