Few recent sitcoms have resonated as profoundly as ABC’s Emmy-winning “Abbott Elementary.” The show centers on idealistic second grade teacher Janine Teagues, played by show creator Quinta Brunson, who does everything she can to help students at an underfunded, predominantly Black Philadelphia public school. 

In its second season (new episodes Wednesdays on ABC, Thursdays on Hulu), the comedy has struck a chord with many viewers, including real-life teachers who don’t often see their experiences accurately reflected in popular culture. 

Brunson, who was the second Black woman to win an Emmy for comedy writing, named the show after her own sixth grade teacher, Ms. Joyce Abbott. When asked to weigh in on “Abbott Elementary,” an array of Seattle-area teachers discussed how the show reflects their day-to-day working lives. Here’s what they said.

Excerpts have been edited for length.  

Price Jimerson, health and physical education teacher, West Seattle: “[‘Abbott Elementary’] brings a comedic relief to teaching, but it does show the disparities. The first week’s episode [of Season 2] they talked about disabilities and how the kindergarten teacher Barbara couldn’t find a table to fit for her student who uses a wheelchair. She was constantly on the phone with the district and getting the runaround until finally one of the other teachers just went and dug in a storage room and was like, ‘OK, this desk could work.’ I think about how there are some times when we don’t always meet the quota as districts for our students’ needs.

“I love all the characters, but I really like Gregory. He’s the new teacher on the block, as am I, and he’s still just trying to figure out his way. Sometimes he’s too stubborn to ask for help, which is something I know I fall into sometimes. He is a character I definitely love and appreciate. Then how he has Barbara and all the other characters, because I was able to have folks like that at my schools who are taking me under their wing and helping me along the way.


“Sometimes they underplay the disparities. They, of course, try to make it in a comedic light so people want to watch it, but sometimes some of those situations happen on a 10 times more [severe] scale. Think about why our school districts went on strike. A lot of people think it was because of money when the reality was it was because our students were not getting the services that they deserved in the proper manner. That is probably the only thing, but aside from that, Quinta and her crew are doing fantastic.”   

Chandra Moon, special education teacher, Dimmitt Middle School, Seattle: “I think it’s pretty legit in the fact that they found a way to make a comedic twist about real things that happen within the teaching world that people are not always open to accepting. They see it as teachers complaining again, but it’s real realities, and instead of it being fully put out as a negative complaint, they found a way to put comedy into the mix so people are more apt to have understanding and empathy.

“I think they do a great job of showing the dynamics of everything from privilege versus lower-income [students] not having those same things given to them. It’s a beautiful way of showing all that. Those are the true realities of what is happening in so many schools. Even having a sub teacher, you don’t always have that. The janitor even, that’s such a huge portion of every school and I think that’s not really shown in a lot of other factors. The janitor and the head office lady, the schools would implode without them. It’s an awesome show and they really do a good job of showing what is happening with so many different school districts.” 

Liz Ruiz-Puyana, consulting and K-8 teacher, Seattle Public Schools: “I was a little skeptical [about the show], of course, and thought maybe this will be funny. But I was really impressed. Right out the gate, I think ‘Abbott Elementary’ gets the tone of what it’s like and the feeling of what it’s like to be a teacher pretty right. I definitely feel seen. There are some episodes that it’s really hard for me to get through without crying, or tearing up at least, because I’ve been in that situation. 

“There is a moment in the first season where there is a conversation between the characters where they say, ‘Well, if you quit, who is going to be here for the kids?’ I don’t know how many times I’ve had that conversation. [We’ve all had] some version of that conversation with yourself, with your partner, with each other. ‘If we’re not here, who will be?’ That’s why we stay because I can’t bear the thought of not showing up for these kids. They get that right. 

“A lot of the issues that they bring up in the show are very real, especially in this first episode of Season 2. They hit on so many things. The fact that private schools have taken a bunch of the students who can go there, shrinking enrollment, [creating] less funding, can’t hire teachers, overloaded classes, that is happening now in SPS [Seattle Public Schools]. It’s not just here, obviously, it’s a national problem because this is a national show. Things like trying so hard to get through the system to get a special desk for a student that needs it and it taking weeks to get through all the paperwork. And really, the solution is it’s in the backroom that people forgot about. Things like that are happening to us right now.”   

Allie Holler, first grade teacher, Rachel Carson Elementary, Sammamish: “My general initial impression of [“Abbott Elementary”] was that, finally, there was a show that teachers could just laugh at because we live those things every day. It is a representation of our lives. The things they get right are just the chaos of the day to day. All the planning that everyone is doing and the social interactions throughout the school with your colleagues. Some things that they get wrong is, obviously, they didn’t fully include all the components of being in a school, like special education. There are so many pullouts that happen and kids just coming and going out of your classroom that they don’t really showcase.” 


Celina Ryan, K-5 teacher, John Muir Elementary, Kirkland: “All of the teachers I’ve interacted with remind me of Janine. They’re here for students. You do what it takes and think about the rest later. The moments where she was looking in the classroom and seeing her student sleeping on the rug and why getting a new rug was so important to her, I’ve definitely been there. 

“The burnout is definitely there. Teachers have been going through a lot and I feel like we haven’t even fully seen the repercussions and aftermath of children growing up in the pandemic. Every day is something new, but it’s definitely a multifaceted position that takes a toll. Taking time to make sure you’re OK is really important.”

Shar Luck, first grade teacher, Rachel Carson Elementary, Sammamish: “Watching the show where they were also having a lot of stressful moments was triggering so I couldn’t watch it until recently. I already finished four episodes and I love it so much. It got me hooked, but I think I needed that space because there was so much trauma right when the show came out during the beginning. Any kind of teacher stress, even if it was on television, was too much. Now I really love it.

“At the heart of the matter is the kids, and I think that’s what the show is. Even though the colleagues are different, there is a rapport and respect. That’s the part that brings me back. If I didn’t have my colleagues, I don’t know what I would do. I couldn’t have lasted this long in the job without the relationships among the staff.

“For years, ever since I started teaching, I’ve said there needs to be a show about teachers. We hold ourselves together and sometimes we just need to let it out in the staff lounge when we’re having lunch. Those are probably the most funny conversations that I’ve ever heard in my life. You never laugh so hard than when you’re with a bunch of teachers sharing stories. That’s another relationship to ‘Abbott Elementary’ because there is always a story. We actually have a lot of fun sharing the stories because they’re really fun, especially in primary. You don’t believe some of the things you have to say or what the kids say. Our lives are entertaining and so is the show.”

“Abbott Elementary”

New episodes air Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on ABC and the following day on Hulu.