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Quinta Brunson Has Surprise Reunion With Sixth Grade Teacher Who Inspired ‘Abbott Elementary’

Quinta Brunson Has Surprise Reunion With Sixth Grade Teacher Who Inspired ‘Abbott Elementary’

It was a tearjerker!

Quinta Brunson was reunited with her sixth-grade teacher who inspired Abbott Elementary, Philly Voice reports. 

Brunson has received rave reviews for her new comedy series, Abbott Elementary, a show about the challenging yet hilarious life of a group of Philadelphia public school teachers. Not only has the show already made history, becoming the first ABC comedy to quadruple its ratings since its initial airing, Brunson was also recently honored by the Philadelphia City Council for her work

The comedian said she drew inspiration from her mom, a 40-year Philadelphia school teacher who inspired Sheryl Lee Ralph’s character, and educators everywhere, initially naming the series after her own Philly elementary school, Mastery Charter Harrity Elementary. However, legal reasons prevented Brunson from following through with the initial name, the comedian choosing instead to name it after her own sixth grade teacher, Joyce Abbott. 

On a recent appearance this week on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” Brunson confirmed that the show was named after her own childhood teacher, saying she had spoken with her but hadn’t seen Ms. Abbott since she was a sixth-grade student. 

That’s when Kimmel surprised Brunson, Abbott appearing live on a screen as a shocked Brunson began to scream and cry. 


“Oh my gosh, I’m so proud of you,” Abbott exclaimed. 

The veteran educator then expressed how honored she was to have the show named after her, revealing that she learned about it while watching 6ABC news one night. She also reflected on Brunson’s time with her when she was a child. 

“Quinta was an awesome student. When she came into my class, she was really shy, timid. She grew out of her shell. She was really our class spokesperson. She’s amazing,” said Abbott. 

Brunson, who could not stop crying, was overwhelmed by the moment, Kimmel then shifted to ask Abbott about her retirement at the end of this school year after almost 30 years of teaching. Abbott confirmed that she would be leaving the profession, Kimmell then surprising her with a free, five-day vacation to celebrate her retirement, Brunson and Abbott both jumping for joy. 

Brunson said part of the show’s success is its relatability, and that comes from her focusing on the details of the story to make “Abbott Elementary” feel as much like Philly as possible. From the cameos of 6ABC anchor Jim Gardner to the Eagles paraphernalia around the school to the episode where Brunson’s character teaches her student a lesson using Philly slang word references, to it being named after a real Ms. Abbott, it is those details that resonate with viewers. 

“I just felt the more specific you go with the city, the better. I think the inclination is like, you know, you wanna just go maybe broader on network TV. But what I’ve learned from comedies is that the more specific you go, the more universal you go. So I thought if we could make the building as specifically dirty as a Philadelphia public school is and the teachers as specifically Philadelphian and the props and the references. There are references in there that are just for people from Philly that no one else is gonna get. But I feel like anyone can relate it to their own hometown,” explained Brunson. 

Abbott Elementary airs Tuesdays at 9pm on ABC. All episodes are available to stream on Hulu. 

Photo Courtesy of @JimmyKimmelLive/Twitter