Entertainment

Broken light, no glue: ‘Abbot Primary School’ has a talking teacher

In the second episode of “Abbot Elementary School,” a new ABC fantasy about a group of (mostly) devoted educators in a needy Philadelphia public school, a second-grade teacher named Janine is determined to fix a flickering ceiling light in the hallway the school has. ignored.

Janine, the bright-eyed protagonist (played by the show’s creator, is used to giving in,” Quinta Brunson), “But I’m young, nimble, and know where they keep the ladder.”

For Maurice Watkins, a 28-year-old music teacher in Maryland, Janine’s approach to being in charge is ridiculously familiar. Recently, he went to a discount store to buy rags and brooms to clean the classroom floors of the three public schools where he teaches. While traditional classrooms are cleaned regularly, the spaces where he teaches band and orchestra are not.

“As a teacher, you have to fix it yourself,” says Watkins, who works with 4th to 6th graders. “I go through one of those situations almost every day.”

(Fortunately, Watkins’ efforts at custodial duties didn’t go as flat as Janine did: After she adjusted a loose wire, much of the school’s electricity was cut off.)

Six episodes into, Brunson’s “Abbot Elementary School” quickly became a talker among teachers, who saw themselves and their peers reflected in the show’s protagonists, who who is constantly pushed to the bottom by administrative chaos, squalid resources, and student antics. . On social media, some viewers extrusion distance related The program is for them.

So far, ratings are still strong, with a total of more than 7 million viewers across all platforms in the first month or so after it premiered. according to ABC. (There’s also Hollywood buzz: On Jimmy Kimmel’s late-night show, The owner brought it home Joyce Abbott, Brunson’s sixth-grade teacher whom she named the show, brought the actress to tears.)

Teachers say they recognize the fictional school’s staff in their own halls: a young teacher too new to be cynical, a self-serving principal, a stubborn veteran teacher, obstinate in ways of her and a self-centered white teacher who tries to appear progressive around her Black students and colleagues.

Watkins said that the day after the first episode of “Abbot Elementary” aired in December, “every teacher at the school was talking about it.” However, for some, it worked too near the house.

“Some of the teachers I know can’t even watch it,” says Watkins.

The teachers said they clearly identified the challenges Janine and her colleagues face on a daily basis: ongoing lack of funding, student behavior problems, and difficulty introducing new materials. New educational technology.

“T — all of the above,” said Alisha Gripp, principal of a charter high school in Kansas City, Mo. One aspect of the show that she staunchly doesn’t define, however, is the school’s incompetent principal, Ava Coleman (played by Janelle James), who spends her time trimming her pet Chia and sort student files by who has the hottest dad.

“I think she’s funny – but I’m not like her,” Gripp said with a laugh.

Gripp, who has been an educator for 17 years, said she thinks “Abbot Elementary School” is a more realistic depiction of teaching than those found in many other Hollywood films, including “Boston Public,” a Fox television series by David E. Kelley. That show tended to lean toward the fictional high school horror genre where it was set, leading Gripp to think to himself, “They’re going to get fired; they will be fired; that child will be suspended. “

“It would be really nice to have a more practical but still entertaining educational program,” she added.

According to the show’s two executive producers, Justin Halpern and Patrick Schumacker, much of the show’s foundation comes from Brunson’s mother, who was a public school teacher in Philadelphia for 40 years. The producers and screenwriters also interviewed teachers, school staff and board members about their work.

Many of the plot points come from real-life educators, including the main part of an episode in which Janine became hugely successful using TikTok to get people to donate school supplies. It’s both funny and funny because she has to resort to social media to find basic materials like scissors and glue.

The TikTok episode reminds Kristina A. Holzweiss, a 52-year-old former teacher and librarian who is now an education-technology specialist at a Long Island high school, to a few years ago when she was independent. raised over $100,000 to get rich. materials like a Chromebook and a 3-D printer for her library. This predates the success of TikTok, but teachers can use a website called DonorsChoose, which helps them crowdfund their classrooms.

“Teachers shouldn’t have to do this; “This is not in our job description, but teachers always put their students first,” says Holzweiss.

For some, a performance highlighting hard-working, dedicated educators is especially welcome right now. As schools around the country reopen after a prolonged pandemic shutdown, teachers are put at the center of the battle for masking duties and in-person versus distance learning.

Teaching difficulties during the pandemic – as well as longstanding issues around low pay, benefits and irregular hours – have contributed to nationwide labor shortage at schools, which have struggled to find replacements for teachers who are sick and teachers who are out of work.

“When the pandemic hits and everything is over, teachers are heroes,” said Jennifer Dinh, 31, a second-grade teacher in Chino Hills, California. door.”

“Abbot Primary School” tackles teacher burnout from the very beginning, showing a young teacher walking out of the building carrying a box of her belongings and raising her finger of choice on her way out. (“More sales than a bakery,” quips Barbara Howard, played by Sheryl Lee Ralph, who has taught in the district for 20 years.)

The show’s theme is the clash between newer, younger teachers like Janine, who are learning from the physical and emotional trauma of trying to fix a dysfunctional school, and teachers more experienced staff, who have learned to accept certain things – a blinking light, for example – so that they avoid burnout.

“If we’re exhausted, who’s here for these kids?” ask Melissa Schemmenti (played by Lisa Ann Walter), a straight-talking Sicilian American second-grade teacher.

After more than three decades of teaching, Jocelyn Hitchcock, a 57-year-old fan of the show, is determined not to burn herself out. After 20 years as a music teacher, she felt frustrated that the funding for the arts was dwindling and turned to core subjects. This past fall, Hitchcock began teaching at a small elementary school on the Walker River Paiute reserve in Nevada.

Her school recently addressed a severe teacher shortage (the principal has to teach in class), and she now spends her time before and after school tutoring children to help them catch up with the shortage. learning caused by the pandemic.

In “Abbott Elementary,” she says, she finds authenticity in seeing people on TV going through what she goes through every day.

But because the show is set in a pandemic-free world (at least for now), Holzweiss said she thinks the show is missing an exploration of the biggest challenges facing teachers. present: mixed teaching, understaffed and students lagging behind academically and socially.

“It’s a whole different world now,” she said.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/03/arts/television/abbott-elementary-quinta-brunson.html Broken light, no glue: ‘Abbot Primary School’ has a talking teacher

Fry Electronics Team

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