Jimmy Kimmel Reunites 'Abbott Elementary' Star Quinta Brunson With Teacher She Named the Comedy After

The creator of ABC's hit new comedy was reunited with the 6th-grade teacher that she named the show after on 'Jimmy Kimmel Live.'

Quinta Brunson has brought immense joy to viewers with her new ABC comedy, Abbott Elementary, and now she's getting a bit of that joy back. The creator and star of the hit series made an appearance on Tuesday's Jimmy Kimmel Live, where she was surprised with a virtual visit from the teacher who inspired her show's title, Ms. Abbott.

Brunson explained to Kimmel that she tried to inject as much Philadelphia authenticity into the show as possible, but all viewers can relate to much of the experiences onscreen. Including having that sole teacher that changes your school experience.

"The last time I saw Ms. Abbott was probably sixth grade," Brunson told Kimmel just before her former teacher appeared virtually onscreen.

"I'm so proud of you," Ms. Abbott joyfully told her former student as Brunson admitted she was about to cry. 

The real-life teacher recalled the moment she found out that the show's fictional school and title had been named after her, sharing that she had been watching the news when they revealed Brunson's inspiration.

"It was confirmed one night when I was watching 6abc news," Ms. Abbott said. "They were talking about the Abbott Elementary show shortly after the pilot. The newscaster said, 'Ms. Abbott, if you're watching, Quinta would like to reconnect with you.' I was like 'Oh my god!'"

The teacher also shared stories of having Brunson as a pupil, saying she was "very driven at that time" and that the Black Lady Sketch Show alum grew out of her shell to become "our class spokesperson." When Ms. Abbott revealed she was ready for retirement after almost 30 years of teaching, Kimmel pulled out another surprise, giving the teacher a free, five-day vacation to celebrate her retirement.

Brunson summed up the experience of reuniting with her favorite teacher in a concise tweet, simply writing, "I cried."

Much like her character, Brunson -- who is the daughter of a kindergarten teacher -- grew up in the West Philadelphia school system. In an interview with The Los Angeles Times, Brunson explained how Ms. Abbott's teaching style stuck with her well beyond sixth grade.

"Ms. Abbott has always stuck with me throughout my life," Brunson said. "In a way, I didn't know why she was my favorite. I couldn’t put my finger on it. She just was. I think that’s what a good teacher does. I think it’s like the Maya Angelou quote, 'People always remember how you make them feel,' and she always made me feel good. I was in the same building as her, and when I got out and went to middle school, I was a little scaredy-cat. I didn’t want to leave my mom, and [Ms. Abbott] helped transition me out of it."

Her exceptional learning experience inspired Brunson to create Abbott Elementary and show how important teachers are to communities, but also highlight the insufficient funding given to schools with predominantly Black and brown students.

“My goal with the show is to make people laugh, but I do hope that it gets people thinking,” Brunson said. “And [that] it puts a little bit of pressure on the people who need to be pressured a little.”

Brunson's co-star, Lisa Ann Walter, shared similar sentiments while speaking with ET last month, noting that the series is "pointing out the fact that there is sometimes a big difference in public schools in certain areas and what kind of funding they get without hammering it [like] an ABC afterschool special -- although I love them."

"We are showing you the world people live in. There isn't anybody in the country that hasn't gone to school, has that favorite teacher and sees a struggle. Or they got kids themselves in school right now and they see what's going on," she added. "So for us to have this show at this time, celebrating teachers and saying, 'You are not perfect but you are fully fleshed out human beings that have your faults and we support you and love you,' and [for them] to have the representation. I am just so grateful to ABC, which supported Quinta and her knowledge in this area. From the beginning they were like, 'You know this world, your mother is a teacher in Philly and you go do it,' and they supported it. And so did Warner Brothers, so, we have a lot of support. We are very grateful and the country is responding."

Abbott Elementary airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on ABC. Watch episodes on Hulu the day following their premieres.


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