“Abbott Elementary” Tackles Real Issues in Education

The television show “Abbott Elementary” raised a buzz among teachers for its realistic depictions of an elementary school. Set in Philadelphia, “Abbott Elementary” is a workplace comedy that features a group of teachers as the hardworking, funny and flawed professionals that they are. 

AdoptAClassroom.org is a national nonprofit that’s been supporting teachers like those portrayed on “Abbott Elementary” since 1998. We were blown away by how the show reflects the reality of the state of education today.


Here are three things we find realistic about the portrayal of education on “Abbott Elementary:”

1. Teachers Spend Their Own Money On School Supplies

In episode seven of “Abbott Elementary,” veteran teacher Melissa Schemmenti, played by Lisa Ann Walters, purchases a set of hardcover Peter Rabbit books for her class to replace old copies that were falling apart. Melissa isn’t alone in needing books for her classroom; this past school year, seventy-three percent of teachers reported purchasing books for their students. 

At high-needs schools like the fictional Abbott Elementary, teachers are providing the most basic supplies, from books to pencils to a classroom rug where their young students can gather. According to our 2021 Teacher Spending Survey, teachers spend an average of $750 out-of-pocket on school supplies like these each year. Our Teacher Spending Survey was mentioned in another article about Abbott Elementary on NPR Marketplace. 

In another episode, the early education teachers are in need of new rugs. Melissa is a character that “has a guy for everything” and mysteriously finds new rugs for the elementary classrooms through a connection she has with the Philadelphia Eagles. Teachers like Melissa Schemmenti are resourceful, but they shouldn’t have to be just to get the basic items they need to educate and support their students. 

At AdoptAClassroom.org, we provide classroom funding for PreK-12 teachers at public, private, and charter schools throughout the U.S. We work to ensure teachers can get the classroom supplies they need, when they need them. 

To be eligible for funding opportunities on AdoptAClassroom.org, register your classroom

2. Teachers use crowdfunding to get supplies for their classrooms

In episode 3, “Wishlist,” Principal Ava Coleman (Janelle James), helps young teacher Janine Teagues (show creator Quinta Brunson), create a popular TikTok to fundraise for her classroom. While the TikTok in the show is exaggerated, it’s common for teachers to turn to social media to raise funds for their classroom needs. 

If you’re a teacher looking for advice on how to fundraise on social media, check out our tips. 

In that episode, Barbara Howard (Sheryl Lee Ralph) is wary about raising funds through social media. We know that social media fundraising isn’t accessible to everyone, and that many teachers don’t have a Principal Ava to help them make the ultimate viral video. 

When teachers register on AdoptAClassroom.org, they’re also eligible for our corporate sponsor matching programs, classroom grant applications, and teacher giveaways – no viral content required. 

3. Teacher Mentors Matter

More teachers are leaving education, and a pattern is emerging: long-time teachers are retiring early and teachers early in their careers are leaving within the first few years. 

This reality makes the relationship between the main character of “Abbott Elementary,” Janine, and Barbara, a well-respected Kindergarten teacher, even more poignant. Janine is a second grade teacher early in her career that worships Barbara. Barbara ultimately takes the younger teacher under her wing and lends an ear to Janine’s experiences working with a difficult student’s parent. 

If a school loses its experienced teachers, that loss affects teachers and students at every level. If Barbara would have retired early, Janine wouldn’t have had the mentorship that ultimately helps her find her voice. 

While education needs serious structural change, communities can lessen teacher stress right now by making donations through AdoptAClassroom.org. Ninety-three percent of teachers said that the number one way we can support teachers is with flexible funding through AdoptAClassroom.org. When teachers have the supplies they need, they can concentrate on teaching.  

Register on AdoptAClassroom.org!

While we have to wait at least another six months for a second season of “Abbott Elementary,” you don’t have to wait to get the funding you need for your classroom! Register to create your classroom page so you’re eligible for our funding opportunities.