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Hit TV show Abbott Elementary has put a spotlight on Philadelphia schools and its teachers.
As it approaches its third season, the show made a special stop in Philly during its “Lunch Break with Abbott Elementary National Tour” on Friday.
The tour consists of the show making stops at schools across the country, including Atlanta, Dallas and right here in Philly, where the show’s creator Quinta Brunson grew up.
More than a thousand teachers are expected to receive free classroom supplies and snacks across the U.S. thanks to the tour.
Teachers at James R. Ludlow School in Philly were surprised when the huge “Abbott Elementary” themed lunchbox vehicle pulled into their school parking lot.
Second grade teacher Rebecca Kalbach was one of the first teachers to see the display and described what it was like seeing the gifts set up outside: “To come out and see that they did this for teachers, we were all like ahhhh so excited!”
School supplies may seem like a small part of the classroom, but for students who don’t have them, Kalbach says it can take a toll on their mental state.
“In some Title I schools, the children can’t afford their supplies. Sometimes some kids will get teased, oh you don’t have your school supplies, so we like to have them all ready for them,” said Kalbach.
“We want the kids to feel good and we want them to feel loved,” said Kalbach.
According to Office Depot’s 3rd annual Back-to-School survey, 1,000 teachers say they expect to spend $320 of their own money on school supplies for the 2023-2024 school year.
Adoptaclassroom.org reports much higher numbers. Their research finds the average teacher spends $860 out of pocket.
Carin Bennicoff teaches fourth and fifth grade at Ludlow and says she personally has spent thousands on her classroom and students.
“Closer to even $10,000. I buy stuff for the kids, food, supplies, clothing, anything they need. And there still are lots of needy kids,” said Bennicoff.
When asked about tax credits, she expressed frustration, saying, “We get $250 a year to be able to claim taxes. I don’t even file receipts. I spend that in a day sometimes.”
On Friday, teachers were given tote bags filled with an electric pencil sharpener, markers for the white board, folders, clips and other teacher supplies to help make the day-to-day in the classroom easier.
“It’s so exciting to be appreciated and that they came out to show the love for teachers,” says Kalbach.
And it’s their love for the classroom that keeps these teachers going.
Khary Moody, principal at Ludlow, expressed his appreciation for his staff and says he is grateful the show chose his school for their stop.
“It’s the fact that our teachers are getting recognized, because they do a tremendous job working with our youth,” he said.
“I don’t think they get enough credit for their resiliency, to continue to come here regardless of the challenges, they step up to the plate,” Moody added.
The tour also made other stops in Philly, surprising teachers at Gloria Casarez Elementary School and Frances Willard School. In all, 120 teachers within the district received tote bags with gift bags and “Abbott Elementary” themed lunch boxes.
Ebonie Thorpe is from Philadelphia and is a byproduct of the school district. She says she teaches to give back but expressed that it’s not always easy.
“The reality of it is our students definitely struggle and they come to school with trauma every day,” she said.
But Thorpe, who has been teaching for the past 19 years, says there is hope, and it’s her love for her students and success stories like Brunson that keep her and the other teachers going.
“We put so much hard work and our passion into our teaching and making sure our students grow up to be successful adults and Quinta Brunson is the epitome of what we want the School District of Philadelphia students to be,” Thorpe said.
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