'Abbott Elementary' debuts on 6abc with nods to West Philadelphia

While the show is comical, it also teaches some tough lessons about the state of education.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Debuting on 6abc is 'Abbott Elementary,' a brand new comedy that's set locally in a Philadelphia public school.

It's the brainchild of a West Philadelphia native who created the show and stars in it too.

Quinta Brunson says she's a product of the Philadelphia public school system, where her mother taught for four decades.

While the show is comical, it also teaches some tough lessons about the state of education.

While she is shooting in Los Angeles, Quinta is making sure it's as close to home as possible.

"I got to have so much Philadelphia in LA, like the backdrops that looked like 56th and Christian (streets)," Brunson said.

From local sports teams to the local news, Quinta included her favorite Philadelphia anchor.

"We have Jim Gardner in the show," Brunson said. "Please watch. He's fantastic. It was so sweet. I almost passed out. I was star-struck."

Quinta's mom, Norma, was a Philadelphia public school teacher for more than 40 years.

"I was in her kindergarten class, and after school, I would go to her classroom because she taught at the same elementary school I went to," Brunson added. "I was with her so much, and I would see what it really took to be a teacher."

The character of Barbara Howard is a nod to Norma. It's played by actress Sheryl Lee Ralph, the wife of Pennsylvania Senator Vincent Hughes.

"I come from a family of teachers," Ralph said. "Do you know what kind of a heart it takes to be a teacher to mold little minds? It's an amazing thing."

Of course, the name of the school has a local meaning.

"My 6th-grade teacher was Miss Abbott, and she was a fantastic teacher in my life," Brunson said. "I made the first name of the school Willard because that's Will Smith's real name, and I just thought it would be funny to name it 'Willard Abbott Elementary.' A little nod to West Philadelphia."
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