Higher salaries for teachers was on the mind of Quinta Brunson when she took the stage at the TIME100 Gala on June 8th at Lincoln Center's Frederick P. Rose Hall.
Brunson appears on the 2022 TIME100 list of the world’s most influential people for her work as a writer, producer, comedian, actor, and creator of the ABC show Abbott Elementary. Her series is about the faculty and teachers at a Philadelphia public school and uses humor to draw attention to the underfunding of schools.
“I play a teacher on TV, but every day I wonder if I’d be strong enough to be one in real life,” Brunson said while toasting teachers, reports TIME. “You all deserve to be paid more!”
She also highlighted the influence teachers have on their students and the many roles they have to take on beyond being educators.
“Your job is vital, immense and crucial. As we say in my show, Abbott Elementary, many of you are not only teachers but social workers, second parents and sometimes first,” Brunson said. “You’re incredible.”
Brunson also brought attention to another huge influence on the American education system, the "big babies" who are too old for elementary school but have a negative impact inside the classroom and make the lives of teachers harder. “And I’m not talking about their students. I’m talking about politicians,” Brunson said to a laughing audience.
Her toast took a personal turn when Brunson thanked her middle school teacher Ms. Abbott, who inspired the name and spirit of Abbott Elementary, and her mother Norma Jean Brunson, who is a kindergarten teacher, for their positive impact on her life. Brunson once again called for higher salaries for teachers to conclude her toast to them, saying, "May you one day make more money than me.”
Watch the TIME100: The World’s Most Influential People, a special television event bringing viewers inside the exclusive TIME100 Gala for the first time, on June 12th at 8 p.m. EDT on ABC.