A few different things; one is that my mom is a teacher, and this show was largely inspired by me watching her my whole life. It was just a world that I knew so well, like the back of my hand, and I already had countless stories ready to go. It’s one thing to be a student in school, but me having this real in-depth experience with my mom being a teacher for most of my life really helped me see the world. I hadn’t really seen a school show from a teacher’s perspective—there were some back in the day, like Boy Meets World, but most modern TV about school is from the perspective of the students, from Euphoria to Never Have I Ever. A lot of the experience of teaching and being in a school had been heavily stereotyped, which isn’t a bad thing in comedy; I know we always use that word as a bad thing, but stereotypes can also provide room for comedy. Still, I wanted to create more fleshed-out archetypes of what teachers do that were very based in reality, so I really saw an opportunity to create something that I felt was missing.
My favorite part of school was always my art classes. I was fortunate enough to go to a school where my fifth-grade teachers really put a spotlight on artists, and specifically Black artists, so I learned about Henry Ossawa Tanner at a very young age. I loved going to the art museum with my class. I went to a high school that specialized in art and design, and I had a teacher there who was Mexican and exposed us to a lot of Mexican artists, so learning about Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera in ninth grade really fed my soul and complemented all my other classes.
From the beginning of the show’s creation, we talked about wanting to be able to do something that involved giving back to teachers and schools, and as production went on, we just kept the conversation alive. When it was time for the show to start to air back in December, the marketing team brought about this idea of doing this mobile bus that would take around supplies and be a sort of “moving teachers’ lounge.” I really loved that, because it was both giving teachers supplies and also giving them a place to rest. That kind of evolved into a partnership with Scholastic, because Scholastic helped with that initial bus run and has been such a great partner in trying to find direct ways to help out parents, teachers, and students. We had a premiere viewing for about 200 or 300 teachers in L.A., and that was a fun way to experience it; you know, watching the show and having snacks and hors d’oeuvres. The marketing team has been so instrumental in creating great ways to enhance teachers’ lives.
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