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10 Best Quotes From Barbara On Abbott Elementary – TheFantasyTimes

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By Jitin Gambhir

10 Best Quotes From Barbara On Abbott Elementary



Barbara Howard, the fictional kindergarten school teacher in the workplace comedy series Abbott Elementary, is the heart and soul of the show. Her experience as a veteran educator of 20 years at the Philadelphia school has earned her respect from faculty, staff, and students. Barbara has always been there for her best friend and co-worker, Melissa, and has provided guidance to younger teachers like Janine, Gregory, and Jacob. She has gone out of her way to care for her students and has even helped steer the immature principal, Ava, in the right direction, albeit reluctantly.

In nearly every episode, Barbara shares her old-school wisdom and teaching insights with the other teachers and the camera crew documenting life at Abbott. Despite being revered at the school, Barbara has been teased for her age and being out of touch with pop culture. However, seasoned actor Sheryl Lee Ralph, who plays Barbara on the small screen, has won numerous awards for her portrayal, and these are the 10 best quotes that have made Barbara one of the most likable characters on Abbott Elementary.

Barbara’s mentoring relationship with Janine has been a focal point of the series, with Barbara acting like Janine’s real mom. When Janine became distraught over the challenges of being a teacher, Barbara encouraged her by saying, “Janine, teachers at a school like Abbott, we have to be able to do it all. We are admin. We are social workers. We are therapists. We are second parents. Hell, sometimes, we’re even first. Why? Huh, it sure ain’t the money.” Her experience gave Janine the encouragement she needed to keep caring and fighting for her students’ needs.

Barbara has not been the type of person who suffers fools lightly. Her zodiac sign is Gemini, and she has often expressed her indignation over someone’s foolishness with a raised eyebrow and a quip. When Jacob wondered if Barbara’s repeated efforts to get a school grant were the definition of insanity, an offended Barbara responded, “Have you ever heard the saying that I will pop you upside your head if you imply that I am insane?” The quote is indicative of how Barbara stands up for herself without holding any grudges.

In the same episode, Jacob and Janine complained about how music class occasionally takes up time from their classroom. Barbara offered the following advice due to a lack of school discretionary funds: “Well, my suggestion to all of you is to enjoy your free periods while you can. Because music class will be going bye-bye-bye like Blackstreet Boyz II Men.” The quote was an example of how Barbara preferred to deal with the reality of situations instead of sugar-coating the truth, and the remark was the first sign that she was not familiar with correct celebrity names.

A viral trend of students walking on classroom desks invaded Abbot, and Barbara, a faithful churchgoer and God-fearing woman, was furious. She marched into the teacher lounge and shouted, “Sweet baby Jesus, and the grown one, too! My desks have been desked!” While sweet and kind in her classroom and the school’s hallways, Barbara showed a side of herself that sometimes needs to get angry and vent in private with her colleagues.

Barbara’s well-intentioned advice caused more anxiety, yet it showed how she has learned through her teaching career not to over-worry. The student motivation in Barbara’s story was also a subtle reference to the children’s film, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, with which Barbara was unfamiliar, making her reflection funnier.

The season 2 episode, “Teacher Appreciation,” revolved around Teacher Appreciation Week at Abbott. Barbara received boxes of lotion, and while the teachers appreciated the gesture, they felt the school district should have fostered a more worthy honor, the very least of which would be a restaurant gift card. At the end of the episode, Barbara expressed her and the teacher’s feelings poignantly and honestly: “That’s what I love most about the lotion. When I put it on, it reminds me that this school, my peers and these students, are all we have, and we all appreciate each other so much. Although, a $50 Buffalo Wing gift card wouldn’t hurt anybody.”

The plotline that ran through much of season 2 was the fear that Abbott would be turned into a fancy charter school by Draemond Winding, one of Barbara’s former students. After the teachers and students rallied to keep Abbott Elementary open, Draemond naively and arrogantly told his beloved teacher that he was pleased by bringing the whole community together. In an interview with the documentary crew, Barbara, in true fashion, let her true feelings be known with a modicum of class and trademark grin: “Every student is special, and you have to give them your best, and you hope they will carry it with them. But at the end of the day, they have to decide who they want to be. And this one decided to be a jackass.”

Barbara shared in the season 2 opener, “Development Day,” how she had recently returned from a summer cruise and had already assisted the principal in distributing the school’s grant funds. While maintaining her well-mannered and proper demeanor, Barbara let it slip that she had a lot of fun on the cruise: “My next goal is to get that student an appropriate desk and follow up on the shoes I lost on the cruise. I was very inebriated. Sea Barbara is different than Land Barbara.”

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The season 2 episode, “Wrong Delivery,” revealed how often Barbara confuses white celebrity names for Black celebrities. The teachers have begun a trivial conversation about the actors who could play Spider-Man in a reboot of the films. When Ava suggested a Black actor be chosen for the role, Barbara enthusiastically responded, “Well, if they do go with a Black actor, I hope they go with that Mr. Brian Austin Green. I’m so proud of that young man and all of his success.” The camera shifted to Janine, who explained that Barbara actually meant Brian Tyree Henry. Other mismatches Barbara shared in the episode showed her out of touch with pop culture.

Fictional kindergarten school teacher Barbara Howard is the heart and soul of the popular, award-winning workplace comedy Abbott Elementary, and she has provided some of the series’ best quotes throughout two seasons. As the Philadelphia school’s veteran educator of 20 years, Barbara has earned respect from the faculty, staff and students. She has always had the back of her best friend and co-worker, Melissa; has been sought out for advice from younger teachers like Janine, Gregory and Jacob; has gone out of her way to care for her students, and has helped steer the immature principal Ava in the right direction, albeit reluctantly.


In nearly every episode, the charming, caring and humorous Barbara has shared old-school wisdom and teaching insights with the other teachers and the camera crew that is documenting life at Abbott. Though revered at the school, Barbara has been teased because of her age and being out of touch with pop culture. Seasoned actor Sheryl Lee Ralph who has brought the character of Barbara to life on the small screen, has won numerous awards for her portrayal, and these are the 10 best quotes that have made Barbara one of the most likable characters on Abbott Elementary.

10 Barbara’s Assessment Of Teachers’ Roles At Abbott

Barbara looks series in Abbott Elementary

The mentoring relationship between Janine and Barbara was established immediately in the pilot episode and has been a focal point of the series, with Barbara acting like Janine’s real mom. When Janine, who lacks older female mentors, became distraught over the challenges of being a teacher, Barbara told her: “Janine, teachers at a school like Abbott… we have to be able to do it all. We are admin. We are social workers. We are therapists. We are second parents. Hell, sometimes, we’re even first. Why? Huh, it sure ain’t the money.” Barbara’s experience gave Janine the encouragement she needed to keep caring and fighting for her students’ needs.

9 “Have You Heard The Saying…”

Barbara gardening

Barbara has not been the type of person who suffers fools lightly. After all, her zodiac sign is Gemini. Thus, she has often expressed her indignation over someone’s foolishness with a raised eyebrow and a quip. In the season 1 episode, “Ava vs. Superintendent,” Barbara and the well-meaning, know-it-all, Jacob, have been working in the school garden when Barbara lamented that she had never received a school grant after a decade of applications, prompting Jacob to wonder if her repeated efforts are the definition of insanity. Without missing a beat, an offended Barbara responded: “Have you ever heard the saying that I will pop you upside your head if you imply that I am insane?” The quote is indicative of how Barbara stands up for herself without holding any grudges.

8 “Music Class Will Be Going Bye-Bye-Bye”

Abbott Elementary Barbara Howard with microphone

In the same episode, “Ava vs. Superintendent,” Jacob and Janine have been complaining about how music class occasionally takes up time from their classroom, which prompted Barbara to offer the following advice due to a lack of school discretionary funds: “Well, my suggestion to all of you is to enjoy your free periods while you can. Because music class will be going bye-bye-bye like Blackstreet Boyz II Men.” The quote was an example of how Barbara preferred to deal with the reality of situations instead of sugar-coating the truth, and the remark was the first sign that she was not familiar with correct celebrity names.

7 “Sweet Baby Jesus And The Grown One, Too!”

Barbara Desking

A viral trend of students walking on classroom desks invaded Abbot in the season 1 episode, “Desking.” Barbara believed that she had been such a good teacher and disciplinarian. Her kindergartners would never misbehave like that in her classroom. When the little ones participated in the game, Barbara, a faithful churchgoer, and God-fearing woman, was furious. She marched into the teacher lounge and shouted: “Sweet baby Jesus, and the grown one, too! My desks have been desked!” While sweet and kind in her classroom and the school’s hallways, Barbara showed a side of herself that sometimes needs to get angry and vent in private with her colleagues.

Related: Abbott Elementary: Cast & Character Guide

6 Barbara Remembers Past Abbott Elementary Field Trips

Abbott Elementary Sheryl Lee Ralph Barbara 2

In the season 1 finale, “Zoo Balloon,” the school went on a field trip to the Philadelphia Zoo. Naturally, some teachers were concerned about keeping students from wandering off. Barbara assured her colleagues that all would be well, telling them: “I have been through this many times before. The worst was 2005. A child by the name of August got lost in The Hershey Factory, looking for a chocolate river. Mnh!” Barbara’s well-intentioned advice caused more anxiety, yet it showed how she has learned through her teaching career not to over-worry. The student motivation in Barbara’s story was also a subtle reference to the children’s film, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, with which Barbara was unfamiliar, making her reflection funnier.

5 “A $50 Buffalo Wild Wing Gift Card Wouldn’t Hurt Anybody”

Barbara gift card

The season 2 episode, “Teacher Appreciation,” revolved around Teacher Appreciation Week at Abbott. Per tradition, the students brought discount store gifts for their favorite teachers, and Barbara received boxes of lotion. While the teachers appreciated the gesture, they felt the school district should have fostered a more worthy honor, the very least of which would be a restaurant gift card. At the end of the episode, Barbara expressed her and the teacher’s feelings poignantly and honestly: “That’s what I love most about the lotion. When I put it on, it reminds me that this school, my peers and these students, are all we have, and we all appreciate each other so much. Although, a $50 Buffalo Wing gift card wouldn’t hurt anybody.

4 Barbara Is Disappointed In A Former Student

Abbott Elementary Barbara Howard

The plot line that ran through much of season 2 was the fear that Abbott would be turned into a fancy charter school by Draemond Winding, one of Barbara’s former students. After the teachers and students rallied to keep Abbott Elementary open, thus defeating Draemond’s plans, Draemond naively and arrogantly told his beloved teacher that he was pleased by bringing the whole community together. In an interview with the documentary crew, Barbara, in true fashion, let her true feelings be known with a modicum of class and trademark grin: “Every student is special, and you have to give them your best, and you hope they will carry it with them. But at the end of the day, they have to decide who they want to be. And this one decided to be a jackass.

Related: Abbott Elementary: MBTI® Types Of The Main Characters

3 “Sea Barbara Is Different Than Land Barbara”

Abbott Elementary Barbara Howard in hallway

The season 2 opener, “Development Day,” explored how the teachers got ready for the new school year before the students arrived for their first day. Barbara shared that she had recently returned from a summer cruise and had already assisted the principal in distributing the school’s grant funds. She also learned she would be receiving a student who used a wheelchair and, therefore, would need a desk to accommodate them. While maintaining her well-mannered and proper demeanor, Barbara let it slip that she had a lot of fun on the cruise: “My next goal is to get that student an appropriate desk and follow up on the shoes I lost on the cruise. I was very inebriated. Sea Barbara is different than Land Barbara.”

2 Barbara Mixes Up Black And White Celebrities

Abbott Elementary Barbara Howard Mixing Up Celebrity Names

The season 2 episode, “Wrong Delivery,” revealed how often Barbara confuses white celebrity names for Black celebrities. The teachers have begun a trivial conversation about the actors who could play Spider-Man in a reboot of the films. When Ava suggested a Black actor be chosen for the role, Barbara enthusiastically responded: “Well, if they do go with a Black actor, I hope they go with that Mr. Brian Austin Green. I’m so proud of that young man and all of his success.” The camera shifted to Janine, who explained that Barbara actually meant Brian Tyree Henry. Other mismatches Barbara shared in the episode, showing how she has tried to stay current with pop culture, include Millie Bobby Brown, aka Bobby Brown; Tommy Lee Jones, aka James Earl Jones.

1 Barbara’s Favorite “B” Words

Abbott Elementary Barbara Howard and parent

Faith has been a central part of Barbara’s character as it has helped her care for others, make good decisions and overcome life’s obstacles. However, Barbara has also spoken of her faith in pious ways at the start of an episode, only to discover by the end that she was too high and mighty. This was the case in the season 2 episode, “Egg Drop.” After a parent with the infamous “B” word” tattooed to her chest drops off her kid in Barbara’s classroom, an exasperated Barbara exclaims: “As a good Christian woman, I would never mark my body with such an obscenity. I don’t even believe in saying that word out loud. My favorite “B” words” are Barbara, Bible, blessing, blueberries!” Barbara’s clever usage of language and the sparkling smile she flashed as she named her favorite “B” word” might be the best and funniest quote Barbara has given on Abbott Elementary.

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