Another week, another quote-worthy Abbott Elementary episode. “Educator of the Year” shines a spotlight on Gregory (Tyler James Williams) after he learns he’s won the “Educator of the Year” award. Feeling uncomfortable with receiving this distinction, Gregory tries to back out of it. To make matters worse, Melissa (Lisa Ann Walter) must write a speech about him. Meanwhile, Janine (Quinta Brunson) struggles with a student, and Jacob (Chris Perfetti) helps Barbara (Sheryl Lee Ralph) complete her teaching requirements. 

It’s a fun outing that deftly balances comedy and heart, with Janine’s storyline, in particular, tugging at the heartstrings. Tyler James Williams steals the episode with a performance that showcases his versatility as an actor. It’s deeply nuanced, fun and surprisingly tender. It’s also a profound love letter to teachers everywhere. 

Below, I’ve compiled a list of quotes (and moments around the quotes) I loved from this week’s episode of Abbott Elementary. Class is in session!

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AVA: Oh, wait. This is a cease and desist for me. Coleman Camping Supplies seems to think that they’re the only Colemans that can sell camping supplies. I got lanterns, too. 

Ava (Janelle James) is trapped in the jaws of the law. She tells Barbara she received a cease-and-desist letter from Coleman Camping Supplies for selling, you guessed it, camping supplies. Hey, it’s not her fault they stole her surname. Maybe she should sue them

Melissa chats with Jacob while Janine and Gregory stand behind her in the teachers' lounge in Abbott Elementary Season 2 Episode 20, "Educator of the Year."

ABBOTT ELEMENTARY – “Educator of the Year” Season 2 Episode 20 – (ABC/Gilles Mingasson) CHRIS PERFETTI, LISA ANN WALTER, QUINTA BRUNSON, TYLER JAMES WILLIAMS

GREGORY: I’m also very uncomfortable with the extra attention. I’m uncomfortable in general, but…

I think Gregory and I were spiritually separated at birth. I, too, am uncomfortable with attention in general. Tyler James Williams plays awkward and uncomfy so well it makes you wonder if it’s part of his personality taking the wheel. Perhaps you have to inject a bit of yourself into every role. 

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BARBARA: People have thrown dirt on my name. Others have given flowers. But it’s all a garden to me. 

Season 2 references gardens as metaphors more than once (save the literal garden Barbara and Jacob tend to — with Gregory’s help). Barbara’s advice to Janine is damn touching. Firstly, I don’t like seeing Janine cry. She’s a sweet soul, so making her weep is like breaking the hearts of a thousand angels. Secondly, Barbara’s wisdom is applicable personally and professionally. She has a valid point: not everyone is going to like you. Some will; some won’t. It’s all a garden. Keep forging ahead. 

Mr. Johnson, Jacob, Melissa, Janine and Barbara watch from the crowd while Gregory delivers a speech in the school gym in Abbott Elementary Season 2 Episode 20, "Educator of the Year."

ABBOTT ELEMENTARY – “Educator of the Year” Season 2 Episode 20 – (ABC/Gilles Mingasson) WILLIAM STANFORD DAVIS, CHRIS PERFETTI, LISA ANN WALTER, QUINTA BRUNSON, SHERYL LEE RALPH

MELISSA: I wrote you this great speech. Well, I landed on a Jalen Hurts tribute post that I repurposed, but still. 

This line is funny by itself. Melissa claims she penned a heartfelt, profound speech in honor of Gregory; however, she plucked a piece for the Eagles’ quarterback and changed it around to suit him. Then, when she finally reads her speech dedicated to Gregory, it’s hilariously tailored for someone with a thriving football career, not a grade school teacher. Lisa Ann Walter was born to play this role. 

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GREGORY: Every day I can come in here and teach, I’m being held up by some of the most incredibly deserving teachers here at Abbott. This profession isn’t about being the best, it’s about doing your best. Being a constant for your students on the good days, the bad, the terrible. It’s the showing up that counts. 

It’s difficult to walk away from this monologue with dry eyes; Tyler James Williams taps into Gregory’s softness for his acceptance speech, making his fellow teachers (and me) weep in the process. It perfectly encapsulates the spirit of this series while honoring educators as the heroes they are. That last bit is apt for any vocation, even life in general — just show up. 

Jacob, Janine and Gregory stand in the teachers' lounge while chatting in Abbott Elementary Season 2 Episode 20, "Educator of the Year."

ABBOTT ELEMENTARY – “Educator of the Year” Season 2 Episode 20 – (ABC/Gilles Mingasson) CHRIS PERFETTI, QUINTA BRUNSON, TYLER JAMES WILLIAMS

What are your favorite quotes from “Educator of the Year”? Sound off in the comments below! 

Abbott Elementary airs Wednesdays at 9/8c on ABC, with next-day streaming on Hulu

This article was originally published on 4/7/23. 

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