Sheryl Lee Ralph may play the role of Barbara Howard on Abbott Elementary—a caring but no-nonsense eductor, who's unafraid of pulling her seniority card—but the actress has also been heavily influenced by Black educators in her personal life.
Her father, Dr. Stanley Ralph, was an instrumental educator, and someone who always instilled in her the importance of education and seeking out knowledge for yourself.
"My father always said, as an educator, children need to see themselves in others. In the classroom, in the office, in positions of higher learning—they need to see others, so they can see what they can become. As far as Black educators who shaped me, it was my dad, who broke the color lines in Connecticut as a teacher. He was a lifelong learner and ran the gamut of education, working his way to college professor and even a principal. He did it all, and he loved it. My auntie Carolyn was a teacher at Bunker Hills School in Washington, DC. She was an audacious teacher, and invited the Queen of England to her classroom—and the Queen came, twice. Teachers like that make such a difference."
Seeing the importance of educators, and even emphasizing the struggles that many Black teachers faced right after the decision for Brown v. The Board of Education was handed down, Ralph found it a no-brainer to partner with allergy-friendly snack brand, MadeGood for a much-needed initiative. The Share Some Good Fund will gift 1,000 teachers across the nation with $200 each to help purchase necessary essentials for their classrooms this school year.
As the actress points out, many educators of today aren't paid a fair wage, so having to use personal funds to stock up their classrooms, shouldn't be something they have to consider.
"For me, it was very simple. It's crazy that so many teachers aren't being paid enough in this country, so they don't have the funds to be able to buy the extra essentials for the classroom. They aren't making wages that keep up with the times. Some are making $27,000, $30,0000—that's it, and we expect them to take money out of their paycheck to buy pencils, paper and other supplies. It just doesn't work, and we have to do better. So, I was very happy to partner with MadeGood to Share Some Good."
As for the parents preparing to send their young learners back to school while also juggling daily household responsibilities and work, the "Sister Act" star encourages them to take advantage of local and community resources like back-to-school drives if needed.
"Take a good breath, inhale and exhale. Then plan to be your best self for your child. There are so many back-to-school programs happening everywhere, providing supplies that will help your child be successful. Backpacks, health services, and even food. Not enough people take advantage of that. Stop acting like you don't deserve more. If it's being served up on a plate for you, you better eat!"