Originally appeared in Word in Black

Emmy-winning actor Sheryl Lee Ralph discusses Teacher Appreciation Week, teacher pay, and Abbott Elementary BTS on this episode of Union Talk, a podcast by American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten.

Sheryl Lee Ralph has positioned herself to be one of America’s favorite teachers — through her portrayal of Mrs. Barbara Howard on Abbott Elementary, that is. 

Though Ralph hasn’t worked professionally as a teacher, she is the daughter of a college professor and, along with her Abbott castmates, has become a high-profile and vocal advocate for the people who stand at the front of classrooms.

With that in mind, she sat down with Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, to discuss the importance of books and real-world solutions for the American education system.

And here are some highlights from the episode:

Sheryl Lee Ralph shares a behind-the-scenes story about one of the child actors crying on the Abbott Elementary set:

Sheryl Lee Ralph says teachers are among the most disrespected career professionals in the United States:

Sheryl Lee Ralph says if we can’t pay teachers better, college should be free for those pursuing degrees to become teachers: