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Lisa Ann Walter remembers being raised by a teacher.
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Abbott Elementary's Lisa Ann Walter Was Raised By A No Nonsense Public School Teacher

“She wouldn’t take their mess. She was too much of a New York Sicilian broad.”

Lisa Ann Walter is in the midst of a bona fide full circle moment. The actress was raised by a public school teacher and now she plays second grade teacher Melissa Schemmenti on Abbott Elementary. She knows what it’s like to go to public school and, perhaps even more importantly, she remembers what it’s like to be a kid who wants that cool thing at school and can’t afford it.

Like, say, the eternally cool 4 Color BiC pen her schoolmates had, but her own school teacher mom never bought. “My mother was like, that’s for rich people,” Walter tells Romper. “I thought only rich people had this pen.” That pen remained a mystery to our beloved Chessy from The Parent Trap for years. “It was magical. I literally thought that the ink changed color when you press the button. I didn’t realize there were four pens in there until somebody I think ran one over and I saw four pens inside of it.”

The spell has been broken for Walter, but she still remains the daughter of a school teacher who knows what it’s like to go without. Not that her mother would take any nonsense from her or her students. “She wouldn’t take their mess. She was too much of a New York Sicilian broad,” Walter says. Sound familiar?

Lisa Ann Walter has played Mrs. Schemmenti on Abbott Elementary for the past two seasons. ABC

The Emmy-winning Abbott Elementary star has partnered with BiC to gift teachers with free school supplies ahead of the new school year. It’s an issue Walter, a single mom of four adult kids — 35-year-old son Jordan Braum, 32-year-old daughter Della Braum, and 22-year-old twin sons Simon and Spencer Braum — knows a little something about from her own childhood. Which is why she decided to support the Kids In Need Foundation, a resource committed to providing equitable learning environments for both teachers and students in under-resourced schools.

“These are the people that my mother taught,” Walter says. “I know what it is to be the kid eating a piece of bread with a cheese slapped on top, going to class and not have the same cool things that the other kids have, or any writing implements.”

To that end, Walter and BiC hosted an event in New York City where educators were given access to a secret “teachers only” supply closet. They were able to choose from various BiC stationery products — free of charge — and stock their classrooms with writing tools.

Walter’s empathy for those going without comes from personal experience. Despite the fact that she’s a hugely recognizable actor, money was often tight when she was raising her own kids.

“When my kids were growing up, I had a time where I was making some money. This is an important part of what we’re doing right now with the labor action,” Walter says, referring to the ongoing actors’ union SAG-AFTRA strike. “People said if you’re on TV ever, in a movie that you’re rich forever, and it’s not true. You make a certain amount of money, you live in an incredibly expensive city like Los Angeles or New York. I was the sole financial provider and I was a single mom of four kids, and you make some money and you spend it. And the money got less and less over the years.”

Because she always had to be available for work, Walter wasn’t able to take her kids on many vacations when they were younger. Abbott Elementary changed that for her. “Because I was lucky enough and blessed enough to be part of this extraordinary hit show, I made some money and I said, now’s the time. I’m doing it now,” she says, referring to the European holiday she took with her adult kids this summer. A trip they all loved. “They not only soaked it in and loved it, but were so grateful for the experience. They’re old enough to know that this was a big thing I was giving them.”

That European trip didn’t let her off the hook from the regular mom challenges all of us have to deal with when it comes to our kids. “One of my twins, I called him little Oprah because from the time he was like 8, he had to share every feeling. And I would like woe betide me if I don’t sit there and listen.”

Regardless, she is still convinced at least one of her kids took notes for a damning book he might write one day. “[It’d be about how] Chessy was a terrible mother,” she jokes. “I’m like, listen...”

As if that could ever be possible.