TV & Movies

18 Times Abbott Elementary’s Principal Ava Made Us Fall Out Of Our Chairs Laughing

“If you really want to know, you should read her file. I have them arranged by sexiest dad.”

The Best Principal Ava Quotes From 'Abbott Elementary' Season 1 & Season 2
ABC/Matt Sayles

Oh, Principal Ava. Abbott Elementary’s fearless leader — a position she may have obtained by less-than-scrupulous means — is always down to deliver some wisdom or unsolicited advice with irreverent flair. Such is Janelle James’ penchant for iconic line delivery that she received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. “My absolute greatest joy is making people laugh,” she wrote on Instagram after earning the Emmy nod. “It’s gotten me through many a rough times. This is amazing.”

While James may derive joy from making people laugh, Ava gets hers from making her fellow educators squirm, adulate her, or look the other way as she questionably appropriates school funds. All in a day’s work! “The worst thing about her is that she’s bad at her job, because it’s impacting kids,” James told Bustle this year. “But people like her [because] she’s funny, and everybody has a part of them that wishes they could say whatever they want, whenever they want.”

And at that, Ava’s a pro. In honor of Abbott Elementary Season 2, here’s a look back at some of Principal Ava’s best quotes so far — a list that will surely only grow with 22 new episodes.

“Oh, you’re the sub! Forgive me, I thought one of my colleagues here hired a stripper for me.”

One of Ava’s most relatable qualities? Her hardcore crush on Gregory, which she does a bad job of hiding.

“Fix the outside, the inside takes care of itself.”

Yes, Ava used emergency district funds to buy a banner for the school with her picture on it — but in doing so, she also made a case for beauty as part of self-care. And that’s, uh, something!

“Gregory is the only person that can stay in my bunker, so stop asking.”

Another Gregory mood — brought about when Ava’s inner doomsday prepper is triggered by a school power outage.

“She pale like a zombie! You know they eat the hottest people first. Let me back my tasty ass up.”

After Janine passes out from not eating all day, Ava doesn’t want to take any chances. James told Bustle that she improvised this line.

“Some of you need to open your eyes to the very real and constant threat of global catastrophe — ooh, are you on TikTok?”

Who says you can’t be an engaged, eco-conscious individual who also likes a good TikTok dance or dopamine scroll? Not Ava!

“This is my art. I write, I edit, I direct, I do the music, I lip-sync. Because of me, when people say that their favorite director is that Ava lady, somebody else gotta be like, which one?”

Speaking of TikTok, Ava is a pro at it — so much so, she considers iconic filmmaker Ava DuVernay an industry peer. The confidence!

“I put it on your list for the kids. How does having a principal with muscle tension serve them?”

Ava put a pedicure foot bath on the community wish list for school supplies and used it during school hours.

“If you really want to know, you should read her file. I have them arranged by sexiest dad. Her name is Courtney Pierce, and her daddy is fine.”

Say what you want about Ava, but she’s clearly attentive when it comes to her students and their families, especially if there’s a hot dad involved.

“My bad, y’all. She was supposed to skip second grade, but they told me during Essence Fest. I missed a lot of paperwork during that month.”

Ava’s attention span has its limits, though, like during Essence Fest in New Orleans. As Janine points out, the annual event is just one weekend long — but Ava manages to stretch the fun for 30 days. Honestly, there’s a message in there somewhere about the importance of taking rest and relaxation off work.

“It’s barely wet. What are you, the CDC?”

When Ava has to pay Barbara for a lost bet, she slips her a bill from inside her bra — because, of course.


Ava’s lines are undeniably iconic — but even when she says nothing, she says something. In Episode 6, a particularly observant student points out that Ava doesn’t actually do much of anything in her role as principal — and Ava’s death glare that follows is a true work of art.

“Don’t tell me what kind of day to have — getting all presumptuous and rude.”

Even the simplest of pleasantries can get you in trouble with Ava, at least, if your name is Janine.

“I would ask what I would bring, but I already know that I’m enough.”

She knows her self-worth!

“Y’all make sure you stretch out — I forgot to have you sign the liability waivers.”

Agreeing to help Janine teach step class was such a wholesome character moment for Ava — even if she shirked a safety consideration or two along the way. Hey, her heart was in the right place.

“He thought he could get away with a thot, but he thought wrong — that’s a tongue-twister.”

As you’ll remember, Ava blackmailed her way into the principal job after catching the superintendent cheating on his wife with the church deaconess — and her retelling of events is the stuff of Shakespeare.

“Thinking about turning that into my woman cave. My lady lair. Somewhere I can take naps and watch Housewives. Do you think I could fit a jacuzzi in there?”

Ava let said superintendent know how she planned to use her blackmail money, and honestly, it sounds like paradise.

“Why am I not getting these videos? I’ve done everything I possibly can to make my phone think I’m 22. I haven’t used capital letters in years.”

Ava’s determination to game the social media algorithm is so real.

“That’s a cute shirt … it would look much better on me. You know what? Give it to me.”

The rare compliment from Ava to Janine! Sure, it’s a little bit backhanded, but for these two, it’s about as sweet as you can hope for.