What’s Up Moms’ Elle Walker returns to Pittsburgh for Thank a Teacher surprise

Pittsburgh native Elle Walker’s What’s Up Moms is the top-rated mommy network on YouTube, with more than 900 comedic videos, 60 million views a month and 2.7 million subscribers. Forbes Magazine declared the Los Angeles-based organization the No. 1 Parenting Influencer in the United States.

She credits much of her success to Robin Hodgkin-Frick, a media teacher at Peters Township High School.

Robin Hodgkin-Frick

“Twenty years ago, there was no YouTube or social media,” says Elle, a 1998 Peters High School grad. “She created the media department in my high school and influenced a lot of kids to go into the entertainment field. I was a little bit nerdy and shy, but she gave me the confidence to create content and find my creative voice, which I now use every day.”

Elle, a 39-year-old mother of three, recently partnered with Staples on their summer-long Thank A Teacher campaign.

Staples is seeking 10 educators from across the country who will each receive $10,000 worth of school supplies. Through Sept. 14, current and former students can nominate their classroom idol by sharing a photo, story or video on Twitter or Instagram, tagging @StaplesStores and including the hashtags #ThankaTeacher and #Sweepstakes.

Elle Walker (right) presents her former teacher, Robin Hodgkin-Frick (center), with a $10,000 check for school supplies.

“Teachers play a pivotal role in shaping our future. And the relationships that teachers foster with their students are often some of the most enduring and powerful there are,” says Mike Motz, CEO of Staples Stores. “So, this back-to-school season, we wanted to give teachers the recognition they deserve and unite communities to support each other.”

To kick-off the contest, Elle returned to her teenage stomping grounds to surprise her favorite teacher and create a heartwarming video tribute. She says it’s the least she could do for the woman who helped transform her from an awkward teenager into an Internet star.

Elle went on to Stanford University, where she majored in Science, Technology and Society and started a morning announcement program similar to the one Hodgkin-Frick launched at Peters. What’s Up Moms is a combination of Elle’s formal education and maternal instincts.

Today, Elle is one of the trio of moms who make viral videos such as “I’m So Pregnant” a parody of Iggy Azalea’s “I’m So Fancy” and a comedic mom’s take on Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space.”

Elle is happy she finally gets to sing her teacher’s praises.

“I never had another teacher like Robin,” she says. “When you’re young and impressionable, that’s really the time a teacher can make a huge impact. They don’t get enough credit for the passion they bring to their classrooms.”