PMHS selects former student to teach drama

Published 5:39 pm Wednesday, August 27, 2008

“We’re looking forward to a great year,” said the new Picayune Memorial High School drama teacher, Bill Rester.

Rester, PMHS class of 1999, earned a degree in English from University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg. After teaching for a year in Mobile, Ala., he moved closer to his hometown to head up the drama department at his alma mater.

He is currently living in St. Tammany Parish and is engaged to be married in October. “I have a wonderful fiancee – Brooke Keel,” said Rester. He chose to return to the Picayune School District because he knew a lot of the faculty and felt comfortable knowing he would be working with some of his former teachers. He said he felt he would have support in the Picayune School District as a relatively new teacher.

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This year Rester will teach two sections of English III for juniors and 4 sections of an introductory theater class. He has also inherited the school’s acting troupe of about 21 students.

“I’m not coming in to rock the boat too much,” said Rester. He said that because Tony Seal, former PMHS drama teacher, laid such a strong foundation, that he plans to listen to the students and make sure that they get to work on projects they will enjoy.

“What they are most interested in is the Mississippi Theatre Association’s One Act Play contest,” he said. He is already getting prepared to take the students to that event. He said he plans to pick a show that showcases all of the talent the group has to offer. At the contest, they will have a chance to earn several state level awards such as best actress/actor, best crew, etc. It’s an event the students look forward to every year.

Rester says he is amazed at the level of talent of the group. “They are hilarious,” he said. “On the second day, we did an improv activity and it was perfect. I was flabbergasted.”

He said meeting and working with the students themselves erased some of his initial anxiety. For the rest of it, he has Freshman Science Skills teacher, Abie Woolridge. Woolridge brings a strong theatrical background to the table. “I’m really glad they brought her to my attention,” said Rester. Woolridge will assist him in directing the school’s productions.

Woolridge, a graduate from Louisiana Tech University, is also a first year teacher. She is excited to assist Rester and work with the drama students. She said she chose to work in the Picayune School District because she wanted to be closer to her hometown and she had heard that PMHS had a great history with its theatre program. She said she is very encouraged to see that the program is well supported within the school and the community.

Rester and Woolridge understand all the after-school activities that most of the students are involved in and they are taking that into consideration as they begin to plan for the upcoming productions. They want to do a musical in the spring and a show sometime just before the holiday break. Rester says that he would also like to host an evening of improv because he really wants to showcase the students’ strong comedic skills.