BTW, a Magnet High School graduate returns to teach theater at her alma mater

Located in Montgomery, Booker T. Washington Magnet High School provided Jesmelia Williams with the essential education she needed to pursue her passion for acting. Throughout her travels around the world, she carried with her the knowledge and skills she acquired in those classrooms.

According to the speaker, the motto of BTW is “excellence in all things,” and this principle has stayed with her. She believes in striving for excellence not only in academics but also in the arts. She recalls that the knowledge she gained about theater and the entertainment industry in high school was tremendously helpful when she went off to college.

After graduating from BTW in 2016, Williams proceeded to college and began her professional acting career.

According to her, she had the opportunity to explore different parts of the world before Dr. Starks contacted her. She was employed by a theater company located in St. Louis at that time.

Quesha Starks, who was the principal at BTW during Williams’ time as a student, is still at the helm of the school today. Three years ago, Starks reached out to Williams and proposed that she teach theater to the upcoming cohort of graduates. For Williams, the opportunity to return to her roots and give back to her community was too good to pass up.

Williams expressed her surprise at returning to BTW so soon, but emphasized the importance of the philosophy of “learn, do, teach.” She credits her own experiences at the school and in college for allowing her to gain valuable professional experience and travel opportunities. Now, Williams is ready to give back and share her knowledge with the next generation.

As a teacher at BTW, she feels a unique connection to her students. Having been a student herself, she understands the challenges they face and what it takes to succeed on stage. She’s thrilled to collaborate with her students on a fresh new stage and bring out their full potential.

Back in 2018, the campus in downtown Montgomery on Union Street was destroyed by a massive fire. However, after years of hard work and dedication, the new BTW was finally opened in August 2023 at a new location on Bell Road. The newly constructed school boasts state-of-the-art studios, classrooms, and a theater, catering to the needs of hundreds of magnet school students.

“She expressed her excitement to utilize the space and make the most out of it. People often approach her with the question, ‘Miss Williams, what was it like when you were here?’ and she finds it enjoyable to connect with them on that level,” she said.

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MBS Staff
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