Bill Wrightson has always loved reading. As a child, he spent many summers on the beach at the Jersey Shore with his mom and three younger siblings, always with a book in hand. In fact, one summer when he was 12, he whizzed through 38 books. If Bill wasn’t on the beach or in the library, his next favorite place was on a basketball court.
Throughout high school, Bill toured the country playing basketball at showcases and tournaments. He was later recruited to play basketball at St. Thomas Aquinas College, where he studied English and enjoyed the best of both worlds, fully immersed in his favorite activities. Besides a partial scholarship for basketball, Bill earned a full academic scholarship in the Honors Program. Today, he teaches English at Sayreville War Memorial High School in New Jersey.
“I honestly didn’t know what I wanted to do with a BA in English, but the English department at STAC influenced my desire to have even a fraction of the impact on my students that the staff had on me,” he says. “Dr. Shultz, Dr. Rothschild, Professor Golland, Dr. Murray, and Dr. O’Neill had a lasting impact on my love of English. I found their love and knowledge infectious and hope to instill that same spark in my students now.”
Bill models the examples set by his professors in the classroom and credits the time he spent as a Resident Assistant at STAC for developing other skills that have proven useful in his career, including an immediate comfort level standing up before a class to teach. Bill says that his experience abroad at Oxford University also continues to influence his lessons on Shakespeare, one of the courses he enjoyed most as a college student.
“My favorite thing about Oxford was the number of plays I was able to see,” he says. “Other classes toured castles and gardens, but my field trips were to the Swan and Globe and church courtyards to see live theater once or twice a week.” The performances that stood out most include Othello, Much Ado About Nothing, and As You Like It.
Bill, who earned a Master of Arts in Teaching at Monmouth University, is now entering his third year at Sayreville Memorial where he teaches 9th and 10th grade English Literature. He also teaches an elective course on mythology, which is a sampling of the stories of various cultures throughout history including Greek, Roman, Norse, Egyptian, Hindu, Native American, ‘American’ folktales and ghost stories, and his favorite, the modern myth/hero’s journey in American comic books.
“I teach it very much as an extension of an English lit class,” Bill explains. “We do Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey and discuss the consistencies and archetypes that show up again and again despite gaps of thousands of miles and years. The through-line is that we as humans have been gathering around fires and tables and telling each other variations of the same stories forever.”
His career choice has proven to be rewarding so far because Bill has the opportunity to impact a large and diverse student population and at the same time explore his personal interests in literature and mythology. Eventually, he plans to return to school to earn a doctorate and teach at the college level someday.
Bill took advantage of many opportunities at STAC to ensure a well-rounded education during his undergraduate years. In addition to serving as a Resident Assistant and participating on the Men’s Basketball Team, he was a member of Sigma Tau Delta, the English Honor Society, and contributed to The Thoma. As a publicity intern at Wunderkind PR, he coordinated publicity efforts for Penguin Random House titles, booked interviews, and planned tour itineraries. His teaching experience includes observing at Long Branch Middle School and High School and teaching 11th and 12th grade English at Toms River High School East.
Reading, weightlifting, playing pickup basketball, and spending time with his fiancé Brianna and dog Peanut are among the ways Bill enjoys spending his free time. One fun fact: Bill, also known as William Edward Wrightson, is a fifth-generation namesake, the youngest in line after his father and forefathers. “It can be a lot knowing I carry their name, hopes, and wishes in the future,” Bill says, “but I also love the perspective it gives me in reminding myself that I’m here because of the work done by the generations before me.”