A teacher, hip-hop artist, TV show host, cultural ambassador, or writer? Joshua Rowsey, a Teacher Education & Higher Education (TEHE) Department alumnus, proudly claims them all. As a 2019 graduate from the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) program, Josh is a full-time English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher at Rankin Elementary School in Guilford County schools. With a passion for hip-hop, Josh is committed to integrating the music genre in his classroom to engage learners from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds.

Joshua Rowsey TESOL graduate
Josh working with students in Mexico in 2019

While Josh was in the TESOL program, he served as a U.S. cultural ambassador in Mexico in 2019. Working with the U.S. Department of State, the Mexican Embassy, and the Next Level hip-hop program, Josh provided writing, performing, entrepreneurship, and conflict resolution workshops. This year he is scheduled to be back with the Next Level program teaching virtually with friends in Mexico.

More recently, Josh started hosting a new TV show on PBS Kids called “Classroom Connections.” Josh says the show brings the hip-hop/Afrofuturist “feel to education” while also providing English language arts (ELA) and math lessons that are aligned with the North Carolina Teaching Standards. In addition, Josh recently received a grant from the NC Arts Council and the Greensboro Arts Council to bring hip-hop education to the Piedmont Triad area of North Carolina.

Josh shared his experience as a teacher with a passion for hip-hop pedagogy and Afrofuturism in a chapter included in an upcoming book titled “IGNITE: A Justice-Forward Approach to Decolonizing Higher Education through Space, Place, and Culture.” In this chapter, he collaborates with Dr. Donovan Livingston — a fellow SOE alumnus from the Educational Leadership & Cultural Foundations (ELC) department — to explain the application of Afrofuturism in the world of applied learning. Learn more about Josh’s experiences as a Program Director at Blackspace (an Afrofuturist digital makerspace and teen center in Durham) and an educator in Guilford County Schools in this article in YES! Weekly.