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Former firefighter sparks creativity in writing class

Glenn Joshua

Glenn Joshua, former firefighter and current creative writing instructor at ECC

Glenn Joshua is no longer a firefighter, but he is still saving lives. Although there is no danger involved in his work as a creative writing instructor, the stakes are still high. Instead of running into a burning building to rescue fire victims, he is preparing students for a brighter future.

 But teaching did not come natural for him.

"Teaching is the exact opposite of firefighting," he said. "When I first started teaching, I taught as If I was a firefighter. I was always reacting to a problem.  I realized that I needed to cultivate a new skillset; especially since I was sharing information that students could take with them and possibly use for the rest of their lives."

As an instructor, he has become more proactive in the classroom. Unlike firefighting, he said, when there is a strategy beforehand, he can significantly influence the outcome of a situation.

Joshua, a native of New Orleans, began his career in higher education at Jackson State University. Since moving to the Midwest, he has taught at Oakton Community College, College of Lake County and the University of Wisconsin-Parkside before starting at Elgin Community College in fall 2014.

He was a firefighter for 10 years before a serious injury forced him into retirement. Joshua, who lives in Gurnee, also served in the U.S. Army and the Army National Guard. He is a veteran of the first Gulf War. 

Although an injury prevented him from following in the footsteps of his father, who retired after 37 years as a firefighter and was the first African American officer in the New Orleans Fire Department, Joshua still feels a strong sense of accomplishment in the classroom. 

"I never thought I would say this, but I've done more good as a teacher," he said. "I only saved one person's life in my 10-year career as a fireman. As an instructor, I can say that I've helped a lot of people. And in the end, that is more profound."

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