NCCU English Composition 1110 instructor Isaac Green in the Farrison-Newton Communication Building before beginning an afternoon class.

Lifetime of creativity inspires Green’s classroom teaching

April 5, 2023

According to students Isaac Hughes Green’s a great, and creative, teacher. His interests range from film making, to creative writing to, to journalism and photojournalism, to advocating for the Black community, to – I kid you not – skateboarding. On his website, he describes himself as a “professional creative.”

And where does skateboarding fit into emergence of Green’s creative mind?

“Skateboarding taught me how to think creatively. A skater sees something to flip off not walk on,” Green said of the sport, a hobby picked on a vacation in Hawaii.

Green, an N.C. Central University adjunct professor, is now in his fourth semester at NCCU and teaching English Composition I.

He completed his high school degree at the N.C. School of Science and Mathematics which he described at “fun and diverse,” adding that it was a challenge to move from home to the residential school at 15 years old.

After a brief stint at Duke University he transferred to study film at the Tisch School of The Arts in New York City. While in NYC he was a city reporter for the school’s student run blog, NYU Local, reporting the Occupy Wall Street movement and the city’s homeless crisis.

Then he earned this Masters of Fine Arts at N.C. State University.

His creative writing has been published in “The Georgia Review” and Best Debut Short Stories 2021: The PEN America Dau Prize. He has been recognized by the Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers, the Jones African-American Literary Prize, The Masters Review 2019 Fall Fiction, and the Hurst Prize. He has both screenwriting and cinematography awards.

In one short story, “15s,” he explores the relationship between a father who is mentoring his son on the basketball court working to resolve conflict.

Green credits his N.C. School of Science and Mathematics teacher Juan Scivally for training him on the in’s and out’s of photography, as well as inspiring him to become a teacher. His supportive mother, Pamela Martin Green, was another inspiration. She often took him art shows to show him what creativity means.

He advises students who seek a career in the arts “to always keep trying.”

“It’s ok to be imperfect or frustrated. Always learn from your mistakes and make lots of progress,” he said. According to Green many think that it’s difficult to earn a living working in the creative arts, but that’s not necessarily so. “There’s lots of opportunity …  it is possible.”

Green’s creative streak is evident in his approach to teaching. He says his favorite thing about teaching is the discussions he initiates among his students. Green utilizes short stories to spark these discussions by asking for students’ “hot take” their readings.

For example, when he asked for a “hot take” on “Risky Corporal Punishment” used to discipline children. The class was torn in half with some for being for and some against the use of physical punishment to discipline children.

According to mass communication freshman Makayla Traylor, “Green is very understanding and a great teacher. The debates are great and he’s good at making sure we understand the work, I respect him.”

Malakhai Reid, biology freshman, agrees. “I enjoy Green’s class over my other ones. I feel more comfortable in his class because of his teaching style, opposed to a lecture.”

According to Green his creativity is for a higher purpose:

“I want to see us being uplifted, overcoming many obstacles that we face as a community, through teaching I feel I can do that,” Green said. “I didn’t see anyone telling a story like mine.”



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NCCU English Composition 1110 instructor Isaac Green in the Farrison-Newton Communication Building before beginning an afternoon class.
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