DHS Alum Beyonce Choreographer Shares Journey

DHS Alum, Beyonce Choreographer Shares Arts Journey, Triple-A Experience with Scholars in Recent Installment of Scholar Speaker Series
Posted on 04/09/2024
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DeSoto Independent School District alum with Beyonce ties visits scholars to discuss his pathway to arts-focused advancement and success.


Beyonce’s 2018 Coachella Homecoming choreographer Jamal Josef, a 2006 DeSoto High School grad, met with scholars at the McCowan MS, Woodridge Fine Arts Academy and WMS Male Leadership Academy to discuss professional arts opportunities and aspirations for male artists. Josef recently completed an independent film project titled “Black Boys Dance Too,” a look into the presence and journey of black male artists immersed in dance.


While in high school, Josef was a member of Ritmos Urbanos, his high school dance team that performed for a national championship soccer game in 2006.  He also founded his high school step team, The DeSoto Steppers. It was at this point that he began to recognize his passion for dance.  Josef received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communications from Voorhees College in 2010.  At Voorhees, he directed the model troupe, and the school dance team, and was president of his fraternity chapter, the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., in which he was elected step master.  After graduation, he moved to Atlanta to begin a professional career in the performing arts.


In 2018, Josef returned to DeSoto ISD to host a dance clinic with scholars that culminated in a live performance on WFAA’s News 8 Daybreak.


CDGU Lunch and Learn Series

Josef’s visit was made possible by the DeSoto ISD College Driven Gear Up grant is hosting a speaker series designed to provide access, example, and mentorship to middle school scholars. The Lunch and Learn Series provides scholars with an opportunity to engage with speakers on a host of various topics such as leadership, professional guidance, and even rules for the road/nuggets for success overall as a student and scholar in life all during the lunch hour.

To date, the series has featured:

  • Danny Martin, Esposure
  • Nurse Miller, DeSoto West Nurse
  • Dr. Lastassia Williams, DeSoto ISD Health Services Director
  • Dr. Chelsea Thomas, UT-Southwestern Anesthesiologist
  • Honorable Judge Mike Jones, Precinct 4-1
  • Hector Faulk, Attorney
  • Doris Miller, Retired Dallas Police Dispatcher
  • Ryan Jesionke, DeSoto Assistant Chief of Police
  • Cedric "Sekend" Jackson

During the series, speakers are able to provide both insight and encouragement to our scholars so that they are able to learn and grow at their highest levels.


About the College Driven Gear Up Grant

The Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) State Grant is a seven- year federal initiative designed to increase early college awareness, readiness, and success for low-income and historically underrepresented students. This grant serves an entire cohort of students beginning with seventh grade and following the cohort through high school. GEAR UP funds are also used to provide college scholarships to low-income students.

College Driven GEAR UP will provide resources for educators, students, and parents on topics including:

  • College Readiness
  • College Awareness
  • Advanced Academics
  • Promising Outreach Practices
  • Financial Aid
  • Parent Involvement
  • Mentors, Mindsets, and Relationships

The DeSoto ISD College Driven GEAR UP grant objectives are aligned with our DeSoto ISD board goals and are as follows:

  • Objective #1: Increase GEAR UP cohort students’ academic performance to adequately prepare them for postsecondary education.
  • Objective #2: Increase the percentage of high school GEAR UP cohort graduates and their participation in postsecondary education.
  • Objective #3 Increase GEAR UP students’ educational expectations and students’ and parents’ knowledge of postsecondary education options, preparation, and financing.
  • Objective 4: Increase students’/parents’ knowledge and skills, regarding work-based learning experiences, STEM, remote learning, use of technology, and mental health services to create a pathway toward increasing their competencies and aptitudes.

The DeSoto ISD College Driven Gear Up is a $7 million college readiness grant available to support this area of development for current middle school students that will follow this cohort to support and track scholars’ transition and success in higher education.

“Our grant is all about exposure, exploration, and experiences,” said College Driven Gear Up Grant Director Dr. Calvin Green. “As a team, the College Driven GEAR UP grant is here to provide a plethora of these opportunities for our scholars.  Our grant pushes college, career, and military readiness for all cohort scholars to help ensure that they are well-versed and knowledgeable about the opportunities that await them once they leave DeSoto ISD.”