In the class­room, he’s Peter Plourde, a math instructor who teaches in Northeastern’s Foun­da­tion Year pro­gram, which helps grad­u­ates of Boston high schools pre­pare for suc­cess in col­lege. But he’s also Pro­fessor Lyrical, a rapper and hip-​​hop musi­cian who uses music to make math topics more acces­sible and entertaining.

As Pro­fessor Lyrical, Plourde inspires his stu­dents to take a new look at their lives, com­mu­ni­ties and the cul­ture — some­thing he says math has the power to do.

I’ll walk the walk and talk the talk of both sides. You can do two dif­ferent things,” Plourde said. “Math and hip-​​hop? They’re not that far apart.”

Since high school, Plourde has lived some­thing of a double life of aca­d­e­mics and rap. He attended high school in a suburb of his home­town, Lowell, which he says gave him the ability and drive to suc­ceed in the class­room and pursue higher education.

I was able to flourish at Chelms­ford High, and that got me into UMass Lowell,” Plourde said. “In Chelms­ford, it was actu­ally cool to be smart and to do well in class.”

As he pur­sued a bachelor’s degree in mar­keting and eco­nomics from UMass Lowell — where he later earned a master’s degree — he also per­formed, recorded and orga­nized hip-​​hop shows.

There was no model or blue­print of any­body that was doing this. I was charting a new course,” Plourde said.

Out of col­lege, Plourde excelled at a cor­po­rate job at a car rental com­pany, quickly advancing through the ranks as he became known as one of the organization’s top trainers. But he felt unful­filled, and in 1998 he chose to leave the high-​​paying job and return to Lowell, where he taught in a pro­gram for at-​​risk teens.

I more iden­ti­fied with those kids. I felt that if I wasn’t able to go to high school in Chelms­ford, I would have been one of those kids,” he said.

Because that pro­gram started later in the day than stan­dard high schools — an effort to keep stu­dents engaged and off the streets during the evening hours —Plourde started teaching math courses at a local com­mu­nity col­lege. Higher edu­ca­tion and its pur­suit of larger ideas struck a chord with Plourde, who has been teaching math, event plan­ning and mar­keting at col­leges across Mass­a­chu­setts ever since.

I just want them to pay atten­tion to their world,” Plourde said. “Math has the power to do that, just like music.”