Early Accelerator Handbook

The Early Accelerator experience takes place at either the Durham or Morganton, NC campus of North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics (NCSSM).

This handbook is your guide for what to expect, our policies, and procedures. Email summer@ncssm.edu or call Summer Programs at 919-416-2608 with any questions.

Accelerator Mission

The North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics is the nation’s first publicly funded residential school to offer a specialized curriculum in science and mathematics. NCSSM educates academically and intellectually gifted high school juniors and seniors from across the state. The school serves hundreds more North Carolina students through online courses and interactive videoconferencing courses.

The goal of North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics summer programs, consistent with the school’s mission, is to provide rigorous, high-quality programs for academically talented participants from a wide range of backgrounds.

Important Contact Information

Instructors and Staff

Arrival and Departure

Participant Health and Safety

Participant Expectations and Policies

School Store

Things to Bring

Contact Information

Alicia Stokley is NCSSM’s Director of Summer Programs and Extended Partnerships at NCSSM-Durham. She is a graduate of Elizabeth City State University and started her journey at NCSSM in 2019 as a Summer and Extended Programs Associate Manager. With more than 9 years of experience in program management and recruiting, she is adept at expanding and creating new programs to serve diverse populations,  inspiring leadership growth within a work environment, and enhancing the customer experience. It is her desire to help students meet their fullest potential at Summer Accelerator by providing an environment that is safe, supports risk-taking, and invites a sharing of ideas. Alicia has received the COA “Catalyst” award two years consecutively (2017 & 2018), COA “Employee of the Year” in 2019, and NCSSM’s Chancellor Award for Excellence Nominee in 2021. She believes in making sure the quality of our work reflects our potential outcome for a successful and engaging environment. 

Alicia Stokley has been a year-round manager since 2019. You can reach her by phone at (919) 416-2701 or by email at alicia.stokley@ncssm.edu.

Blake Reed came to NCSSM as the Summer and Extended Programs Assistant Director in October 2020 at NCSSM-Durham. His main responsibilities in this role are to help manage the daily logistics of NCSSM’s summer programs. Most recently Blake served as a Youth Director at the YMCA of the Triangle where he managed school programs. Blake is passionate about connecting students with opportunities to explore their full potential and believes that successful students create thriving communities. Blake is a North Carolina native and attended East Carolina University. He enjoys golfing, traveling, and spending time with his family and friends.

In October 2020, Blake Reed joined our summer office as a year-round manager. You can reach him by phone at (919) 416-2635 or by email at blake.reed@ncssm.edu.

Taylor Flach serves as an Assistant Director for Summer Programs for NCSSM-Durham. Prior to that role, she served as the Program Assistant for Summer Programs. She is a 2018 graduate of NCSSM and attended North Carolina State University. She graduated from NCSU with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. While in college, Taylor has served in various roles for NCSSM’s Summer Accelerator program and is excited to be working with the Summer Team year round now to expand her impact. In her free time she enjoys traveling and spending time with friends and family.

Taylor Flach joined our summer programs staff in January  2022. You can reach her by phone at 919- 416-2615 or by email at taylor.flach@ncssm.edu.

Gina Barrier is the Director of Summer Programs and Extended Partnerships at NCSSM-Morganton. For 21 years, she conducted teacher professional development for The Science House, NC State University. She has experience with K-12 programs that involve data-collection technology, robotics, coding, VR/AR technology, 3D printers, and other makerspace technologies using inquiry-based pedagogy, including project-based learning. She has degrees from Lenoir-Rhyne University and Appalachian State University. She has taught high school Chemistry, AP Chemistry, and Physics and worked as an industrial chemist. She has also served as President of the NC Science Leadership Association (NCSLA) and was presented with their Michael C Jackson Distinguished Service Award for outstanding service to STEM education in 2019.

Gina Barrier joined our summer programs staff in February 2022. You can reach her by phone at (828) 347-9132 or by email at gina.barrier@ncssm.edu.

Susan Gantt is the Associate Manager of Summer Programs at NCSSM – Morganton.  She is a retired public educator with 30 years of service in Alexander County Schools. She has been a middle and high school teacher, middle school assistant principal, middle school principal, and, lastly, served as the Director for Career and Technical Education (CTE) and Secondary Curriculum. She holds education degrees from NC State University and Appalachian State University. She resides in Hickory with her husband of 30 years and is the mother to 3 children. She enjoys reading, hiking, crossword and sudoku puzzles, the beach, and spending time with her family. Susan began in April 2022, and you can reach her by phone (828) 347-9087, and email susan.gantt@ncssm.edu

Josh Blackburn joined NCSSM in August 2023 as Assistant Director for Summer and Extended Programs on our Morganton campus. Prior to joining the team at NCSSM he worked in Burke County Schools as a classroom teacher for eight years and in Caldwell County Schools as a gifted education specialist. Josh is passionate about providing STEM opportunities to students in rural communities and helping teachers facilitate STEM activities in elementary classrooms so learners have a strong STEM foundation to begin their educational journey. He earned his bachelor’s degree in elementary education and his master’s in school administration at Appalachian State University. Outside of work, Josh enjoys photography, competing with his dog Oakley, and cooking.  

Josh Blackburn is the Associate Manager of Summer and Extended Programs (Morganton) you can reach him by phone at 828-347-9135, and by email at josh.blackburn@ncssm.edu.

Durham Campus Emergency calls can also be directed to the Office of Campus Safety, (919) 416-2711. On-campus, call (919) 416-2711 or the Student Life Main Desk, ext. 2825.

Morganton Campus Emergency calls can also be directed to the Office of Campus Safety, (828) 347-9100. On-campus, call (828) 347-9100.

Instructors and Staff


Skillful teachers with the assistance of NCSSM instructors developed the Early Accelerator courses based on their experience teaching these topics to school participants year-round. Their expertise in the field, combined with their particular experience in instructing young participants is a cornerstone of the Accelerator program. 

Instructional Assistant 

The Instructional Assistant (TA) provides support with the preparation and execution of classroom instruction. 

Student Support Specialist

The Student Support Specialist is responsible for reviewing health forms, supporting families with their preparation for the program, and supporting students’ success and social-emotional wellbeing during the summer.

Arrival and Departure

Participants may be picked up/dropped off by their parents or a designated adult. If someone other than the parent/guardian listed on the application will be picking up your student, please complete the authorized adult(s) question on the parent comments form or inform program coordinators in advance at summer@ncssm.edu. 


Durham check-in and drop-off parking is located in Bryan parking lot at the Club and Ninth Street entrance. In GPS, use address “1912 W. Club Blvd, Durham, NC 27705”. Enter into ETC Lobby to check-in.

Sample Schedule for Durham

Monday – Thursday

8:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.        Student Arrival, Check-in

9:00 a.m. – 11:30 p.m.          Class time

11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.      Lunch 

12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.      Class time (includes break and snack time)

3:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.       Student Departure


8:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.        Student Arrival, Check-in

9:00 a.m. – 11:30 p.m.       Class time

11:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.      Lunch 

12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.      Class Displays and Departure 


Morganton check-in and drop-off  is located across the road from Morganton Ace Hardware (526 W Fleming Dr, Morganton, NC 28655.) Do NOT use the GPS address for NCSSM-Morganton. Once you turn onto the campus drive, cross the railroad tracks and take the first road on the left up the hill to the parking lot. Check-in will be in Goodwin Hall. Staff will be on-site to direct you. A valid Drivers License or Government ID is required to pick up students.

Sample Schedule for Morganton 

Monday – Friday

8:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.        Student Arrival, Check-in

9:00 a.m. – 11:30 p.m.       Class time

11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.      Lunch 

12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.      Class time (includes break and snack time)

3:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.       Student Departure

Participant Health and Safety

Taking Medication

Participants must report all prescription medications on the Parent Comments and Health Form. Participants must turn in all prescription medications upon arrival and the medication must be in the original prescription container with a label. Staff will follow directions on the prescription bottle. Medications will be distributed by RLL’s and our nurse on staff at appropriate times.  All controlled substances must be handed in to the RLLs who will give to participants when needed and directed by the parents and student. 

Participants who bring and do not report their prescription medication will be immediately removed from the program.

Health Services

If a participant becomes ill or injured during the program, the participant should report their symptoms to an instructor, TA, or any Summer Program Manager. Many of the Summer Programs staff are trained and certified in first aid and CPR and are able to care for students with minor illnesses and injuries. The NCSSM health clinic on the Durham and Morganton campus will be staffed by registered nurses during business hours. More serious problems may require a visit to a local urgent care or hospital emergency room. Every effort will be made to contact the parent/guardian prior to transporting the student.

Protection of Minors

In accordance with the UNC System Protection of Minors Policy and NCSSM policies, all instructors and staff members interacting with students enrolled in the program have undergone background checks and training. All NCSSM employees are required by law to report suspected abuse or neglect of a minor. Students are required to agree to a code of conduct before participating in online programs.

Reporting of illegal or inappropriate online behavior: pom@ncssm.edu; Brian Wiggs, NCSSM Campus Safety, 919-416-2910; NCSSM Campus Safety Desk, 919-416-2911; NCSSM Morganton Campus Safet, 828-347-9100; or any Summer Programs Manager, summer@ncssm.edu, 919-416-2608

Participant Expectations and Policies

Code of Conduct

North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics is one of the most prestigious residential high schools in the country. The academic opportunities available provide a unique and exciting learning experience, enhancing participants’ intellectual and social growth while connecting them to a dynamic network of future leaders in science, mathematics, technology and manufacturing, government, the arts, and other fields. Opportunities and challenges abound, allowing for the gifted and enthusiastic people–both students and faculty–associated with the school to excel. Each day at NCSSM provides ample evidence that the NCSSM community is poised to change the world.

Participants selected to attend the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics bring with them a variety of backgrounds and expectations. The school is committed to working cooperatively with participants and their parents to create a positive, supportive, and intellectually stimulating environment. A major goal of NCSSM is enabling participants to live independently. NCSSM offers many opportunities for participants to grow as individuals, and they will have many opportunities for greater personal responsibility. With the increase in freedom comes the challenge of making positive decisions.

The NCSSM Code of Participant Conduct exists to guide and inspire the entire community’s decision-making process. This code provides participants, parents/guardians, school employees, and the public with expectations for community behavior. All participants are responsible for conducting themselves in a manner that helps enhance an environment of learning in which the rights, dignity, worth, and freedom of each member of the academic community are respected. The NCSSM Code of Participant Conduct is the commitment to follow the fundamental principles of integrity, responsibility, and respect. As community members, participants agree at all times to be honest, kind, and respectful of people, property, and the free exchange of ideas.

Dress Code

The school expects that participant clothing be neat, clean, and appropriate for the occasion. Shoes are required in all areas. Many courses require closed-toe shoes to ensure safety in the lab.


Wireless internet is available in all areas of campus, including residential halls, classrooms, offices, and external grounds. All participants enrolled in NCSSM summer programs, regardless of their campus, must abide by the NCSSM Network Usage Agreement and Acceptable Use Policy. Participants may contact NCSSM tech support at http://www.ncssm.edu/help.

Damages and Charges

Each participant in NCSSM Summer Programs shall be responsible for any damage he or she may cause to property owned by the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics. Should a participant cause any damage to school-owned property, NCSSM will charge the participant’s parent or guardian an amount to cover the costs of repair or replacement.

Disciplinary Procedures

Any member of the NCSSM community who witnesses an incident that violates the above fundamental principles has the right and the responsibility to address that behavior. No written document can provide for all circumstances; therefore, the exercise of discretion and good judgment is expected. The primary consideration in each decision must be, “What is best for the community?”

Dismissal from NCSSM Summer Programs

If any faculty, staff or community member witnesses or is made aware of any serious violation(s) of the Code of Conduct, including, but not limited to possession, trafficking and/or use of drugs or alcohol; possession or use of a weapon; use or possession of alcohol; or behavior which threatens the safety of a participant, staff member or property, the school administration may immediately dismiss the participant. Upon dismissal, it will be the responsibility of the family to make arrangements for the participant to leave campus as soon as possible. Participants and parent(s) acknowledge that if a participant is dismissed or departs for any reason, no refunds can be granted. Further, the family is responsible for any and all costs of early departure whether for medical reasons, dismissal, personal emergencies or otherwise.

In the event that a participant is sent home early, parent(s) should understand that participants leaving for any reason may not be accompanied by staff on their trip home. In addition, if parent(s) cannot be reached when and if the student is dismissed, the Emergency Contact Person designated by your forms will be contacted for notification and communication purposes.

Non-discrimination policy

In administering its affairs, the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics is committed to equality of opportunity. It is the policy of the school to be fair and impartial in all its relations with its students, participants, employees and applicants for employment and to not discriminate against any person on the basis of race, color, creed, national origin, gender identification, sexual orientation, religion, disability, age or honorable service in the armed services of the United States.

School Store

The school store sells NCSSM clothing and gifts. View our online store!

Things to Bring

Things NOT to Bring