Residential Handbook


A summer program that propels learning and expands horizons

Get ready for something different this summer

The Summer 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, what to pack, policies, and procedures.

Email with any questions.

Click here for the Online Handbook.

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 the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics Summer Accelerator program, 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

Academic Life

Residential Life

Participant Health and Safety

Participant Expectations and Policies

Packing List

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/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. 

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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. 

The managers can be reached by email at

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


Instructors developed the 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 adults is a cornerstone of the Accelerator program.

Summer Residential Life Leaders

Residential Life Leaders (RLLs) live in the residence halls and assume an in loco parentis or supervisory role of the students. They are responsible for directing, guiding and supervising summer program participants, particularly in areas of non-academic development. The staff counsels participants on an individual and/or group basis, provides social and recreational opportunities, sets guidelines for acceptable behavior, interprets and enforces NCSSM policies, responds to problems and conflicts and administers discipline when necessary.

Residential Life Counselors

In addition to the Residential Life Leaders, we have a highly skilled team of counselors. Many of them are NCSSM alumni and are chosen for their experience working with youth and demonstrated leadership qualities. They plan and lead afternoon and evening activities and supervise students at mealtimes and in the dorms. They are trained in providing exceptional experiences, being student-centered, and operating with safety in mind at all times.

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.

ITS Support

For rising 10th-12th graders, instructions for setting up your email account and logging into your course can be found here. If you have trouble logging into your NCSSM account or have questions about Canvas, email 

Arrival and Departure

Getting to Campus


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 Bryan Lobby for check-in.

Participants may arrive by any means of transport, but they must indicate the mode of arrival on the forms submitted prior to arrival. If a participant is arriving by train or bus, he or she will be picked up at the Durham station at 515 West Pettigrew. If a participant is arriving to the Durham campus by plane, he or she will be met by baggage claim with a sign with the participant’s name on it at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU), just 15 minutes from NCSSM’s Durham campus.

Students driving themselves to campus must turn in their car keys to campus security and will not be permitted to use their car during the program.


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. Signs will direct you to the student drop off site. 

Students are not allowed to have a car on campus.

Arrival Day

Participants should arrive on Sunday between 1:30 – 3:30 p.m. at Bryan Lobby on the Durham campus and at the residence hall on the Morganton campus. At the registration desk, students will receive room information, access passes, and a quick introduction to the campus. An IT representative will be on hand to get each student connected to the internet and provide students with laptops to borrow if requested in advance. Parents can join their student in getting settled and then are free to leave campus.

After moving into the dorms, students will take a tour of the campus, play group games, have dinner in the cafeteria, participate in a welcome activity, and enjoy an ice cream social.

Unaccompanied Minor Status

Each airline, bus, or train has its own policy about unaccompanied minors. Check with each airline carrier for their specific policy. Please contact any Program Manager for assistance with minors traveling.


Check-out is at 1:00 pm on the Durham Campus and at 2:00 pm on the Morganton Campus on Fridays. Only parents/guardians or designated adults listed in the student’s account will be allowed to pick up a student.

Participants may be picked up 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 adults question on the parent comments form or inform program managers in advance at RLLs will check photo IDs to ensure that the adult picking up is authorized before releasing any student. If departing via bus, train or airplane, please indicate that on the Parent Comments form in advance of arrival so that we may schedule NCSSM staff to accompany the participant to the bus station, train station or airport.

NCSSM staff will take participants to local bus stations and/or the Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU) if they are participating in a Durham campus program.

Academic Life


Instructors developed the 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 adults is a cornerstone of the Accelerator program. Instructors may be in communication with participants up to two weeks before the start of their course with instructions on what to expect.

Coursework for Rising 7th-9th Grade Students

Each course consists of 4.5 days of in-person instruction and study. Requirements range depending on the instructor and topic, but each is a blend of hands-on experience, group work, research, and lectures. Students are in one class for the week and spend 5.5 hours in class Monday-Thursday and about 3 hours on Friday.

Coursework for Rising 10th-12th Grade Students  

The online component typically comprises 8 hours of work before the residential portion of the course. This time includes time for students to introduce themselves and share common interests (which can help build the cohort before they arrive on campus), and time for readings, discussions, video content, reflection questions, inquiry and/or data collection.

Course instructors will send participants specific instructions by the end of the first day of the online component of the course. In order to prepare, participants should make sure to have computer and internet access for at least 5 hours during each of the weeks of the online portion and have the ability to check email for instructions.

Following the online work, each course consists of 4.5 days of in-person instruction and study. Requirements range depending on the instructor and topic, but each is a blend of hands-on experience, group work, research, and lectures.

Evaluation & Certificate

Each student will be evaluated at the end of his or her course by the instructor. A course summary, including a pass or fail, will be shared with the student and his or her parent/guardian by the end of the summer by email.

Participants who complete the course will receive a certificate demonstrating that they participated in an academic course through NCSSM. Participants can take the evaluation and certificate to their high school to seek credit and can choose to use it for college applications. These courses do not have a school power code. While NCSSM cannot guarantee that a school will honor the certificate or provide credit for the course, we are happy to provide schools with the information they request.

Sample Schedule, Typical Weekday

8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.        Breakfast available in the cafeteria

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

11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.      Lunch available in the cafeteria

12:15 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.        Afternoon activity (painting, engineering challenge, sports, etc.)

1:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.        Class

5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.       Dinner available in the cafeteria

6:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.     Evening activities (board games, hiking, s’mores, outdoor movie, etc.)

10:00 p.m.                           In-building curfew

11:00 p.m.                          Lights out

Residential Life

Evening and Off-Campus Activities

Both scheduled activities and free time are offered every evening. We provide students with a comprehensive array of evening activities. On some evenings, students have activities to choose between, including the choice of downtime. On other evenings, we venture as a whole group to Morehead Planetarium in Chapel Hill or skating, swimming, or hiking in Burke County. All excursions are included in the cost of tuition. Any extras, such as souvenirs or extra food, must be covered by the student. Free time can be used for studying, communicating with family, spending time on campus with fellow participants, or relaxing. Students are required to sign up for activities, and attendance will be taken.


Under UNC System policy, on March 7, 2022, mask-wearing became optional indoors and outdoors on both our Durham and Morganton campuses for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people. Students will be housed in double-occupancy dorm rooms and are not required to wear masks while in their rooms.

Upon arrival, participants will check-in at the registration tables where they will be issued room keys and access passes for use during their stay. The room key and access pass must be returned at the end of the program. Lost access passes and room keys must be immediately reported to an RLL. The charge for lost access passes or keys is $50.


Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a snack will be provided each day, Monday through Thursday. Dinner and snacks are provided on Sunday, and breakfast and lunch are provided on Friday. The busy Accelerator schedule does not allow for students to leave campus during mealtimes. The cafeteria is open during the following times each day that students are in residence:

We provide additional snacks that are delivered in the afternoon to each class. Several vending machines are located throughout the Durham campus. Morganton campus has a cafe open to Summer Accelerator students in the evening. Students are also welcome to bring snacks or favorite foods with them.

Campus Facilities

Mail Service

Participant mail is delivered to the Summer Managers and then distributed to instructors during class time. Participant mail and packages may be sent to the following address:

Because participants are only on campus for one week, please be aware of delivery times.


All visitors must check-in upon arrival on campus, and visits must be arranged in advance with the program managers and parent/guardian permission. In Durham, visitors check-in at Bryan Lobby. In Morganton, visitors check-in at Goodwin Hall. Participants may only meet with visitors during the free time indicated on their program schedules. Participants must indicate if they will have visitors in the forms they fill out before the program begins. All visitors must be approved by the participant’s parents and the Summer Administrators must be notified.


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. Wireless internet access is unavailable after 1 a.m. each night. Participants may contact NCSSM tech support at

School Store

The school store sells NCSSM clothing and gifts. Students on the Durham campus have access to vending machines.

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 must follow directions on the label. Medications will be distributed by RLL’s and our nurse on staff at appropriate times.  All controlled substances must be handed into 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. Participants may keep over-the-counter medications in their rooms for their personal use (i.e. pain relievers, cold medications, stomach remedies, herbal remedies, vitamins, etc.). NCSSM assumes no responsibility for the use or misuse of such medications.

Health Services

If a participant becomes ill or injured during the program, the participant should report their symptoms to an instructor, RLL, or counselor. 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.

COVID-19 Policy 

Masking is encouraged but not required

Under UNC System policy, on March 7, 2022, mask-wearing becomes optional indoors and outdoors on both our Durham and Morganton campuses for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people. Although face masks will no longer be required in most campus spaces, we encourage all NCSSM community members to consider wearing them indoors, especially in instructional spaces such as classrooms, labs, and the auditorium. Please remember that while staff, faculty, and community members cannot set more restrictive measures than those required by the school as a whole, you are welcome and encouraged to wear a face-covering in your classroom, work location, or on-campus living facility, and you can request or encourage – but cannot require – others to do the same.

Pre-entry Testing

We are currently not requiring mandatory pre-arrival testing for COVID-19 for all students spending time on campus.

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. 

Reporting of illegal or inappropriate online behavior:; Brian Wiggs, NCSSM Campus Safety, 919-416-2910; NCSSM Campus Safety Desk, 919-416-2911; NCSSM Campus Safety, 828-347-9100; or any Summer Programs Manager,, 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.

Academic Honesty

Participants are responsible for understanding what style of assignment preparation is acceptable to the instructor, and when and if collaboration is allowed. Participants are expected to act in an ethical and honorable manner at all times. All work turned in by a participant should be the result of his or her own efforts unless otherwise instructed. For essays and research assignments, participants must cite all sources for ideas that are not their own. For a guide to citing sources and avoiding plagiarism, see the NCSSM Writing Program webpage (

Dress Code

The school expects that participants’ clothing be neat, clean, and appropriate for the occasion. Shoes are required in all areas of the campus except in participants’ assigned residence halls. Participants are expected to dress appropriately while in the dorm halls. Many courses require closed-toe shoes to ensure safety in the lab.

Social Discipline

NCSSM is a residential environment that is open to participants, staff, parents and visitors. While we expect that participants may sometimes display affection, we also expect that the display will not exceed appropriate limits. Certain displays of affection, like extended kissing or consensual physical contact of a sexual nature, may violate the Code of Conduct. Offenses of this nature will be addressed through the Summer Program Managers. Inappropriate sexual behavior can include full or partial nudity in an intimate situation, or sexual intercourse of any type, including oral sex. Behaviors of this nature will be addressed through the Summer Program Managers.


The following guidelines have been established with the intent of providing an atmosphere conducive to self-directed learning and study for all participants. Curfews are subject to change at the discretion of the Summer Programs staff.

NCSSM Summer Programs participants must stay on campus and within designated boundaries at all times unless participating in a faculty/staff-led outing or field trip. Students must be in their dorms from the 10:00 p.m. curfew until 7:00 a.m. the next day. 

Students are not permitted to sleep in another student’s room- they must reside in the one assigned to them for the duration of programming. 

Phones and Personal Electronics

Cell phones must be turned off when on an academic floor or in an academic setting, including the auditorium, lecture halls, library, conference rooms and in Counseling Services.


Although textbooks at NCSSM are provided for participant use free of charge, lost, damaged or stolen books are each participant’s financial responsibility.

Laptops in the Classroom

Participants are encouraged to use laptop computers for appropriate academic purposes in the classroom. However, such distracting activities as web browsing, checking email or instant messaging are specifically prohibited.

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

Summer Program participants are expected to adhere to the rules and expectations as outlined in this handbook. 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. Instances will be addressed as outlined in our Disciplinary Sanctions Guide. 

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?”

Prohibited Activities

NCSSM is a residential academic community that must be drug-, alcohol-, tobacco- and weapon-free. Participants who engage in the following actions will be immediately dismissed from NCSSM: distributing illegal or prescription drugs or medications, alcohol, or tobacco products or engaging in any sexual activity or act of violence.

At our discretion, participants who engage in the following activities will be dismissed immediately: activities in conflict with the Code of Conduct, accessing one’s car, leaving campus, or engaging in sexual activity.

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 their teen returns home early, 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.

Accelerator Packing Checklist

Dorm Items




Things NOT to Bring