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NCSSM’s best kept secret lies in the humanities department

“Since my first year as a teacher, I’ve always wanted to grow, become better at my craft, reach students, and push myself professionally,” said Jason Lineberger, digital learning coordinator for Cleveland County Schools and teacher in the online program for The North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics (NCSSM).

In the 25 years since he began his journey as a teacher, Lineberger has taught all levels of high school English, from ninth grade to AP Literature. He worked as an adjunct professor of English for over a decade while also learning the ropes of online teaching and course design in his time with North Carolina Virtual Public School.

10 years ago, he expanded his focus after finding success working with adult learners. Lineberger began building and delivering professional development for teachers as one of the trainers for the now-defunct North Carolina Teacher Academy. In the years since, he has become a regular presenter at the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching and a familiar face at teacher conferences.

Lineberger poses with a one of his teacher groups from the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching while they hold their art bots.

In his role with Cleveland County Schools, he trains online teachers and oversees course development and instruction for Summit Virtual Academy, where he also teaches all four levels of high school English online. In 2014, PBS named Lineberger as one of 100 Digital Innovators, and he now serves part-time as a consultant for PBS and UNCTV, designing and delivering learning activities for children and adults both in person and online.

NCSSM’s motto, “Accept the Greater Challenge,” is one that directly applies to Lineberger’s career. The school approached him in 2013 about stepping in at the last minute to teach a challenging course blending science, history, and technology titled: “Science, Culture and Catastrophe.”

This teaching experience opened an on-going relationship between Lineberger and his high school alma mater. He went on to create a course for their summer accelerator program titled “Rebels, Outsiders, and Visionaries.” This class not only closely examined cutting edge writers, artists, filmmakers, and musicians, but also took a cutting-edge approach by incorporating elements of gamification and game design.

Lineberger’s students from his summer accelerator course titled “Rebels, Outsiders, and Visionaries.”

Lineberger’s involvement with NCSSM has continued to grow. He now teaches Honors 21st Century Media Studies in the fall and Ecocriticism in the spring. The highlights of these courses for him are the regular synchronous classes conducted using online conferencing software. Webinars have a bad reputation for low-levels of student engagement, but Lineberger saw these weekly sessions as an opportunity to push himself as a teacher and rethink the webinar model.

“In Media Studies, it’s all about bringing in experts. When we study radio, I bring in a radio producer. We capped off our look at trends in print literature with an hour-long conversation with a newspaper publisher. For Ecocriticism, I constantly try to make the online nights as engaging and rich as my face-to-face classes.

I use small discussion groups, collaborative writing, role-playing, complex puzzles, even virtual reality — whatever tools I can pull in that will keep the students excited. I want the content of the lessons to be intellectually stimulating and relevant. I often spend 3-4 hours planning for a single synchronous hour, but it’s worth it,” said Lineberger.

NCSSM Dean of Humanities Elizabeth Moose praised Lineberger’s work at the school:

“We are very lucky that Jason has returned to his NCSSM home in a new role as teacher. His wide-ranging content knowledge, creative pedagogy, initiative, passion for teaching and learning, and ability to ‘make it real’ for his students are all wonderful gifts that he brings to his virtual and face-to-face classrooms.”  

NCSSM Dean of Distance Education Jamie Lathan also celebrated and commended Lineberger:

“Jason not only brings creativity and excitement for teaching and learning to our online students, but he brings a deep conviction that distance education technologies can help students collaboratively learn with each other and from each other. We are grateful to have Jason in our program.”

In his professional life, Lineberger continues to accept the greater challenge. He is eager to teach his upcoming course for the Summer Accelerator program — Breaking Reality. It is a class that explores how games work, why we love games, and how games might be used to solve real problems.

“I think I have the most varied job in education. In the morning, I teach online English. I also work with students in our drop-out prevention program and help them find their path to graduation.

In the afternoon, I’m often planning professional development, exploring new teaching approaches, designing online lessons, or engaging in my own professional learning, which ranges from building a 3D printer to teaching myself to program a micro-processor.  

In the evenings, I get to teach a group of the most amazingly gifted and driven students through the NCSSM Online program,” said Lineberger.

Kendall Hageman-Mays

Kendall Hageman-Mays is the Director of Distance Education and Extended Programs at the North Carolina School of Science and Math. In her role she oversees NCSSM’s Online and Interactive Videoconferencing Programs (IVC), Summer Programs, Enrichments and outreach for the school.