It was a dancing pole, she found, that brought her something of her own in Raeford, N.C. She climbed and gripped and spun around the pole in her own home for physical and mental release. She even began instructing pole-dancing techniques on a part-time basis outside the classroom, and often published videos of her dancing to a Facebook profile under a different name.
One video of Mason dancing in her underwear and bra got the attention of the Hoke County school system, where she teaches sixth graders.
Now she is suspended with pay over the video and other items on her page, Mason told The Washington Post on Tuesday.
“Pole dancing allows me to color outside the lines, and know that whatever I produce is perfect the way it is, because you don’t police art,” she said in a conversation over Facebook.
The Hoke County school system confirmed Mason’s suspension but declined to say anything more, citing the ongoing investigation. The district cannot say what her potential violation is, when they were notified of the video or what happens next, spokeswoman Jodie Bryant told The Post on Wednesday.
In a local ABC news story, Mason showed a portion of school’s employee conduct rules that govern teacher behavior on social media. Teachers are held to the same standard online as they are in public, it reads.
The policy does not set parameters of what speech crosses boundaries into impropriety, prompting a question over what kind of behavior school officials should be able to police. Mason said that whoever shared the video and set her suspension into motion, was being “malicious” but did not say if it was a friend, colleague, or someone else.
Mason on Wednesday did not respond to further questions about the timeline. She posted the Facebook video on Aug. 4, which features explicit language from Eminem’s song “Super Man.” She did not say when she received notice about the suspension, but local news outlets began reporting it by Aug. 17.
She is still reeling from the decision, and is looking into administrative jobs in case she is terminated, she said.
But in the meantime, Mason is still dancing, and posted a video as recently as Tuesday evening.
There is a stigma attached to pole dancing, she said. If there wasn’t, perhaps she would be nearly ready for the first day of class on Monday.
“I can’t change everyone’s perception of pole dancing or me, but I do like that it is getting the attention it deserves,” she said.