From on-screen to first-hand
Jason Agins says he was “an armchair traveler” as a kid.
“I watched a lot of Lonely Planet, and anything else on the Travel Channel.”
Years later, he says he still loves to explore, although now he sees the world first-hand.
Proof: he’s visited 55 countries in the last 6 years.
(He says he doesn’t have a favorite. It’s a four-way tie between Turkey, Japan, Russia, and Mexico).
Today, with South Florida as a home base, Jason has forged a career in non-traditional education that lets him connect with students in other parts of the world every day—through his computer screen.
A global teacher
Jason is the Master Teacher of International Communities for International Connections Academy (iNaCA), a K-12 global online private school.
“I work with our 230 or so international students,” Jason says.
“They have to learn not only how to be virtual students, but also how to learn from American teachers and, in effect, get an American education.”
“The complexity and nuance that’s involved in that is constantly challenging—for them and for me,” Jason says.
“But helping my students grow, and learn, and go on to do awesome things is so worth it.”
You’d think Jason’s global adventures might have taken him to see some of his students in their home countries.
Not so, until last year when for the first time, Jason met one of his former students face-to-face.
“At the same time she was a student at iNaCA, she was helping take care of her sick grandmother, and had other family obligations at home in Latvia as well,” Jason says.
To get her to graduate, Jason says he spent a lot of time on the phone and on Skype talking through her different priorities.
“Considering the circumstances, she wasn’t the strongest student,” he says. “But she had grit—and she graduated.”
Eight months later, while traveling through Eastern Europe, Jason met up with her and her family.
“All my kids are superstars,” Jason says, “but she’s a really special success story.”
A new venture
Jason’s passion for people around the world had another effect on him as a young man: he spent a lot of time listening to talk radio.
“You certainly don’t see a lot of kids tuning in to AM radio.”
“But I thought it was so cool that from my living room, I could hear stories from people all over the world.”
That interest in storytelling is something Jason recently circled back to.
As he did with travel, Jason found a way to work it into his job.
A podcast is born
“After AM radio fell off the map, so to speak, I took up listening to podcasts,” Jason says.
“Having worked at iNaCA for several years now, I’ve taught and met so many incredible
“One is in Cirque du Soleil. Another is a child movie star in France. One student enrolled because her family is doing mission work in Brazil to fight human trafficking.”
“These kids are amazing,” Jason says, “and I realized nobody was documenting that.”
A few months later, Jason released the first episode of his own podcast, which showcases the stories of international iNaCA students.
7 episodes in
Jason hosts the podcast himself.
“I try not to talk much,” he says.
“I’m just there to ask the probing questions and get the students comfortable. The stories, the good stuff, comes from them.”
So far, Jason’s released 7 hour-long episodes. Four more are on the way.
Jason says he’s gotten enthusiastic feedback from early listeners.
“It’s so cool to have a student say to me, ‘I downloaded all the episodes on my phone!’”
Jason says he plans to continue producing the podcast indefinitely.
“My love for travel and radio and conversation just converged. It was the perfect storm.”
The next generation
Jason’s wife, Stephanie, also works for iNaCA.
“She likes to travel as much as I do,” he says. “Maybe more.”
The couple is expecting a baby girl this spring.
Jason says they have no plans to stay grounded after she arrives.
“Of course she will be well traveled,” he says.
“We went to Mexico City over winter break, so technically, she’s already been on her first international trip, he says, “with many, many more to come.”
Jason blogs about his world travels here.