Mark Dawson, an undergraduate at the University of North Carolina, was dissatisfied with the lack of community between teachers at his high school in Mississippi. He and his friend Grace Sullivan, an undergraduate at the University of Mississippi, have created the EMBRACE Program to address this issue. This on-line professional development creates communities of teachers dedicated to improving one aspect of their teaching while building a community of support. The belief behind their professional development is that when teachers are in supportive communities, students will succeed.

Dawson and Sullivan refer to their program as “a journey to improving”. EMBRACE accomplishes this through two specific parts of its program: a supportive community and the Problem-Goal-Solution (PGS) process. Here is how the program works:

  • Teachers register through the website to join a community of teachers. These communities are founded on three core beliefs: courage, kindness, and learning.
  • Once registered and in a community there is a brief orientation process where teachers watch an orientation video, read the detailed PGS plan, and have a conversation with EMBRACE staff to share thoughts and ask questions.
  • Teachers then begin their PGS Action Plan:
  1. Choose a problem from the E.M.B.R.A.C.E. categories to focus on.
  2. Set a goal.
  3. Pick a solution to implement.
  • Teachers distribute a student survey as a baseline measurement prior to implementation of the solution.
  • The larger community breaks into teams of 4-6 teachers that will meet multiple times throughout the semester.
  • At the end of each semester, teachers administer the student survey provided through the site. The survey results are used to measure improvement as well as a basis for professional development.
  • Teachers then have a follow-up meeting with their team to discuss their solution and how they will continue to face the chosen problem in the coming semester.
  • Teachers who have completed this process become EMBRACE teachers and continue the PGS process.

Mark Dawson, Co-Founder and Director of the EMBRACE Program Madison, MS | UNC – Chapel Hill ‘17