Profile in Courage in Public Education: Emily McMason

stacked rocks on a mountain top with a sunset

Emily McMason, Evolving Parents

Submitted by the Olympia Education Foundation

After Wellesley College in Boston and Harvard University in Cambridge, Emily McMason decided to come home. As an undergraduate, she studied astronomy. She had always looked “to the stars,” and her parents in Olympia, Washington, encouraged her to “fly and think big.” 

Emily considers herself to be a scientist and her first college degree was in Physics. But sharing with others and wanting to give back to her community directed her to a master’s degree from Harvard University in Education. She then started teaching middle school science and working with families. Finally, post-graduate work with Seattle Pacific University certified her as a Parental Coach. 

And now she is home.

Emily teaches a series of local courses to parents who struggle with evolving parenthood. “I tell my parents that their parents did the best job possible given what they knew then. But parenting has changed. And together, we can do a better job for our children.” 

Her colleagues call her a “Wisdom Curator.”

Emily has a private family practice in Olympia. She contracts with the Olympia Educational Foundation to provide free seminars to parents of students from elementary school to high school. She is an adjunct professor at South Puget Sound Community College in Early Childhood. She teaches at the Olympia Hands-On Museum. Finally, she is available as a consultant/ professional development for K–12 teachers around the ESD 113 region. 

“At our first class, I give my parents a list of 30 topics that we can talk about over the course of a year. That gives them a huge level of ownership in what our courses will cover,” she said. “Typically, parents want to talk about big feelings, anxiety, anger, boundaries, and discipline. I try to meet the burning issues. The make-up of families has changed. I have older parents and very young parents. They all want to talk about how to raise healthy children. I take whoever walks in the room. Every class is different.”

Some of the most challenging work she does involves navigating crisis management, the courts, and Child Protective Services. According to Emily, COVID and the following months “wore families thin.” They are experiencing a lot more stress and anxiety. She tries to build community within her groups so families don’t feel alone.

Emily is a courageous teacher. She has identified a deep need in our community and is offering a wonderful service to our parents, students, and teachers. Please join us in thanking Emily for all of the children in our community. Congratulations to our February 2024 Profiles in Courage Award winner. 

Would you like to nominate someone for our Board of Directors to honor as a profile in courage?

  • Any employee, resident, volunteer, or student in one of the 44 school districts and one tribal school represented by Capital Region ESD 113 is eligible to submit candidates to Dale McDaniel for consideration.
  • Please keep submissions to 400 words or less. Photos are encouraged.
  • A small committee will review the applications. The Board Chair will read one selection each month prior to our Board meeting. In addition, that month’s submission will be prominently featured on our ESD 113 website.

Think about the heroes in your life who have done courageous things to support our students and staff members. We want to honor the wonderful role models who have been working in our public schools!