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Helping Public School Teachers Earn Free Master's Degree

Helping Public School Teachers Earn Free Master’s Degree

The Lockheed Martin/UCF Academy was developed to bolster STEM education and retaining current teachers while building the talent pipeline.

Spring 2020 | By Jalen Bass

Elementary school teacher Kimberly Rougeux ’01 ’19MEd had always wanted to earn a master’s degree. But as a full-time teacher and a busy parent, she struggled to find the time and resources. That all changed when the Lockheed Martin/UCF Academy allowed Rougeux, along with 97 other local public teachers, to earn her master’s degree for free.

The Lockheed Martin/UCF Academy developed the Master of Education in K–8 Mathematics and Science program, which is focused on bolstering STEM education and retaining current teachers while building the talent pipeline.

Last December, 20 Orange County Public School teachers became the first class to graduate with all costs covered.

A graduate shakes someone's hand as she crosses the stage.

Kimberly Rougeux ’01 ’19MEd was one of 20 OCPS teachers who graduated in December with a free Master’s in Education in K-8 Mathematics and Science from UCF.

“Lockheed Martin invests in master’s degrees for educators because we believe in the power of teachers to inspire the next generation of students who will become tomorrow’s engineers, scientists and technologists that’ll shape the future of our world for decades,” says Tom Mirek, vice president of engineering and technology at Lockheed Martin.

The program aims to facilitate Florida’s goal of increasing student math scores, a move that should prepare students for what is projected to be a 10 percent growth in STEM jobs nationally between 2018 and 2028.

As for Rougeux, a 17-year teaching veteran, she’s already seen an impact in how she teaches.

“A lot of what I learned 20 years ago is not relevant,” says Rougeux, who’s teaching her students to understand math rather than just memorize it. “There’s that aha! moment when they realize they understand the concept. I tell my students I don’t want you to have that moment in college. I want you to have that now.”

A group of students in white coats pose for a picture.

To be eligible for the program, teachers must teach in an elementary school or teach math or science in a middle school. Priority is given to those in Title I schools, which have high concentrations of underserved students, and who will commit to continue teaching for at least three years after earning their master’s degree. 

“Training high-quality math and science teachers is an investment in our instructors as well as [our] students for years to come.”
Barbara Jenkins ’83 ’86MEd ’96EdD, superintendent for Orange County Public Schools