New Degree Opportunities for Staff at Lake Marion Creek, McLaughlin Middle Schools

New Degree Opportunities for Staff at Lake Marion Creek, McLaughlin Middle Schools

Exterior photo of McLaughlin Middle campus

More Polk County Public Schools educators have opportunities to earn free degrees through partnerships with local universities.

Staff members at Lake Marion Creek Middle and McLaughlin Middle & Fine Arts Academy will soon be able to earn degrees in education at no cost thanks to a partnership with Florida Southern College.

In addition, teachers throughout the district can apply for a free master’s degree program through the University of South Florida.

At Lake Marion Creek Middle and McLaughlin Middle, employees — including teachers, paraeducators, and administrators — will be able to earn a bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate in education from FSC. Each school will have up to 30 staff members who can participate.

Classes will start this summer with a blend of online and face-to-face instruction that will take place at each middle school campus. PCPS will use federal funding to reimburse the cost of employees’ tuition as well as their books.

“This is an exciting opportunity for our educators to advance in their profession,” said Johna Jozwiak, principal at Lake Marion Creek Middle. “It will also help with recruiting and retaining staff.”

McLaughlin Middle Principal Donna Drisdom said the school’s employees have expressed strong interest in the degree program.

“This is a great opportunity for staff members who have contemplated furthering their education, but for some unforeseen circumstance have had that dream deferred,” she said. “This opportunity will build a stronger team of teachers, giving them resources and best practices that will carry over to classroom instruction.”

Yet another opportunity is open to all PCPS teachers and administrators through USF, which is offering the chance to earn master’s degrees in educational leadership at no cost.

There will be approximately 25 employees selected to take part in this USF program. Classes will begin in the fall and meet on Saturdays.

For more information, contact Cheryl Joe, senior director of professional learning, at or 863-647-4270, ext. 478.

A sign at Lake Marion Creek Middle