June Scobee Rodgers, Ph.D., founding chair of Challenger Center, is the widow of Challenger Space Shuttle Commander Richard “Dick” Scobee. In memory of the “Teacher in Space” mission, June founded Challenger Center for Space Science Education to foster a new generation of “star challengers” – young people who will reach for the stars no matter their circumstances.
Each year, Challenger Learning Centers worldwide engage hundreds of thousands of students and tens of thousands of teachers in dynamic, hands-on exploration and discovery opportunities that strengthen their knowledge in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
While best known for her tireless efforts on behalf of Challenger Center, June has also gained attention for her work as an author. The “Star Challengers” science adventure books for young readers were created to spark student interest in space and careers in science, engineering, and technology.
“Silver Linings” (published 2011) is the expanded story of her book about the triumph and legacy of the Challenger 7. More than the story of a ragged teenager who struggles to overcome adversity, it presents a historical overview of America’s leadership in space exploration and discovery.
June has been nationally recognized and honored with countless awards during her professional career, including the National Eagle Award, the Women’s International Center’s Living Legacy Award, the Spirit of Volunteerism, the National Space Club Educator Award, and the National Award for Excellence in Leadership. In 2015, June received the distinguished Alan Shepard Technology in Education Award, and in 2019, she received the Apollo 50th Education Award, saluting her pioneering work and dedication to motivate our future science, technology, engineering, and mathematics workforce.
June has appeared on numerous national television news and talk shows promoting innovative educational partnerships that help communities prepare to meet our nation’s education goals. She has been interviewed on CNN and Fox News, Good Morning America, Dateline NBC, 60 Minutes, and the recent Netflix Challenger documentary. Her story was also featured in various magazines including Woman’s Day, LIFE, Southern Living, and Guideposts magazines.
An active and prominent leader in education throughout her professional life, June holds a Ph.D. from Texas A&M University and an Honorary Doctor of Science Degree from the University of Leicester, England. She has been a classroom teacher and university professor, served as a consultant to local, state, and federal education agencies, and become a nationally recognized advocate for the advancement of science and math education. She is married to retired Lt. Gen. Don Rodgers, and together they have three married children and nine grandchildren.
Don’s son: Eric D. Rodgers
June’s two children: Kathie Scobee Fulgham, Lt. Gen. Richard W. Scobee
As an educator, June serves as a Founding Chairman of the Challenger Center, where each year hundreds of thousands of students participate in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) focused programs. June has appeared on numerous national television programs promoting innovative educational partnerships, and has served on the President’s National Advisory Council on Education. June is personally proud of the fact that she has taught in every grade-level classroom from kindergarten through college. In 2015, June received the distinguished Alan Shepard Technology in Education Award.
As an author, June has touched the lives of countless people through her heroic persistence during difficult times. June is the author of Silver Linings: My Life Before and After Challenger 7, in which she returns to the very public tragedy of the Challenger explosion. In addition to Silver Linings, June created the Star Challenger science adventure books for young readers to further spark students’ interest in science and math.
As a speaker, June has challenged thousands of people through her motivational and contagious personality. Providing the keynote speech for the National Prayer Breakfast Dinner and the Testimony to the President’s Commission to Moon, Mars, and Beyond, June speaks honestly and thoughtfully to each of her audiences. Her high demand speaking schedule takes her across the world, where she delivers spirited presentations on leadership, sparked with personal stories and humor.