Alumni Educator Awards

In 1839, Massachusetts became the first state to recognize the importance of teacher preparation programs with the establishment of normal schools that were free of charge to students who committed to teaching in the Commonwealth’s schools. These institutions that were designed specifically to educate school teachers have grown to become comprehensive state universities. Today, our nine member institutions educate students in multiple disciplines beyond education from business, humanities and social sciences, to natural, formal and applied sciences. Even with this expanded mission, our State Universities continue to educate over one-third of public school teachers in Massachusetts.

Each year the State Universities of Massachusetts recognize nine of the Commonwealth’s outstanding educators who graduated from the system’s teacher preparation programs. Educators are recognized for their teaching excellence, especially in the face of challenging situations, as well as their contributions to the communities in which they live and work.

Megan Steiger - 2024 Recipient

Megan Steiger is the epitome of an educator and leader that embraces all learners.  She graduated from Fitchburg State University with a BSE Degree in Special Education and Elementary Education and a Master’s in Special Education. She currently works in a double co-taught classroom with English Language Learners and students on Individualized Education Plans in Millbury.

Megan Steiger at Nambale Magnet School in Africa

In 2019, Megan traveled to the Nambale Magnet School (NMS) in Kenya as an undergraduate student. During her time there, Megan fell in love with the school and the children it serves. Immediately following her trip, Megan became a board member of the Cornerstone Project, a charitable foundation that strives to transform and sustain marginalized communities.

In 2023, Megan was approached to replace the retiring chairperson and she gladly took on this vast responsibility. She is currently working to train teachers at the NMS so that they can bring experiences grounded in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to the learners at the school. Megan leads fundraising efforts and continually looks for sponsors, grants/programs that would assist in supporting the changes in the Kenyan curriculum. Megan’s passion for teaching and her strong commitment to providing quality education for all children demonstrates the type of educators and leaders we are proud to recognize.

Sarah Doyle - 2019 Recipient

Sarah Doyle Special Education Alumni Award Recipient

Sarah Doyle graduated from Fitchburg State University in 2016 with a degree in Special Education: Severe Disabilities and Elementary Education. She also obtained her master’s degree in the winter of 2018, graduating with her Professional License in Severe Special Education. Sarah has been working at FLLAC Educational Collaborative since 2016, where she teaches 14-18 year old, high school students who are diagnosed with a range of developmental delays.

Sarah has been a member of Fitchburg State’s Xi Psi Chapter in Kappa Delta Phi since 2014, and as part of this chapter in 2016 she was the director of the Central Mass Special Olympics Day Games at Fitchburg State University. Sarah is a strong liaison for her students and continually seeks ways to include them in all aspects the high school experience. She has mentored many student teachers, modeling quality teaching strategies for our teacher candidates as well sharing her passion for the field of special education. Sarah is truly a leader and advocate for students with special needs.

Karla Belliveau - 2018 Recipient

Karla Belliveau is an extraordinary person and educator. She is also a two time graduate of Fitchburg State University with both a bachelor’s degree (2007) and master’s degree (2010) in education in the area of severe disabilities. Karla was an exemplary student, graduating Summa cum Laude and receiving the William J. Goldman Award in Special Education. 

Karla’s commitment to ensuring that students with severe and multiple disabilities receive an optimal education began long before her enrollment at Fitchburg State. Karla worked as a paraprofessional for many years before coming to higher education. Her direct work with students with multiple disabilities and those on the Autism spectrum gave her both the passion and experience that has served as a solid foundation for her extraordinary work as an educator. 

Current Fitchburg State students and faculty have been fortunate to work with Karla in her classroom in Millbury Public Schools. Karla serves as an exceptional Supervising Practitioner for students in the Fitchburg State severe disabilities program and has been sought out as a mentor for recent graduates. Karla’s effectiveness as a teacher of a small population of students with extraordinary needs is immediately recognized by anyone who comes in contact with her. Karla is an adjunct faculty member as well.

If her exceptional work with students with severe disabilities and their families was not enough, Karla served in United States Air Force as a Telecommunications Operations Specialist with Top Secret Clearance. After receiving an Honorable Discharge, Karla joined the Massachusetts Air National Guard. Since June 2005, Karla has been the Superintendent of Nursing Services at the Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield, Massachusetts. She has received countless Military Awards and is currently deployed in the Aerospace Medical Services. Karla has built on her extensive leadership training in the Air Force and National Guard in her role as a collaborative educator and teacher of students with severe disabilities.