Whether Megan Miller is the teacher or the student, she loves feeding her passion for education.
The Gardner, Massachusetts, native graduated from the online Master of Education in Curriculum and Teaching program at Fitchburg State University in December 2019. Eighteen months earlier, Miller graduated from the M.Ed. Moderate Special Education hybrid program at Fitchburg State.
"I like to continue learning," she said. "I also wanted to set myself up for different career opportunities in the future should I choose not to be a classroom teacher anymore.
"I have at least 30 more years left before I retire. I also wanted to apply what I learned in the program to what I was doing in the classroom."
Miller is in her fifth year as a kindergarten teacher at Marlborough Public Schools in Marlborough, Massachusetts. The fully online format gave her the ability to enhance her teaching skills and knowledge while adding a second master's degree without sacrificing time to attend classes on campus.
"The online format is very flexible," she said. "Most of the due dates are pretty similar — they are every Sunday or every two weeks.
"I could fit school into my schedule when planning for my own classroom. It was easy to manage the planning. Although it was accelerated, the classwork was still very manageable."
The experience of taking online courses in the M.Ed. in Moderate Special Education program helped Miller prepare for the M.Ed. in Curriculum and Teaching program.
"When I enrolled in the first master's program, I didn't know where I was going to be teaching or where I'd be living," she said. "The fact that it was mostly online was important. I had to go to campus once every semester for the moderate special ed for a chunk of the courses."
Miller gained interest in a career in education while participating in a teacher assistant program with a kindergarten class for half a day each week during her senior year of high school.
"That solidified my grade-level interest," she said. "I liked seeing kids have the information click. I've always wanted to help students."
While earning a bachelor's degree in early childhood education, teaching and psychology from Bridgewater State University, Miller gained real-world experience as a substitute teacher at several school districts.
After completing her undergraduate work in 2014, she landed a position as a specialized instructional assistant at Lexington Public Schools. The following year, she had her own classroom at Marlborough Public Schools.
"I love teaching kindergarten," she said. "That was my dream job, and I got it right out of college, which was awesome."
SPED 8039: Differentiating Content Instruction was Miller's favorite course in the online M.Ed. in Curriculum and Teaching program curriculum.
"I also enjoyed the assessment courses, looking at different modes of assessment and how to use them in the classroom," she said. "It was beneficial to see what's out there for different assessments. As teachers, we are always pushed for assessments. A lot of them can be time consuming."
Miller has been able to apply the information and skills that she gained from the program in ways that support student learning and overall success.
"I looked at what I was using in my own classroom and got ideas from the professors and the other students and ways to streamline assessment and make it easier on myself," she said.
"The technology course was also beneficial — especially now with the online learning. A lot of my teammates in Marlborough are coming to me for help."
Falcon for Life
Miller had a lot of encouragement from her friends and family while earning both master's degrees at Fitchburg State.
"They were excited and supportive," she said.
Although Miller loves her current role, she would like to apply what she learned in both programs in different ways in the future.
"Down the line, I would like to be an instructional technologist and incorporate more technology into the classroom," she said.
Miller, who enjoys cooking and running, believes that organization is the most important key to success in an online degree program.
"Definitely plan your time," she said. "The courses are great and there's a lot of information, but you have to plan out when you're going to do the coursework and make sure you are able to fit everything in. The flexibility is nice."
Now, Miller can start chipping away at those 30 years or so until retirement. With two master's degrees in education under her belt, the sky is the limit.
"For now, I am anticipating teaching kindergarten," she said. "But both degrees will help open up career opportunities for me."
Learn more about the Fitchburg State online M.Ed. in Curriculum and Teaching program.
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