June 9, 2022

On May 20, 38 staff from The New England Center for Children (NECC) received their Master of Science in Education with an autism specialization designation degree from Simmons University during their 2022 Commencement ceremony at the Leader Bank Pavilion in Boston’s Seaport district. During the ceremony, several NECC/Simmons graduates were also recognized with special awards for their exceptional work in the graduate program.

“We are so proud of our staff who have completed their degrees from Simmons this academic year,” said Chris Evans, associate professor of practice and the graduate program director for Simmons University at NECC. “They completed their degrees while working tirelessly for their students amid a pandemic and workforce shortage. Their fortitude and determination are admirable, and further exemplifies the positive impact they will each have in the field of special education and teaching.” 

Shaye VanDyne, an Intensive Instruction Program (IIP) teacher, won the Kennedy Award. According to Simmons, the Kennedy Award is presented “in recognition for leadership with children with disabilities and their families, the ability to make a difference in people’s lives, the ability to enhance Simmons’ leadership and example in special education, and demonstration of academic excellence.”

Six NECC/Simmons graduates were also recognized with the Autism Specialization Award:

  • Shauna Collins (IIP)
  • Amanda Cunningham (IIP)
  • Isabelle Cunningham (Francine Road)
  • Lexi Gamache (Public School Services, Derry)
  • Daniel Li (IIP)
  • Stacie Powers (IIP)

The Autism Specialization Award is presented to teacher candidates who demonstrate exemplary teaching skills with the ability to successfully differentiate instruction for diverse learners with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The recipients of this award possess a talent for designing and implementing individualized academic and behavioral programs, utilizing principles of applied behavior analysis and evidence-based practices.

Those NECC staff who graduated from the Simmons University program include:

Charlotte Austin

Serena Benages

Hollie Bevis

Marisa Chambers

Shauna Collins

Megan Cooke

John Cooper

Vanessa Cruz

Amanda Cunningham

Isabelle Cunningham

Erin Dyer

Samantha Dykes

Alexa Gamache

Samantha Higgins

Nevson Kanengoni

Emily Kattau-Cooper

Sasha Kotsopoulos

Chloe Lamb

Daniel Li

Yadira Licona

Ryan McCue

Nora McElduff

Cailin McMahon

Katherine O’Leary

Leonardo Orlando

Rachel Pepe

Jacquelyn Pisecco

Stacie Powers

Abigail Purdy

Madison Ranno

Zachary Schulman

Claire Seifert

Sloane Smith

Eric Studenski

Amanda Szidat

Shaye VanDyne

Heidi Voss

Callie Wilhelmi

NECC supports the professional development and education of its employees. Full-time staff are afforded the opportunity to further their educational goals through the master’s, doctorate, and other degree programs. Since the early 1990s, NECC has graduated more than 1,500 BCBAs and special education teachers through graduate training partnerships with Simmons University and Western New England University. For more information, visit the program page.