The SUNY Potsdam Alumni Association recently honored Rebecca Kraft Benjamin ’08 & ’09 with the 2018 Rising Star Award at the College’s Bicentennial Reunion Weekend.
The Rising Star Award is presented to an alum who has demonstrated outstanding professional achievement in the first decade following graduation. Benjamin was recognized for her outstanding accomplishments early in her career in the fields of music and literacy education.
About the recipient:
In only 10 years since graduating from SUNY Potsdam, Rebecca Kraft Benjamin ’08 & ’09 has become an accomplished teacher, musician and literacy scholar.
After earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from The Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam, she began her teaching career as a choral and general music teacher in the Hoosic Valley Central School District, where she stayed for three years. During this time, she noticed that her students not only had difficulty reading the sheet music, but also the lyrics to the songs. As a result of this discovery, Benjamin began researching education systems that utilized sound-print correspondence and pattern recognition, between learning to read language notation and musical notation. Her account of her transition from focusing on music to literacy was recently published in The American Organist magazine.
Since the onset of this transition, Benjamin has completed a master’s degree in literacy at the University at Albany, and is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in education theory and practice, with a specialization in language and literacies, also at UAlbany. She also serves as a literacy specialist and new student case manager for the Schenectady County School District.
Benjamin is actively involved with the education and research communities in New York’s Capital Region. She is currently the co-president of the Albany City Area Reading Council and a member of the New York State Reading Association. In 2017, she received the Richard Allington Research Grant for her proposal to work with student engagement and authentic writing at the elementary level. She presented a pilot study of this project at the New York State Reading Association Conference last November.
Though much of her focus in recent years has been dedicated to literacy, Benjamin is still involved with music and the arts. She has served as the organist at the Niskayuna Reformed Church for eight years, and often directs and accompanies community choirs and theatre groups in the Hudson Valley region. She plans to continue research in both literacy and music education going forward.
For more information about SUNY Potsdam’s Alumni Association, visit www.potsdam.edu/alumni.
Founded in 1816, The State University of New York at Potsdam is one of America’s first 50 colleges—and the oldest institution within SUNY. Now in its third century, SUNY Potsdam is distinguished by a legacy of pioneering programs and educational excellence. The College currently enrolls approximately 3,600 undergraduate and graduate students. Home to the world-renowned Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam is known for its challenging liberal arts and sciences core, distinction in teacher training and culture of creativity. To learn more, visit www.potsdam.edu.