Featured here are my resume and student/faculty recommendations.

SARAH BENJAMIN

Atlanta, GA     (618) 521-7185    

sechic2009@gmail.com  website: sarahbenjamin.webs.com 

To work for the betterment of student musicianship, contributing to an organization's success through the use of my exceptional teaching, conducting, and managerial skills. 

Southern Illinois University; Carbondale, Illinois (SIUC) 

            Master in Music in Vocal Performance/Conducting, summa cum laude, May 2009

            Bachelor of Music in Music Education, magna cum laude

Eastern Illinois University; Charleston, Illinois   1985 – 1987

Completion of 60 credit hours towards Music Education major, awarded full four-year tuition and fees with vocal performance scholarship  


*   Head of Choral Department in Rockdale County, awarded Technology Teacher of the Year, Honor's Teacher, and launching a choir with students with special needs, at All-State and LGPE with all superior ratings, as well as the musical director of four musicals

  • Head of Choral Department at Batavia High Schools with a student body of over 2000, serving ten choirs including four co-curricular and six curricular choirs, as well as the musical
  • Head of Performing Arts Department and Choral Activities, Breck School; Musical Director/Conductor; managing staff and budget of 12 faculty
  • Head of Choral Activities/Vocal Conservatory, and Music Theory at Illinois Mathematics and  Science Academy (IMSA)
  • ISBE/Missouri Certified K-12 Public School Vocal/Instrumental Music Instructor
  • Sectional Rehearsal Leader and singer with the Chicago Chorale
  • SIUC Suzuki “Music In Motion” Theory Instructor
  • Co-launching and building of Alton High School Conservatory in Alton, Illinois High school student body population of 2,400
  • Head vocal instructor for Alton High School Conservatory
  • Conducted numerous university choral and wind ensemble works both in rehearsal and performance
  • Instructor of Music Appreciation at SIUC as graduate assistant of choral activities
  • 9 years choral conducting experience
  • 18 years of teaching, lifetime performance experience
  • Adjudicator of IHSA solo/ensemble and IMEA All-State competitions
  • SIU Fine Arts Committee board member
  • Secured departmental funding and chaired the collaborative effort between entities to engage an in-house choral clinic and concert performance from Joe Miller and the Westminster Choir College, Princeton NJ
  • Multiple orchestral, operatic and new music soloist experiences
  • Participated in Choral master classes with internationally renowned clinicians Jerry Blackstone, Maria Guinand, Brad Holmes, Joe Miller, and Sandra Snow


INTERPERSONAL AND TEAMWORK

  • Created and launched new course on Compositional Mixed Media at Breck School; team taught by Mr David Birrow and myself
  • Musical Director of Breck School Musicals
  • Curricular integration within the framework of collaboration with Suzuki director by composition and oversight responsibility of instructor lesson plans integrated into the master pedagogical theory
  • Head vocal instructor for IMSA and Alton High School Conservatory, supervising repertoire use and all recital details
  • Ability to interact with and maintain organization within an assemblage of a wide variety of personalities for the scheduling of lessons, coachings, master classes, rehearsals and recitals
  • Exceptional collaboration skills working with other  graduate assistants and professors in the areas of lecturing undergraduate courses, choral and wind ensemble conducting and vocal soloist opportunities in both masterworks/ opera
  • Ability to successfully manage multiple tasks in a pressured environment
  • Solid teaching,  performance, and administrative experience

 

ADMINISTRATIVE

  • Managed capital requests, billing and expense reports with account summaries for 11 Performing Arts Faculty at Breck School
  • Utilized Blackboard and Smartboard technologies in the classroom
  • Handled expense reports with account summaries in the private studio
  • Consistently entrusted with inventory and merchandise transfers
  • Managed inventory, ordering and accounts regarding all repertoire
  • Proficient in Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Word and Excel in word processing, spreadsheet, and graphic design applications including internal/external correspondence, reports, and presentations
  • Head of Choral Department at Salem High School; 2016-2018
  • Head of Choral Department at Batavia High School conducting ten choirs; 2014-15
  • Head of Fine Arts Department at Breck School; 2013 - 14
  • Head of Choral/Vocal department and Music Theory at IMSA, Aurora IL; 2009 - 12
  • Music Appreciation Lecturer, Department of Music; SIUC; 2007 –09
  • Conducting Assistant; Choral  Program; SIUC;  2007 – 2008
  • Theory Instructor; Suzuki “Music in Motion”; SIUC; 2006 – 2007
  • Co-Founder/Head Private Instructor; Alton High School Conservatory; Alton, Illinois;  2002 – 2004
  • (NASD) certified/registered Executive Sales Assistant; Alton Securities; Alton, Illinois;  2002 – 2004
  • Choral Sectional Leader; Asbury Seminary; Wilmore, KY; 1995 – 2000
  • Choir Director; Faith Christian Family Church; Rushville, Illinois; 1989 –1995
  • Private Voice Studio with freelance performances; 1989 – Present

News — February 20, 2014 at 10:27 am IMSA- Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, Pedagogy referencing Sarah Benjamin

Education Week published “STEM Academy’s Reach Spans Illinois,” an article written by Liana Heitin, a reporter who visited campus in late January, talked to students, and saw IMSA’s FUSION and Allies programs. The article focuses on IMSA and its statewide student and educator initiatives, discussing our legislative charges and how we’re fulfilling them. The article covers much of what we’re doing for state of Illinois, and includes bonus audio of four students discussing what inquiry-based learning means to them.

Recommendations from students: 

Yang-Yang Feng, IMSA Class of 2012, Yale

"There are a few basic qualities that every solid music teacher must have: a knowledge of one's instrument and of music in general, an understanding of pedagogical methods, and the ability to deliver instructions and criticism clearly and authoritatively. But sometimes being solid is not enough. To move students, to motivate them when they have little inner motivation, takes something more. While Mrs. Wiggins was clearly a solid choir instructor/voice teacher, as well as an amazing musician, she also had an inner fire within her that always pushes her students work harder; and she herself will never stop working hard. Balancing an impending wedding and out-of-school music endeavors, she still found the energy and time to make sure every detail in our choir productions was as clean as could be, to spend time at night to help her pupils. Mrs. Wiggins cares so much about music and her students that it is impossible to not be inspired working with her. She is a phenomenal voice teacher and mentor. I came to know her very well as a choir director, private voice teacher, and friend, and so I can speak for her musical and personal qualities in general, but I will focus on her abilities as a private teacher in this review. Sarah is incredibly caring, musical, and exceedingly intelligent. She has such a vast understanding of the voice and of music in general. When I started with her, I was struggling to sing with a lifted, balanced tone. After merely a few months of work, I already had improved so much technically, but also felt I had gained an intellectual understanding of the vocal mechanics she taught me. She understood my voice and my musical interests, and used this to personalize the lesson, which I believe was a large part of what helped me learn so quickly. What distinguishes, Sarah, however, is her ability to make her students want to improve. She pushed me to learn a new song each week, while also working on my basic technique. Despite the intense expectations, I never felt overworked. I wanted to work hard because I saw how much energy she put into the lesson each week. I wanted to sing the songs she assigned because she always took my interests into consideration. To summarize, Sarah is exceptionally capable as a singer and is an incredibly powerful motivator. Over the past four years, I have had a number of other voice teachers. Two attended the Yale School of Music and are now professional opera singers, one is a voice professor at Yale, and the other is a voice professor at Illinois Wesleyan University. Sarah has helped me grow more as a singer than any of these other teachers, and I recommend her without any reservation." Yang-Yang Feng, Yale


Arjun Tambe, IMSA Class of 2013:

Mrs. Benjamin was more than a director to many of us. IMSA is an extremely stressful environment, and she understood what students go through. She could tell when our sound was bad because we were inundated with papers, projects, and assessments, and she would often make sacrifices on her own part to accommodate us. While taking private lessons with Mrs. Benjamin, I learned how to create musical phrases and how to control my voice better. I realized how much my sound improves if I just listen to myself when I am singing, and I was taught vocal exercises and warm-ups. Most importantly, however, Mrs. Benjamin showed me that there is more to performing a song than singing the right notes. Although Mrs. Benjamin was only at IMSA for three years, I know that I and my fellow singers will take what we learned during our time with her and apply it as we continue to sing in the future.


Dharti Shah, IMSA Class of 2012, presently at Saint Louis University:

I had been involved with choir prior to Mrs. Benjamin’s addition to the department, and can vouch that she is an amazing educator and woman. Never was she deterred by her environment and in no sooner than a few days, a notable progress could be seen in all of her students. She led us with such ferocious tenacity that one need only be in her presence for it to rub off. She instilled passion and drive in her students by helping them tap into their potential. She made the choir one of an encouraging, familial quality. All of the stresses and burdens of school and life were washed away in her classroom—for an hour a day we got to be nothing but singers.

I not only learned my basics of music theory and mechanics from Mrs. Benjamin, but from her I learned compassion, expression, and courage. Mrs. Benjamin takes her role as an educator seriously—she is present in her students’ lives and cares deeply for them. Mrs. Benjamin has an incredible aptitude and vivacity that is unmatched by any other. To this day, she has been one of the most influential figures in my life. I can always count on her encouragement and wisdom when I am in need. Before I met Mrs. Benjamin, I was just a girl who liked to sing. After her instruction, I became a more refined singer charged with passion and courage to take the world, and stage, by storm.


Dr. Maxwell McGee, IMSA Acting President

It is both with the most sincere, energetic enthusiasm and deepest regret that I am writing this letter of recommendation for Ms. Sarah Benjamin. Having served as a principal for six years and a superintendent/academy president for twenty-five, I have worked with dozens of vocal and instrumental music teachers. Without a doubt, Sarah as one of the very best. During our three years together at IMSA, I have seen her truly transform not just our music programs but IMSA’s culture. When I arrive at IMSA, vocal music was an institutional afterthought. When I hired Sarah, I had high expectations and higher hopes, but she has far surpassed these. Her extraordinary professional knowledge and ability, her exemplary passion and compassion for both our students and the arts, and her remarkable interpersonal and collaborative skills have made the fine arts and vocal music an integral, respected, and beloved element of IMSA. 

Under her leadership, the entire music program has grown and flourished. Every year our choir has increased in numbers and their ability has improved exponentially. As President of the Academy, I have several demands on my time, but I never miss a vocal music concert. Moreover, I have heard her lead inspiring performances in Elgin for Martin Luther King Day, celebrated with the Madrigal dinners, seen visiting legislators spontaneously leap to their feet to applaud a song and been thrilled with feedback we receive from concerts our students gave at the Art Institute. In every instance, the audiences are always enthusiastically appreciative and want to hear more.

Sarah has excelled because she perfectly balances high standards and structure with warmth, nurturing and responsiveness. Students work hard for her because she works hard to understand and connect with each individual while simultaneously building a cohesive, caring ensemble. Moreover, she has become a respected faculty leader for her abilities to work with students who are gifted vocalists as well as with those who are raw beginners. She is able to personalize and differentiate her work yet can still blend these different voices into a melodious, harmonious choir.

Finally, Sarah has an incredible work ethic, is a model of both integrity and humility, and is also a lot of fun. She lifts us all, and she will be deeply missed. Clearly, Ms. Sarah Benjamin merits my strongest recommendation for a position in your district. As she has at IMSA, she will make countless contributions and bring out the best in her students and your staff.

Sincerely,

Glenn W. “Max” McGee, President