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F-M educators named to prestigious Master Teacher Program

Two members of the Fayetteville-Manlius School District have been named to the New York State Master Teacher Program.

On Sept. 27, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that J. Kathleen Benedict, a Fayetteville-Manlius High School science teacher, and Rachel Mason, a Fayetteville-Manlius High School math teacher, were both accepted into the four-year program. 

The Master Teacher program engages participants in peer mentoring and intensive content-oriented professional development opportunities, including regional cohort meetings in which the teachers participate in, and lead, several professional development sessions annually.

The state selected 228 educators representing 129 school districts to join the prestigious program. 

“I salute these brilliant and dedicated teachers who have made an incredible, lasting impact on New York’s future leaders,” Cuomo said in a news release. “These 228 new members of the Master Teacher Program will join the ranks of the state’s top educators, a group who strive every day to enrich and expand the horizons of countless students in every corner of the Empire State.”

In 2013, Cuomo, in partnership with The State University of New York and Math for America, created the Master Teacher Program. Through a rigorous application and selection process, the program highlights teachers across the state who are focused on continued growth in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education, according to the state’s Master Teacher website. The program develops teachers’ knowledge across three domains: content; pedagogy; and students, their families and their communities.

The Master Teacher Program is split into nine regions and hosted at a SUNY campus to leverage the expertise of the university’s faculty and existing educator preparation programs, according to the state. The Central New York Region, which includes F-M, is hosted at SUNY Cortland. 

Throughout their four-year participation in the program, Master Teachers:

  • Receive a $15,000 stipend annually;
  • Engage in peer mentoring and content-oriented professional development;
  • Work closely with pre-service and early career teachers to foster a supportive environment for the next generation of STEM teachers; and
  • Attend required regional meetings at their SUNY campus, participate in and lead several professional development sessions each year.

The F-M School District has nine other teachers recognized on the state’s list of Master Teachers, including three holding the title of Master Teacher Emeritus, meaning they have completed the program. 

  • Josh Buchman (Master Teacher Emeritus): Fayetteville-Manlius High School, science 
  • Lisa Geraci-Civiletto: Fayetteville Elementary School, math academic intervention services (AIS)
  • Ben Gnacik: Fayetteville-Manlius High School, science
  • Elaina Hajduk: Fayetteville-Manlius High School, math
  • Anne Kelley (Master Teacher Emeritus): Wellwood Middle School, grade 7 science
  • Nicholas Kirby: Eagle Hill Middle School, grade 7 science
  • Dina Kushnir (Master Teacher Emeritus): Fayetteville-Manlius High School, math
  • Andra Myers: Wellwood Middle School, grade 7 math
  • Wendy Blasland: Wellwood Middle School, grade 7 science