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Third in a series.
If you’re unfamiliar with the structure of Mahomet-Seymour School District 3, here is the Cliff’s Notes version:
All kindergarteners – and only kindergarteners — attend Middletown Prairie Elementary. All first- and second-graders – and only first- and second-graders – attend Sangamon Elementary.
So Sangamon principal Mark Cabutti is in charge of 454 kids in two grades, “and that’s pretty unique,” he said.
“I see some tremendous advantages to that in curriculum,” Cabutti said. “There’s a lot of focus on what emerging readers need, what math students need. From a curriculum standpoint, and staff development, we focus on what primary-age students need, which is wonderful.”
Sangamon has 10 teachers in each grade, with class sizes ranging from 21-22 in first grade to 23-24 in second grade.
Some other characteristics of Sangamon:
–Reading is a particular emphasis. “We throw a lot of our resource into literacy instruction,” Cabutti said. “We have three reading specialists that work with kiddos who need that extra boost. If they leave our building and they’re not reading where they need to be, the gap just grows every year.”
–Cabutti, who turns 58 in October, is retiring at the end of the school year. “I’ve been the principal here for 22 years. And that’s unusual. Most building principals don’t stay in one spot,” said Cabutti, who taught 10 years in Champaign Unit 4 before taking over at Sangamon. “I wanted to be a principal, and when I got the job here, I knew there was no better job for me than being right here at Sangamon School in Mahomet. The community is very supportive. I love the staff I work with; I work with an administration at the unit office that is very supportive.”
What will he miss most?
“The funny things that kids say and do. And a lot of them you can’t print. And I love the variety every day. Every day is different. Over the 22 years, I’ve always enjoyed the people I work with. I’ll miss them a lot.”
–In two years (fall of 2018), Sangamon and Middletown Prairie will be joined. The new Middletown building has been completed, and the new building housing the first- and second-graders will be attached, so the pre-K, kindergarten, first and second graders will be together for the first time.
–The staff is an interesting mix; Cabutti joins the music teacher as the only male members of the staff. “It’s a very female-dominated environment, and typically that’s what you find in first and second grade,” Cabutti said. “I love working with women. I love the passion to their jobs, I love what they do with kids.”