By Cindy Adams


This spring, Bill Sutherland received the Empowering Administrator Award from Minnick’s accrediting body, VAISEF – Virginia Association of Independent Specialized Education Facilities.

The statewide award recognizes a facility administrator who demonstrates leadership, encourages creativity and innovation, and remains abreast of developments in the field of special education. It also acknowledges administrators who create a positive school culture, lead a program that prepares students for transition to their home school or post-secondary education and training and exemplifies commitment to their facility, staff, students, and stakeholders.

EnCircle’s Minnick School leadership team nominated Bill because of his immense passion for and unwavering commitment to providing rigorous and engaging Career and Technical Education (CTE) in the Minnick Schools.

"While I know that Bill's work to bring a CTE program to our schools puts us miles ahead of many other private day schools, the true reward of his work is the benefit to our students," said Ashley Wittl-Osborne, Director of Education at enCircle’s Minnick Schools. "Often, by the time a student walks through the doors of a Minnick School, they have been down a long road of twists and turns that leaves them disconnected from their communities and unsure of where they fit. Through community service projects and job placements, Bill is showing the students a path back to belonging and contributing to their communities."

Bill has been an educator for 40 years, starting at Narrows High School, then Grayson County High School for 14 years where he taught government and social science courses. He also coached several sports teams. In 1999, Bill returned to the school of his youth, Galax City Schools, and served as assistant principal, principal, CTE director and division director of testing over the course of 19 years. After retiring, Bill came to Minnick in 2018 as principal of the general program at Wytheville Minnick.

Derrick Spence, Assistant Director of Educational Services at enCircle’s Minnick Schools, has worked with Bill since 2009. He presented Bill’s award at VCASE’s Spring Conference.

"There is no finer example of a dedicated educator than Bill Sutherland," said Derrick. "He always puts students first. He cares deeply about those he interacts with each day, and he especially shines with those students who need the most help. Bill invests himself in their lives and sets high expectations for them. He always looks for innovative ways to provide them opportunities for success."

Bill has created such tremendous results in his CTE work that he will be moving into a new role as Supervisor of Career and Technical Education for enCircle’s Minnick Schools this summer.

Bill says that in this new role he plans to collaborate with staff at the various locations to further strengthen their resources in the community and will work closely with DARS (Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services) to find more ways to get older students out into the community so they can develop work skills. He also sees the public schools and community colleges as natural allies in this effort.

"I’m excited to build something that doesn’t exist," Bill said. "I want to build it right, so our students have opportunities and I want to institutionalize it, so it becomes a part of who we are at Minnick."