Galax principal moving to new role

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GHS Principal Bill Sutherland is taking a new position in central office, where he will oversee testing and teacher evaluation.

By April Wright, Reporter

Galax High School Principal Bill Sutherland has resigned from his position, effective June 30, to take on a new job with Galax City Public Schools that was recently created through federal stimulus funds.
Sutherland will become the coordinator for testing and assessment, effective July 1, and will move over to the Galax School Board office. The new position was created through the education “Jobs Bill” stimulus package.
Sutherland will be in charge of data collection; review of student testing and evaluation of teachers in Galax schools.

Galax City Schools Superintendent Bill Sturgill asked Sutherland to take the new position, saying that he is talented in data collection and organization.
“I felt that this is just as good as any time to take on a new role,” said Sutherland. “I will miss all the things I do here and the real connection of feeling the success of the students’ achievements. But, I’m looking forward to this position, as well.”
Sturgill said the new position comes as a result of government mandates, which will require by 2014 that schools have in place a student growth model for student and teacher evaluations.
Students will be evaluated through multiple measures to gain a “clear picture of the programs that the schools have in place,” said Sturgill. “The knowledge we gain from this will help drive instruction.”
Until this position was created, teacher evaluations have never been tied to student performance and growth.
“Before, administrators were a part of the evaluation process and was more subjective,” said Sturgill. “The state is implementing that evaluations be more objective, in which evaluations will look at the growth of students throughout the year.”
The stimulus package allows funding for only one-year positions.
 However, next budget year, “we will look at where we are and will see how [the position] fits in.”
Sutherland has worked in public education for 28 years as a social studies teacher and administrator. He has served Galax schools for 12 years — one year as a teacher and 11 as administrator.
He has been assistant principal at GHS since 2004 and became principal in 2009 when Sturgill, former GHS principal, replaced Sam Cook, who retired, as schools’ superintendent.
“We’re very excited about the new position,” said Sturgill. “It’ll validate instructional programs that we have in place, and the ones that are not as effective will be revamped.”