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2021 Special Education Administrator of the Year B
Bill Sachau mists a classroom with disinfectant at night at the San Benito COE Early Childhood Special Education Center. He said all staff took an active role in ensuring the site was safe for students during COVID-19.

Sachau does ‘whatever it takes’ for students

May 31, 2021
Name: William “Bill” Sachau, Jr. Award: Special Education Administrator of the Year Title: Director, Special Services, Early Childhood Special Education Center, San Benito COE ACSA highlights: member since 2009; president, San Benito County Educational Leaders (SBCEL), 2020 – Present; Vice President/Legislative Action, SBCEL, 2016–2020.
Were it not for a school custodian job he took right after college, Bill Sachau would not be where he is today: leading the delivery of special education services to preschool students in San Benito County.
Although he originally eyed a career in law enforcement, Sachau became an elementary school teacher. After 12 years in the classroom, he became an administrator, holding various positions before becoming director of special services at the Early Childhood Special Education Center in 2017.
Sachau is a strong proponent of professional development, for his staff and himself. When he realized he needed to learn about working with preschool age children, many of whom have extremely rare conditions, Sachau attended a variety of trainings to learn how to best support them. He is also a member of CCSESA’s Special Education Advisory Committee, which allows him to collaborate with state leaders to stay abreast of the latest laws, services, and appropriate supports for students.
Sachau’s motto to do “whatever it takes” to serve students is exemplified in his response to the pandemic. He communicated with his staff, parents and students to keep them well informed of the constant changes within the program. Many parents, even those with the most medically fragile students, have supported in-person instruction due to the safety measures he has put in place. Sachau also worked to provide his staff with hybrid teaching stations and ed tech professional development, which resulted in stronger teaching practices.
“Bill Sachau’ s attributes and accomplishments make him an excellent candidate to receive the honor of ACSA Special Education Administrator of the Year,” said Christine Lompa, San Benito County SELPA director. “They extend well beyond his interpersonal communication skills and his ability to lead. Bill is dedicated to public education and he understands the challenges. He recognizes that special education must strive to deliver appropriate services at the highest level to meet the needs of all children.”
What’s your favorite book or quote on leadership? My favorite quote is by the late General Norman Schwarzkopf. “Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy.” A person’s character is a great asset. It takes years to build and can take seconds to destroy.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given? The best advice shared with me was by a former administrator: “Never make a decision on Friday afternoon that will have repercussions on Monday morning.” This has resonated more than ever, especially during the pandemic. The dynamics and guidance are ever changing. Therefore, the importance of making thoughtful decisions and being responsive, not reactive, especially when the impacts are significant, is crucial.
What’s your best strategy for work/life balance? My first response would be family first. However, as an administrator, it is important to recognize that our role sometimes leads us to focus on work first. Time management and effective organizational skills provide a level of balance between work and your personal life.
What are some life hacks that you would recommend for a new administrator? Build relationships with all stakeholders. Remember their names and be sure to remind them how valuable they are to the organization, team and achieving department goals. Having strong individual characteristics such as integrity, loyalty, adaptability and dependability will help foster relationships and build trust.
What would people be surprised to learn about you? People may be surprised to know that when I moved to Hollister in 1996 after graduating from Fresno State, I started my career as a custodian at a local elementary school. I was in the process of pursuing a career in law enforcement. The job allowed me to volunteer at the Hollister Police Department during the day while I worked evenings. My exposure to the students as a custodian made me realize how much I enjoyed being around them. The relationships I built with the students and staff members inspired me to become a teacher. After developing the courage to speak with my site administrator, I asked her for her opinion and she gave me an overwhelming response of confidence that I would be an asset to the teaching field. My initial thought was to be an upper-grade teacher, but she thought I would be more impactful with the younger grades. Before you knew it, I was teaching in a first-grade classroom and working towards my multiple subject credential. After 12 years in the classroom, I began my career as an administrator and have worked in various administrative roles.
What made you want to become a school administrator? In 2008-09 I was asked if I wanted to attend ACSA’s Principals Academy. I had never thought of becoming an administrator until I participated in the Academy, which inspired me to pursue a career as an administrator.
How has ACSA supported you in your career/current position? ACSA is amazing! From the Principals Academy to the Special Education Academy to Legislative Action Days. All my experiences with ACSA have been fulfilling and supportive. The relationships that I have built over the years as an ACSA member are irreplaceable. The Special Education Academy was excellent. ACSA ensured that we had quality presenters on each meeting day. I strongly encourage all ACSA members to take advantage of the great Academies that are provided.
What has the impact of the COVID-19 worldwide health crisis taught you/how has it inspired you as an educator? My biggest lesson learned is that anything is possible. I have had the privilege of working with a determined group of administrators and staff that have continued to express the importance of in-person instruction.
The “can-do” attitude of every employee made a very difficult and challenging situation become manageable. All staff took an active role in ensuring our site was safe for our students to return. I have personally enjoyed checking our classrooms each morning to ensure they were properly cleaned and even helped by misting the classrooms each night before I left.
2021 Special Education Administrator of the Year Bill Sachau.
2021 Special Education Administrator of the Year Bill Sachau.
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