Who is Bill Sawyer?


Photo credit: Marilyn Billings

Georgia Casavant, Writer

Have you seen this friendly face around Bellows Free Academy? Bill Sawyer is a retired Senior Special Agent for the U.S. Customs Service and also a retired military police lieutenant.  He resides in St. Albans, Vt. and has been giving back to the community for the past sixteen years as a substitute teacher. In 2005, Sawyer began substitute teaching at BFA St. Albans and has been enjoying it each year since.  

When asked what draws him back to BFA each year, Sawyer said, “I just enjoy the kids.”  He added that, “He gets his energy from [the kids]” and made a point to say, “Every once in a while…I actually learn something.” 

Obviously, this year has posed many unprecedented challenges. Students learning remotely has significantly impacted the classroom atmosphere. Sawyer noted that with smaller class sizes and new regulations, things around BFA have been a lot “quieter” lately. 

When asked if there were any downsides of his job, Sawyer responded, “There aren’t many.” However, he did recognize that sometimes he feels restricted in the ways he can help students with emotional and physical difficulties being a substitute teacher and not a guidance counselor. Sawyer stated that, “It makes [him] sad to see any student having problems.”

 A piece of advice that Sawyer wishes he could stress to every student he interacts with is to “Show respect to everybody around you, and if you don’t enjoy a subject that you’re in a class for, or you don’t like the teacher, just step up and deal with it; make the best out of it.”

Sawyer has left an impact on many BFA students. Emily Casavant (’15) said, “Mr. Sawyer always had a smile on his face, and he always made sure to ask how I was doing.”  Likewise, Ashley Seymour (‘22) said, “Mr. Sawyer always makes class interesting. Instead of just making sure we’re all behaving like most substitute teachers do, he interacts with us, helps us with our work and is always willing to share a story.”

BFA students are very lucky to have a substitute teacher and prominent community member as passionate about education as Bill Sawyer.  Sawyer had one more piece of advice to share:  always remember to “learn what [your teachers] are teaching you because who knows what you might need later on in life.”