From a very tender age, 32-year-old Devene Sutherland learnt the art of fortifying her mind with wholesome content, speaking life into her circumstances and putting in the work, so the successes she seeks can be manifested.
Her brain is wired to see no task as too great, but as elements that can be broken down and managed.
Not only is Sutherland a high school teacher and university lecturer, she is also a single mother of two boys, business owner, a dance instructor, a debate coach, drama coach, a motivational/public speaker and a recent graduate of the St Mary University, where she received her master of science degree.
“I manage my schedules daily by starting and ending the day with prayer, which has become a habit and a part of my lifestyle, exercising proper time management, discipline, and being consistent to the point that sleep has never been my best friend. I usually have a planner to track my day-to-day progress and see what I could accomplish and what I couldn’t get done, and push hard to get it done,” she noted.
Never off the Clock
Anyone who knows the work of a teacher understands that one is never truly off the clock, but Sutherland says her passion and her choice was influenced by a need to help students reach their full potential.
“Although my mother was not a teacher by profession, her calm demeanour and approach was one reason I wanted to go into the teaching profession. I remember I was sitting in a math class one day, and I didn’t understand the lesson. Given my history of being aggressive, many of my teachers were not fond of me. The teacher said I would never amount to anything, and that day I decided to become a teacher to have a positive impact on children’s lives.”
“My love for my students goes beyond the realms of the classroom. One can achieve the best results from students by being kind, caring, empathic, and passionate. These are the key ingredients that I believe every great teacher should possess.”
But how does she truly manage all she has on her plate?
“It can be a rather difficult task to juggle being a mother of two very active boys, being a teacher from 8 a.m. to 2:40 p.m., and being a lecturer from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., and trying to complete my thesis and completing orders. My business House of Deva Bandeau that specialises in hair accessories is known both locally and globally for its product durability and impeccable customer service. I consider myself extra blessed to have a stable and united family unit that comprises my mother, father, and brother.”
This family support, Sutherland says, is the reason for her very existence, as without it, she would have crumbled under pressure.
“Some nights I would cry as I was not able to pray with my children, help them with assignments, and tuck them into bed. Both of my parents, along with my brother, would help me these nights. I would ensure that I would stay up that said night to go through my son’s assignments and classwork thoroughly and wake him early in the mornings to make any necessary corrections. I am so blessed to have my mother help me with completing the orders. We work as a mother-and-daughter team. Had it not been for my mom, I don’t know what I would have done.”
As a human being, Sutherland said there were many times that she felt like giving up when the pressure consumed her, but she pressed on.
“There was one particular day, I broke down. I got wet in the rain and the only pair of shoes I had wearing every occasion for more than a year was soaked. I couldn’t afford to miss my tuition or my son’s tuition payment, so I sacrificed. As I was using the blow dryer to dry the shoes that night I cried out,” he said.
“My son said to me, ‘You are doing so good, Mommy. You can’t give up now’, and it dawned on me that I was doing an excellent job despite all I was doing.”
With a dream to opening her own literacy centre that will help children in and around her community become efficient readers and writers, Sutherland is also looking forward to writing her book and sharing her story of how she overcame the odds to living a happy life.
“… During my experience, many have done me wrong and hurt me. But, I realised if you do not love, you cannot forgive, and when you forgive someone, you can compromise, and the cycle begins again with love.”