Retiring St David’s High headteacher Wendy Sutherland has been reflecting on almost four decades in the profession.
Head at the Dalkeith school since 2009, Mrs Sutherland (59) began her career in 1980 teaching economics and business at Blackburn Academyand then Lochgelly High, Inveralmond Community High and West Calder High where she was deputy headteacher.
Ahead of finishing up on Friday, she said: “I have been a teacher for 37 years and having that opportunity to shape young people’s lives has been a real privilege. It has been a fantastic opportunity, there is no doubt about it.
“St David’s is like a big family, the staff have really worked well together, treated me very well and we have gone from strength to strength.
“The children, kids, young people are the same the world over, if you give them the opportunity to learn and encourage them to be successful then there is no end of possibly to what they can do.
“We are in an area of deprivation but we still believe that kids can do well if you encourage them and are ambitious for them. That’s what we try to do here.
“To see St David’s achieve the success it has in the last two or three years has been the biggest satisfaction for me.
‘‘To leave the school with the levels of attainment it has currently has been my biggest achievement – although, the real heroes are the teachers, I lead them but they are the ones who deliver in the classroom.”
Mrs Sutherland said she was surprised when she became a teacher.
She said: “I remember it like it was yesterday.
‘‘I had to pinch myself when I walked into the classroom because I didn’t believe I could be a teacher.
I do come from a family of teachers so it was in the blood.
I never thought for a minute that I would be a teacher. I wasn’t a particularly successful learner at school.
“I came into higher education after taking a year out. At the time I decided I wanted to be a chef and fell into higher education by accident.
“I found that not only did I enjoy it, but I was good at it.
‘‘I have met young people I taught years ago who tell me I had an influence on them.
‘‘It’s immensely satisfying to hear that. There aren’t any jobs where you get that much feel-good factor, building young people’s futures.”
Married to her quantity surveyor husband Duncan for 37 years, Mrs Sutherland hopes they can spend more time with him in retirement.
She said: “I’m looking forward to it very much so.
“I just had my left knee replaced and my right will be done in October. So in a year’s time who knows I might be running about the place, but at this time I just don’t know.
“It will be nice to catch up with friends and family.
“I don’t think people appreciate the sacrifice you make as a teacher, so it will be nice to have more time with the family.
‘‘It’s bittersweet – 37 years at the coal face is a long time.
‘‘ I will miss the kids and the staff, but it’s the right time for me.
‘‘I couldn’t have done this job without the support from my family, but Duncan in particular, he is my rock.”