An interview with Steve Potter who is retiring after 23 years at Hazelwood Schools.

Celebrating the work of Steve Potter who is retiring after 48 years of service for Enfield council and 23 years at Hazelwood Schools.

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Steve is standing in front of a great backdrop painted by Peter Panye

Steve has worked at Hazelwood Schools for over 23 years. When he first joined the schools, they were two separate establishments, with a separate Infant and Junior Headteacher. When Steve was employed he replaced two full time caretakers.

Steve has spent 48 years working for Enfield Council. After leaving school he worked in the offices of Routes, a car company in Piccadilly. However he hated commuting and he started working with Enfield, initially in the parks department. Steve’s father had been a school caretaker at Oakwood School, which became Southgate lower school, so Steve has lived in tied housing since 1950. When his father retired Steve took over from him and when the Southgate Lower school site was sold he applied for the job at Hazelwood where he has been ever since.

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Steve standing outside his office, which is situated next to the path people take as they walk into Hazelwood.

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This is currently the caretaker’s house which as you can see, is attached to the Hazelwood school building.

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You can see from the notice board there is a lot going on at Hazelwood.

Steve feels the job has changed considerably since he first began it because education has changed. There are now a lot more adults involved in schools and of course there are computers and whiteboards in every classroom. There are also more activities available in school, breakfast club, after school club, Greek School and any number of other activities open to children and their parents. Parents have played a large part in the development of the gardens and playground at Hazelwood, changing it from plain tarmac into attractive wild life areas, teaching areas and play areas.

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An area which is used for teaching children about plants, the Growing corner.

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Some beautiful carving on the entrance to the wildlife garden.

Steve is a member of the PTA and works very closely with them, ensuring every activity which is planned, is discussed with him first, so everything can run smoothly and all resources are readily available on the given day. Steve has also become part of the famous Hazelwood Pantomime as the children like seeing familiar faces and as he always had to lock up after late rehearsals he might as well be in it! Liz Constantinides, a long serving governor at Hazelwood and a parent, said ‘Steve is always reliable, helpful and supportive of everything we try to do at Hazelwood, we will be very sorry to see him go but wish him a happy and much deserved retirement.”

The hardest part of the job has been moving heavy equipment, especially as he has got older, since the development of the children’s centre he now has a part time assistant, which has been a help. Also Steve’s hours have been long, school opens at 7 am every morning and he is also caretaker for Greek school, so his job has been a very busy one, working long days and 6 days a week until his assistant was appointed, he now only works every other Saturday.

Steve has really enjoyed being part of the community, as he says, getting involved is what makes the job enjoyable. He chats to everyone and everyone knows him. This has been the best part of his job. He says its ‘no good sitting in your office and ignoring people’. He thinks he will miss the social life and being part of the community when he retires but is looking forward to having the time to travel as widely as possible. He has always had to take his holidays during term time, a relief caretaker would then be brought in, as he was in charge of any builders on site during school holidays so always had to be around. There have been quite a few alterations to Hazelwood during the time he has been caretaker as the school has adapted it’s rather attractive buildings to better suit modern education purposes.

Steve really enjoyed working with an earlier Infant head, Peter Gordon and one of his favourite memories is when Peter got Steve to dress up as Cedric the Dragon, to celebrate the children raising over £1600 for NCH.

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We can see in the photo, from left to right, Max Goldbart, Peter Gordon, (infant head teacher, Steve dressed as Cedric, Helen Orr, deputy head teacher)

Steve talking about his working life.

This is one of Steve’s cherished memories of working with and for education in Enfield for many years. We wish him a happy, fulfilling retirement.

Jenny Bourke 10.3.15