Northgate Primary School nursery teacher Jane Curtis retiring after 32 years looking after hundreds of children
A nursery worker at a Bishop's Stortford school retires on Wednesday (March 24) after caring for hundreds of children over three decades – including three of her fellow teachers when they were little girls!
Jane Curtis, 61, has spent her entire career nurturing little ones, from welcoming newborns at Herts and Essex Hospital's former maternity unit to 32 years as Northgate Primary's nursery nurse, and is now looking forward to spending more time with her two-year-old twin granddaughters, Lizzie and Grace.
When Jane joined the school in Cricketfield Lane in 1989, the nursery inhabited a room at the cricket club opposite. It then moved into a mobile building on the school site and later, when the primary was expanded, became part of the main building.
She has stayed teaching within the nursery throughout and currently looks after 36 pre-schoolers, including the children of teaching staff.
"I had my own children, two sons, and when they got to school age I decided to look for something with school holidays and that's when I applied for the job at Northgate," said Jane.
"I've always worked in nursery here, but did accompany the Year 6s on their school journey to the Isle of Wight for about 11 years, so I did expand my knowledge with the older children!
"You have to want to work with the little children, it's quite a vocation.
"I still get a lot of 'hellos' from former pupils, and the ones I started with are now about 34 and I still get a 'Hello, Mrs Curtis' if I'm noticed in the town, which is lovely.
"I also have some children in nursery of the children I looked after, which is when I thought it was time to retire. I also looked after children who are now teachers – Emma Crowe, Becky Stott and Emily Kavanagh."
Jane added: "I've loved my time here. It always fitted in with my life as I've gone along.
"I've seen a lot of changes in the school since I started – it was a one-form entry and now is a two-form entry so it's much bigger, and the nursery used to be mornings only. I first came when Mrs [Deirdre] Glasgow was head teacher and now it's Mrs Tanner."
Her favourite memories are of the nursery Nativity plays. "They're always fun, but I have to say I'm looking forward to seeing a performance from the spectator's view rather than crawling around at the back of the stage."
The coronavirus pandemic brought a few changes, with online home-schooling activities offered to some nursery pupils, but for the majority of the time, work for Mrs Curtis has continued.
"During the first lockdown the nursery shut completely and I worked with key worker children. This time, the nursery has stayed open so we've had more normality than the rest of the school."
Born and bred in Bishop's Stortford, Mrs Curtis's father and grandfather ran Bennetts the grocer's, formerly in Apton Road. She attended St Michael's Primary – where she sent her sons, Andrew and David – and then the former Margaret Dane School, now Birchwood High. She went on to gain nursery qualifications at Hertford Regional College in Ware.
She lives with husband Russell in Beechlands and said retirement would enable them to spend more time on their narrow boat.
"I'm going to enjoy having my holidays out of school holidays and just being able to go away when the weather is nice rather than when we have to. We can be a bit freer. And I've got my two granddaughters to spend more time with."