Donna O'Donnell Figurski's Blog

It's All About Me!

Musings by Donna #32 Much Ado About School

On the eve before hundreds of teachers in my district twist their keys on their classroom doors – ready to begin another school year, I am having mixed feelings. No, I won’t miss jamming the snooze button on my alarm tomorrow morning at 5:45 a.m, trying to squeeze in another ten minutes of sleep. I am definitely not going to miss my hour-and-a-half + round trip commute or the ensuing traffic. I am missing, though, the fun of setting up my classroom, decorating bulletin boards, taping name tags on desks, passing out textbooks, and stacking them neatly on the desktops – all in anticipation of many smiling faces. I am missing the calls of teachers, “How was your summer?”  as we rush down the hallways in search of a missing textbook or dashing to the Xerox machine.

I have always loved the feeling of finally closing my classroom door after days and hours of preparation, knowing that I am ready for my new class, and waiting for them to arrive. I have loved that waiting feeling! That feeling of anticipation.  I have always wondered, too, if the kids were as excited as I was. Did they have trouble sleeping? I wondered if they would like me and all things third grade (or first grade – depending on the year.)

There are so many feelings mixed up with this beginning of the new year – the first of which I will not be a part of in nearly 30 years.

Next week when the doors open for the kids, I know I will miss the joy of that first morning – the first day – the newness of it all. Each year, for thirty years,  it has felt as though I were starting a new play. Just a teacher and her students … actors with our special parts.

For thirty years at 8:30, as the bell rang, I took center stage with my fellow teachers. I roamed through the groups of children lined up on the sidewalk outside the school door. I brandished my clipboard with my class list attached. As the children lined up, I would check off each name and gather them to me. We would live together – my twenty-six boys and girls – breathing the same air for the next 184 school days. As I called each name, I would size up these eight and nine-year-olds. And they would size me up, too. There would be shy ones like Mary and too-talkative ones like Tillie. There would be rambunctious Joes and cocky Janes. Kevin may be a teacher pleaser. Susie may need extra attention and encouragement, while Timmy might need to be reined in.

These kids come in all different shapes and sizes. They come in all different colors and nationalities. They come with their abilities and their needs … their strengths and their weaknesses. They come with a ready brain – like a sponge – with eagerness to learn … and they come with open hearts. And it was my job to fill their brains with knowledge and to fill their hearts with love and expectation. That was my job … for thirty years – and I did it well.

I no longer have a key to twist in the lock. I don’t have a clipboard with names of children to live and breathe with, but I do have the warm memories of more than four hundred children who have lived, loved, and learned in my classroom.

My key is now in the  hands of another teacher – a younger teacher – who will decorate her classroom, and stack the books, and brandish the clipboard as she prepares to take center stage with her new class. And I will miss all of that … as I sleep through the morning with no alarm set.

(Clip Art compliments of


September 1, 2011 - Posted by | Musings by Donna | , ,


  1. I loved your anecdotes about school when we were having dinner together. And I love your passion about teaching…

    Comment by betty | September 1, 2011 | Reply

    • Hi Betty,

      Yes, those stories kept us going – back then. The best were the ones at which we laughed. I miss having you here to tell them to. I already miss not having a ton of stories to tell at dinner. My passion for teaching is still strong. It always will be. But I have many passions and now my efforts are directed toward my writing and my jewelry design. Who knows where these wandering passions will take me next.

      Hugs, Donna

      Comment by donnaodonnellfigurski | September 1, 2011 | Reply

  2. Awww … 😦
    We need a sprinkling of some magic dust.

    Comment by How Sheen | September 1, 2011 | Reply

  3. Hi How Sheen,

    Thinking about the start-up of school will be interesting. It’s a mixture of happiness and uncertainty – I only hope not regret. Magic dust is very welcome.

    All best, Donna

    Comment by donnaodonnellfigurski | September 1, 2011 | Reply

  4. What a nice story – I really enjoy all of your writing, but this one really touches my heart. I can only imagine all the memories those 400 students have of YOU!! Thanks for sharing xoxo

    Comment by Kathy | September 1, 2011 | Reply

  5. WOW! Thanks Kathy! Thanks for letting me know. Sometimes I feel like I am writing in an empty box. So, it is really fun to hear what people think.

    I got through this day thinking about all the meetings and last minute things I would be dashing around to finish before the kids arrive next week. Next Tuesday will be a harder day. I know I made the right decision by retiring, but I will desperately miss the kids and my teaching.

    Comment by donnaodonnellfigurski | September 1, 2011 | Reply

  6. Bittersweet, isn’t it…

    Comment by Kathleen Richardson | September 2, 2011 | Reply

    • Bittersweet!
      Exactly, Kathleen! I was always afraid to permanently close my classroom door because I knew I could never go back. Are/were you a teacher? You seem to deeply understand. I am very passionate about my writing. I hope that that will take over my life … that … and jewelry design. We’ll see.

      Comment by donnaodonnellfigurski | September 2, 2011 | Reply

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