Donna O'Donnell Figurski's Blog

It's All About Me!

Musings by Donna #33 School Started Without Me

School started without me. I slept right through the 5:45 alarm, which I didn’t set. The kids with their shiny, smiley faces, their brand new outfits, their knapsacks laden with fancy pencils, erasers, sharpeners, crayons, clipboards, white boards,  journals, and any number of other supplies their teachers requested, waited on-line outside the school entrance, but I was not with them. I was not with them as they stood in the drizzle laughing and chattering to mask their nervousness of beginning a new school year. I was not the one to throw open the doors when the 8:30 bell rang and welcome each child back. I was not with them as they hugged their moms or dads goodbye, then marched through the door with a final wave. I was not with them as they explored their new classroom, as they found their desks, or as they hung their jackets on their coat room hooks.  No, I was not there, not in their classroom, but I was with them … in my head and in my heart.

I saw them fingering their new textbooks – blues and yellows and purples. I saw the awe in their eyes as they picked them up and felt the heaviness of those books. I saw them peek inside … eager to know what was in store for them in their new third grade. I saw their eyes grow bigger as they carefully opened their handwriting workbooks. It was cursive – no more baby printing. Third graders love cursive writing, at least in the beginning of the year. It’s so new – it’s magical. No, I was not there, not in their classroom, but I was with them … in my head and in my heart.

I heard them whispering as they gathered on the floor ready for their first math lesson. I heard them wiggling as they stole peeks at the clock as the minutes drew nearer to lunch time. I heard the 11:30 lunch bell. I heard their laughter and their chatter as they straddled the benches in the  lunchroom chomping on sandwiches, trading cookies, spilling milk or juice. I heard their voices calling to each other on the play yard as they played tag or shared their fears about this new third grade – so much work. No, I was not there, not in their classroom, but I was with them … in my head and in my heart.

At the end of the day, I felt happy and satisfied and wistful and tired, too. The day had gone well. Sadness crept in as my new charges prepared to leave at 3:00, but with giggles they promised to return in the morning. I smiled as I heard, “She’s so funny. She’s the best teacher I ever had. (Knowing they said those same words for their 2nd, 1st, and Kindergarten teachers, too.) No, I was not really with them on that first-day-of-school when they began third grade this year. I was not really in their classroom, but I was with them … in my head and in my heart.

(Clip Art compliments of

(Clip Art compliments of Discovery Education.)

(Clip Art compliments of A Kids Heart.)


September 9, 2011 - Posted by | Musings by Donna, On School | , , , ,


  1. Bittersweet! I know how much you loved teaching!

    Comment by Sanner | September 10, 2011 | Reply

    • San, it still feels like I am on summer. So I don’t think it had entirely hit me yet.

      Comment by donnaodonnellfigurski | September 13, 2011 | Reply

  2. Now it’s your turn, Donna. Can’t wait to see what you decide to learn, for yourself. Retirement is great, one day at a time.

    Comment by Kathleen Richardson | September 11, 2011 | Reply

  3. Hi Kathleen,

    Well one thing I am learning is the jewelry business. I spent 2 1/2 hours with your friend, Ann, a few weeks ago discussing jewelry techniques. She does beautiful work and she was so willing to share her knowledge with me.

    The other thing is since I just bought a new Mac Air computer, I started taking classes once a week at the Apple store to learn more about this computer. I have also joined a book group. I am looking into a few other things too. We’ll see if they pan out. In the meantime, I will continue to work on my book.

    It sounds like you have retired, too. Any good advice to offer?

    Comment by donnaodonnellfigurski | September 13, 2011 | Reply

  4. Donna,

    Learning has a new purpose in retirement, I think. Learn what you want, when you want, whether or not you need to know it! Just because. Quit when you want and move on to something else. Retirement is like a great big buffet… so yummy and I intend to eventually taste every dish! Sounds like you’re working your way through the appetizers.

    Comment by Kathleen Richardson | September 14, 2011 | Reply

    • Kathleen, I am definitely on my way. Went to my first book discussion group today. We read and discussed Sarah’s Key. In November we will discuss Still Alice by Lisa Genova. If you like to read, that book was good. I already read it. I will read her new one about TBI soon – as soon as I get it from the library. It’s called Left Neglected. I want to know how it will compare to the book about TBI that I am writing.

      With not having my regular school schedule, I have more time to travel. Looks like we will be passing through Corning again in November – on our way to Erie.

      So what have you tasted in retirement and what is on your plate?

      Comment by donnaodonnellfigurski | September 15, 2011 | Reply

  5. Donna, Sarah’s Key was excellent. I read it several years ago. Thanks for the Lisa Genova recommendations; I’ll look for them.

    Will you and yours have time for a quick stop–coffee/lunch–in Corning? Maybe we can get Ann or her mother Patricia ( to join us.

    Always, some kind of volunteering. Right now, committee work for United Way. Took Wilton cake decorating courses (20+ hours). A short stint with a photo group at the Senior Center. Taught myself to make aprons from used clothes. Marble magnets (found the idea on a blog). Casino trips (once a month, or less). And, of course, for the past year, my photo blog ( and my family–local and away. The most recent endeavors? Going through everything and pulling out stuff for a fall yard sale. Plus, I bought a new printer with a scanner and am scanning everything pre-computer; will eventually save on DVDs and give to family members. The scanning will be an all-winter project.

    Comment by Kathleen Richardson | September 15, 2011 | Reply

    • Kathleen, you are way busy – doing a lot of fun things.

      I am hoping to scan photos today. That is a huge job. Last year I scanned photos of my daughter’s first year. Then I made a photo book for her. I loved it. She loved it. I want to start from the beginning of my marriage and do all of the photos, but scanning 40+ years of photos will take me a lifetime. I guess I better get started.

      I just started to read Lisa Neglected today. It’s an easy read. I think it’s going to be good.

      If I can plan my trip well enough and don’t get in too late, I would love to meet you, Ann, and her mother for coffee. We’ll keep in touch. I will know more plans later.

      Comment by donnaodonnellfigurski | September 17, 2011 | Reply

  6. As if I didn’t have enough to do, Donna, I’ve started a second blog and want to invite you to view it…

    Comment by Kathleen Richardson | September 17, 2011 | Reply

    • Kathleen, sorry I forgot to reply to this. I have been to your new kitchen blog several times. It’s really nice. I love the pictures you add to it and the step-by-step directions.
      Looking for a new recipe now. Guess I’ll wander over.

      Comment by Donna O'Donnell Figurski | October 9, 2011 | Reply

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