Donna was born in Belleville, New Jersey on August 6, 1957, the youngest of six children, born to Edna and Henry Smith, Sr.
Donna grew up in Newark, New Jersey, graduating from Weequahic High School in 1975. After high school she attended the College of Saint Elizabeth in Convent Station NJ where she received a BA in Education. She began her teaching career at Saint Rocco Elementary School where she taught kindergarten for over 18 years. In 1996, she became a teacher at Washington Elementary School in Plainfield, NJ, where she was a kindergarten and first grade teacher. She retired from Jefferson Elementary School in Plainfield in December 2017.
Donna enjoyed laughing and making others laugh. She always had a smile on her face, a joke or funny story to share, and a positive fun-loving attitude. She had three passions; teaching, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.
Donna was born a teacher. As a child she would line up her dolls and stuffed animals and hold class. She wanted those toys to feel important and she had much to teach them. She was not a particularly good student and did not like school, as she was always challenging the teachers. But this is what made her such an exceptional teacher. She instinctively knew what students needed to engage them. Every moment was a teachable moment for her, even children who were not her students. We will all remember her “Warm Hands...Warm Hearts” program where she gave her kids three things she felt they needed…..hat and gloves, a special book, and to know someone cared about them. As one of her students wrote in a special poem, she was a “star polisher”….always looking for exciting ways to inspire her students and help them shine.
Donna’s second passion was traveling. Donna and her traveling buddy Cheryl were always up for a special trip and spent their summers traveling. Donna’s goal was to see the world. Their trip to South Africa was an experience of a lifetime.
Lastly, Donna enjoyed her friends and family. She cared a lot about them and would do anything to help them. She was always ready to plan a special party, a large cookout, or family trip. Kwanzaa was a particularly special holiday for her because it combined what she loved most, extending her Christmas celebration and celebrating with family and friends.
Donna was preceded in death by mother Edna Smith, father Henry Smith Sr. and brother Henry Smith Jr.
She leaves to cherish her memories four sisters Muriel Anderson, Carolyn Clark, Lena Dallas (Eric), and Cheryl Hills; one sister in law Pamela Smith; devoted
nieces and nephews Ronald Holley, Yolanda Holley, Chané Clark (Vincent), Lamar Smith, Kwame Smith (Lindsey), Shomari Smith, Rafee Smith (Rachel), Cassandra McClary (Alamin) Malika Berry (William) and a host of great nieces and nephews.
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