Finding Mrs. WarneckeThe Difference Teachers Make
Finding Mrs. Warnecke tells the inspiring story of Cindi Rigsbee, a three-time Teacher of the Year, and Barbara Warnecke, the first-grade teacher who had a profound and lasting impact on Cindi's life. Cindi, an insecure child who craved positive attention, started her first-grade year with a teacher who was emotionally abusive and played favorites in the classroom. Two months into the school year, her principal came into the classroom and announced that half the students were being moved to another classroom--a dank, windowless basement room, with a young and inexperienced teacher. This change turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to Cindi. Her new teacher, Mrs. Warnecke, made learning come alive for her students. She went overboard caring for each child, made her classroom "magical," and encouraged students to pursue their dreams. Although Cindi was reluctant to explore her creativity as a student, Mrs. Warnecke encouraged her to read and write poetry, which became a lifelong passion. The two kept in touch for several years but lost track of each other when Mrs. Warnecke moved out of state. Cindi spent many years trying to reconnect so she could thank Mrs. Warnecke for making such a difference in her life, but to no avail. Eventually Cindi became a teacher herself, and thirty years later she has taught more than 2,000 children and been named Teacher of the Year for her home state. She later came to realize that all those years she wasn't really trying to track down Barbara Warnecke, but rather, she was trying to "find Mrs. Warnecke" within herself. In Fall 2008 Cindi and Barbara were reunited on Good Morning America; the show's producers had tracked Barbara down and brought both women on-set for a tearful reunion. Barbara was floored at this attention--she had no idea she could have made such an impact on a former student's life. As Cindi travels around talking with new and veteran educators, she is always approached by audience members who are moved to tears and want to share the story of the "Mrs. Warnecke" in their own lives. Finding Mrs. Warnecke not only tells the story of this teacher who made a lifelong impact on her students, it illustrates the importance of the teacher/student relationship in the classroom, and offers principles for other teachers to follow to make a positive impact in their own classrooms.
About the Author. Acknowledgments. Foreword. Prologue. One: Looking for Stars. Two: Finding My Way. Three: Finding the Connections. Four: Exploring the Magic. Five: Searching for Strength. Six: Bringing Dreams to Light. Seven: Finding Mrs. Warnecke. Eight: Reflecting on the Meaning. Epilogue. Everyone Has a Mrs. Warnecke.
Cindi Rigsbee, M.Ed., is a veteran teacher with more than 20 years of experience in the classroom. As the 2008 North Carolina Teacher of the Year, she traveled 10,000 miles around her home state speaking to teachers on the impact educators have on their students. Rigsbee writes frequently for teachermagazine.org and has a popular blog called The Dream Teacher (thedreamteacher.blogspot.com). She was one of four finalists for the prestigious 2009 National Teacher of the Year Award.
Finding Mrs. Warnecke A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops. —Henry Brooks Adams Cindi Rigsbee, a sensitive and eager-to-learn child, started her first-grade year with a teacher who was emotionally abusive and played favorites in the classroom. Two months into the school year, her principal came into the classroom and announced that half the students were being moved to another class—in a dank, windowless basement room, with a young and inexperienced teacher. This change turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to Cindi. The new teacher, Mrs. Warnecke, made learning come alive for her students. She went overboard caring for each child, made her classroom "magical," and urged students to pursue their dreams. Mrs. Warnecke encouraged Cindi to read and write poetry, which became a lifelong passion. The two kept in touch for years but lost track of each other when Mrs. Warnecke moved out of state. Eventually Cindi became a teacher herself. In her difficult early years—when she struggled to gain her footing as an educator and received sub-par evaluations from her principal—she tried many times to reconnect with Mrs. Warnecke, with no luck. In time Cindi improved her craft and was named Teacher of the Year for North Carolina in 2008. In 2009 she was honored to be named one of four finalists for the National Teacher of the Year award. She came to realize that all those years she wasn't really trying to track down Barbara Warnecke, but rather, she was trying to "find Mrs. Warnecke" within herself. The two women were finally reunited on the set of Good Morning America, where Cindi was at last able to thank Barbara for making such a difference in her life. This inspiring story shows what a positive and lasting impact teachers can have on their students. It also offers advice for educators to help make a difference in their own students' lives.
Praise for Finding Mrs. Warnecke "Cindi not only makes us believe in the power of teaching to change lives, she reminds us that changing lives is what teaching is all about. I came away from this book with a full heart—ready to teach tomorrow and for many tomorrows to come." —from the foreword by Donalyn Miller, best-selling author of The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child "[Finding Mrs. Warnecke] substantiates the power of great teachers to change young lives. " —James Cunningham, Ph.D., professor emeritus, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and co-author of What Really Matters in Writing "The book is much more than a nostalgic search for a childhood teacher, it is about the value of seeking something that has been lost within us all." —Anthony J. Mullen, 2009 National Teacher of the Year
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