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Finding Mrs. Warnecke

The Difference Teachers Make

Finding Mrs. Warnecke by Cindi Rigsbee
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Finding Mrs. Warnecke tells the inspiring story of CindiRigsbee, a three-time Teacher of the Year, and Barbara Warnecke,the first-grade teacher who had a profound and lasting impact onCindi's life. Cindi, an insecure child who craved positiveattention, started her first-grade year with a teacher who wasemotionally abusive and played favorites in the classroom. Twomonths into the school year, her principal came into the classroomand announced that half the students were being moved to anotherclassroom--a dank, windowless basement room, with a young andinexperienced teacher. This change turned out to be the best thingthat ever happened to Cindi. Her new teacher, Mrs. Warnecke, madelearning come alive for her students. She went overboard caring foreach child, made her classroom "magical," and encouraged studentsto pursue their dreams. Although Cindi was reluctant to explore hercreativity as a student, Mrs. Warnecke encouraged her to read andwrite poetry, which became a lifelong passion. The two kept intouch for several years but lost track of each other when Mrs.Warnecke moved out of state. Cindi spent many years trying toreconnect so she could thank Mrs. Warnecke for making such adifference in her life, but to no avail. Eventually Cindi became ateacher herself, and thirty years later she has taught more than2,000 children and been named Teacher of the Year for her homestate. She later came to realize that all those years she wasn'treally trying to track down Barbara Warnecke, but rather, she wastrying to "find Mrs. Warnecke" within herself.

In Fall 2008 Cindi and Barbara were reunited on Good MorningAmerica; the show's producers had tracked Barbara down andbrought both women on-set for a tearful reunion. Barbara wasfloored at this attention--she had no idea she could have made suchan impact on a former student's life. As Cindi travels aroundtalking with new and veteran educators, she is always approached byaudience members who are moved to tears and want to share the storyof the "Mrs. Warnecke" in their own lives. Finding Mrs.Warnecke not only tells the story of this teacher who made alifelong impact on her students, it illustrates the importance ofthe teacher/student relationship in the classroom, and offersprinciples for other teachers to follow to make a positive impactin their own classrooms.

Wiley; February 2010
160 pages; ISBN 9780470608784
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Title: Finding Mrs. Warnecke
Author: Cindi Rigsbee; Donalyn Miller
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