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Finding Mrs. Warnecke: The Difference Teachers Make

ISBN: 978-0-470-48678-8
160 pages
March 2010, Jossey-Bass
Finding Mrs. Warnecke: The Difference Teachers Make (0470486783) cover image
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.

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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.

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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.
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April 27, 2010
FINDING MRS. WARNECKE: The Difference Teachers Make

Finding Mrs. Warnecke: The Difference Teachers Make (Jossey-Bass/Wiley) tells the inspiring story of Cindi Rigsbee, a three-time Teacher of the Year, and Barbara Warnecke, her first-grade teacher who had a profound and lasting impact on Cindi’s life.  This memoir is being published to coincide with Teacher Appreciation Week (starting on May 3rd). 

They lost touch, but Cindi carried the memories of Mrs. Warnecke’s teaching methods and kindness to her students with her when she became a teacher.  In 2008, Cindi was serving as her state’s Teacher of the Year, traveling throughout the state as the Teacher Ambassador encouraging high school and college students to consider teaching as a profession.  One morning she heard an announcement on “Good Morning America” inviting viewers to apply to be on the show, “If you’d like to thank someone who’s made a difference in your life.”  She sent in an email describing the influence Mrs. Warnecke played in her life and heard back a month later that they wanted to fly her to New York to be on the show.  In true TV fashion, they said they couldn’t find Mrs. Warnecke but wanted Cindi to tell her story – and then, presto, they brought Mrs. Warnecke onto the studio set to surprise her, and there were tears and hugs all around.  Here is a link to the clip: http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=5726538&page=1.  Since then Cindi and Mrs. Warnecke renewed their relationship, and there are special quotes from Barbara Warnecke at the beginning of each chapter. 

Finding Mrs. Warnecke is a beautifully written story of Cindi’s struggles and triumphs from her days as a student to her first years as a young teacher and now to her role as an advocate for other teachers.  In the book, she gives examples of four essential concepts she practices and encourages others to emulate:

Relationships – “I know that anything positive I’ve ever done as a teacher can be related back to that one word…the importance of making connections with the children in my care.”

Magic – Cindi works at “find the ‘magical’ elements that make my classroom a place my students want to be.”

Whatever It Takes – “My commitment to do whatever I have to do to make my classroom a safe and happy place for learning.”

Dreams – Called the “Dream Teacher” by her students for the past fifteen years, Cindi believes in dreams and going after them with passion and perseverance.  She shares that passion with her students throughout the year and encourages them to pursue their own dreams and passions. 

Finding Mrs. Warnecke serves as a guide to all teachers who want to make a positive impact in their own classrooms.  Also, the book is interspersed with short essays from instructors describing how they were inspired by one of their teachers.  In a bigger sense, Finding Mrs. Warnecke is about acknowledging that special teacher in each person’s childhood that made a difference.  

 

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