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.show more