Friends, colleagues, students remember Kim WarnekeWhen long-time teacher Kim Warneke died on Jan. 11 after a hard-fought battle against cancer, many of her friends, fellow teachers and students past and present were at a loss for words. But since that time they have found their voices and have shared their thoughts and memories.
Kim Warneke taught in the Hudson School District for more than 20 years, most recently at Rock and Hudson Prairie elementary schools.
When she died on Jan. 11 after a hard-fought battle against cancer, many of her friends, fellow teachers and students past and present were at a loss for words.
But since that time they have found their voices and have shared their thoughts and memories of the longtime Hudson educator, friend, wife and mother.
Warneke was 46 and is survived by her husband, John, and daughter Kaitlin, of River Falls.
To Kim: You are the most thoughtful, generous, positive, caring person I know. I have truly been blessed to have you be a part of mine and my children’s lives. I feel very grateful that Alisha had you for a teacher in third grade 14 years ago and Paige had you and Jacque as a teacher for two years. My girls loved you and have continued to love you. You were the most loving, awesome teacher and they would have stayed with you every year if they could have. You have helped our family through some hard times and you were always there for us. I knew you would always be there to listen. Even when you had your own things going on in your life, you were still worried about everyone around you.
Tammy McKibben, Teacher and parent
Kim had the extraordinary ability to make everyone she came in contact with feel accepted, appreciated and loved. I not only worked with Kim at Hudson Prairie but two of my children had her as their teacher. They fondly remember how fun she made their learning, the little lamp she always had on, and that she gave the most wonderful hugs every day.
Kim’s generous and kind spirit and upbeat personality inspired everyone to “pass it on.” She was a fabulous role model for young and old alike. It is amazing the impact one person can make.
Sue Schaeffer, Teacher, Hudson Prairie Elementary
Kim managed to find a special place in my heart the very moment she welcomed me to Hudson Prairie. Her genuine interest in you as a person was enough to make anyone feel special. What a gift God gave us in Kim. She will always be present in my life as I strive to be the best wife, mother, friend and teacher I can be. I am grateful for all she taught me.
Maija Stubbendick, Teacher, Hudson Prairie Elementary
The world is a better place because of Kim. I always think of her as an example of the motto “Attitude is a little thing that goes a long way.” Her attitude toward life was inspirational.
Shelly Bornfleth, Teacher, Hudson Middle School
Kim loved all students. It did not matter if they were tall or short, boys or girls, gifted or learning disabled. She welcomed all children into her classroom with loving, nurturing arms. I teach special education students and Kim was one of the most inclusive teachers I have ever worked with. She believes children are a gift from God and even if a child may have difficulty learning to read or do math, that doesn’t mean they can’t excel in other areas…. She was so tolerant, patient, understanding, loving and, most of all, a beautiful example of what it means to be a teacher.
Terri Swinney, Teacher
As a fellow teacher I want to make sure that people know some of the innovative hard work Kim carried out in her years of teaching. Kim and Jacque Fredrickson were the first in our district to have a true multi-age, team-taught classroom. In preparation for this the two of them read books and attended conferences during the summer so they could learn from the experience of others and offer their students a successful environment. The two of them worked beautifully together sharing students and their space. They worked each summer to develop a theme for the room that would excite learning, tying it into every area of academics. A couple of themes they had were “space” and “kingdom.” The “kingdom” theme included a royal breakfast with families and was featured on a “Good Morning America” show with Rebecca Kolls.
Kim’s career had big events, but she did so many more small acts that were above and beyond the calling of a teacher. She wrote special notes to parents and kids, hosted a monthly birthday lunch with students who had birthdays and their families, and designed a classroom full of warm, cozy nooks to help kids feel at home.
As a friend and a colleague she never said an unkind word about someone. If she heard complaints about someone else’s actions she tried to point out the reason they may have acted that way to help us all be a little more empathetic.
Kim was genuine. Her kindness was true, not an act for anyone else. She was the kind of person we all mean to be but often stumble in our attempt. She loved her family above all and often talked about how lucky she was to have such a loving husband and sweet daughter. She brought love, laughter, generosity and beauty to my life and the lives of so many!
Mary Wicker, Teacher, Houlton Elementary