Getting to Know… is part of our new Teacher and Staff Spotlight series. Each week we will shine the spotlight one of our classroom teachers, allowing them to share some of their stories, their interests and their favorites with us. We hope our teacher spotlights will help our Morning Star parents and families further engage with our teachers, as well as give them a more personal idea of who is teaching and caring for their children during their days with us.
This week we are getting to know Ms. Cindy as she says goodbye and heads into retirement.
Ms. Cindy, or as some call her, Ms. CiCi, is retiring this week. Every child, every staff member’s life has been touched by this amazing woman.
Cindy has blessed our hallways with her positivity, her bright smile and recognizable laughter for 12 years. Many of our current families know her as the Program Coordinator for the Green Star Caterpillars. But, she has been a Blue Star, Red Star and Green Star teacher over the years.
Ms. Cindy is an Omaha native, growing up in the Holy Name area. When asked about her favorite childhood memory, it’s impossible to pick just one so she settles on the holidays – all of them. Her mom decorated for each and every one and her father was right there with her, they had a way of making every holiday special. This love of family has extended over to her love of the Morning Star families. Growing up Cindy always loved babies, dancing and gymnastics and as you’ll learn, she was very blessed to have a life filled with all three.
Cindy began attending Holy Name when she was in first grade and remained there until graduation. Along the way she met her now husband, Marty, to whom she’s been married for 44 years! After graduation she went on to obtain her CDA in Education and then opened and owned her own dance studio for 25+ years. Later, after selling her business, CiCi nannied for her nieces and nephew (Mrs. Carmen, who was also part of the Morning Star family, Maria and Shane) and then, thankfully, joined our Morning Star family.
When asked why she chose to teach, she says, “It is so rewarding! I want children to know how to learn through play and love and be respectful to everyone.” And when asked ‘why morningstar?’, she adds, “I love that we can spread God’s word here. I have met so many wonderful people here and so many of my former dance students come each day with their children. I also get to see so many of my children’s friends now as parents. And most of all watching these infants grow and learn and become so loving as older children.”
Being part of our family for 12 years, Cindy has handfuls of memories she will cherish for a long time and too many to tell in one sitting but she specifically mentioned her early mornings with Marilyn and then told her funniest staff story. “The funniest staff memory was, we were open on Christmas Eve, but had minimal children and infants, so the staff did half-day shifts. Mine was the morning shift and I was in the Green Star room. Everyone came down to visit us, infants through school-age and staff, and my replacement was coming so we had all of the staff hide in the diaper changing room to make it look like I had 25+ children all by myself. Ms. Jessie, a former teacher, kept saying, ‘you can’t leave me like this. I can’t do this!’ I told her I couldn’t stay because I had company coming. Then finally the staff jumped out and yelled, ‘SURPRISE!’ Jessie was crying and laughing at the same time!”
She’s also learned a thing or two in her time with us. “This was the first job I have worked with co-workers since college. Before Morning Star, I owned my own business and then was a nanny, so I learned to work with people and understand many different personalities. It has been wonderful and I’ve made so many friends! … Ms. Susan has taught me that I can adapt to changes. It was very hard for me to move from one room to another. I also had trouble letting children do things for themselves, instead of me wanting to help them. Ironically, I think I may hold the record for moving the most time in twelve years!”
Ms. Cindy is to miss our students and she’s going to be missed sorely. When asked what she admires most in the children, she says, “I love their honesty, their independence, their energy and their quest for learning more and more!” If she could leave our students with one piece of advice, Cindy would tell them to always put God first and treat people the way you would like to be treated. The life motto she lives by is similar. “I thank God every morning for letting me be ‘alive and able’ – I want Him to know that I’m thankful for ALL of my blessings!”
In her 44 years of marriage, her and Marty have raised four children and been blessed with six grandchildren with one on the way. They have large families on both sides and are fortunate to have wonderful siblings and many nieces and nephews and greats. She plans to spend more time with her family during her retirement and doesn’t have any plans on slowing down. “I’m entering a new phase in my life because I will be retiring. I hope that I can always be a good wife, mother, grandmother, aunt and friend to as many people as possible. I also hope to do more volunteer work for people in need. … I’ve done a lot of ‘easy’ sewing in the past and I hope to get back to that hobby. I love to watch my sons play hockey or any hockey game, especially the Penguins, and I love to cook. And of course being with my grandchildren is my #1 favorite!”
Ms. Cici’s last day with Morning Star is tomorrow and while we are so sad we won’t get to see her giant smile every day, we are excited and so happy for her as she transitions into this next chapter of her life.
WE LOVE YOU, MS. CINDY!