“Always pray to have…eyes that see the best in people, A heart that forgives the worst, A mind that forgets the bad, and a soul the never loses faith in God.” Author Unknown
I have always loved that quote, and I have to say, it really does sum up our Smarty Momma of the week. I met Maura when our youngest were in Kindergarten together. There was such a genuine warmth about her, that you couldn’t help but smile when you were around her. Always trying to see the best in people, and praying for those who had stumbled off of their path.
It was of NO surprise after meeting her mom last year during a beautiful Advent Retreat (led by her mom), that the apple does not fall far from the tree. Spending time with them was just (yet another) great reminder that, spending quality time with your kids and not being afraid to guide them and sometimes talk about things that aren’t always easy to talk about, can only help them in the end.
With Mother’s Day right around the corner, I’m excited to introduce you to one of my favorite moms. Smarties, meet my dear friend, Maura.
Smarty Mom Maura Triebenbacher
Married to: Willy Triebenbacher – 11 years in June 🙂
Mom to: Liam, 9 and Sean, 7
Occupation: Teacher at The Fletcher School
Hood: Park Crossing
Hometown: Lansdowne, Pennsylvania (suburbs of Philadelphia – GO EAGLES!)
Years in Charlotte: 1 ½
You come from a big family. How many siblings do you have, and what was that like growing up in such a large family?
I am number 8 of 12 – I have 6 brothers and 5 sisters. The oldest is about 13 ½ years older than the youngest and we are each a year apart. Growing up in a big family was incredible! There was always someone to play with, to laugh with, to study with, to talk to, to ask for help, to cry with, to cheer you up and to lean on. My parents taught each of us about the strong bonds of a family community, and we learned to love and support one another unconditionally. As adults, we remain very close. I consider myself very fortunate. How many people can say they have 11 best friends?
Having such a large family means that everyone is probably spread all over the country. How hard was it to make the decision to make the move to Charlotte?
When my husband was being wooed to Charlotte, my first thoughts were focused on what’s best for my family: Willy, Liam and Sean. Although we are a full day’s drive away from family, we know how much we are loved and supported. Love knows no boundaries and doesn’t cease because of the number of miles that lie between us. I think my family is happy to have a sibling (who loves to host company) living in a warmer climate. I still talk, email, text, face-time, and facebook my brothers and sisters on a daily basis.
What do you miss most about PA and NJ, and what do you love most about Charlotte?
There are some foods in the North that don’t exist here in Charlotte, like Amoroso Rolls, “Philly” soft pretzels and “Philly” cheese steaks. I miss being a short drive from family, close friends and the ocean. I love the climate and culture of Charlotte. I landed in the right place at the right time and my family and I have been able to establish some wonderful friendships. Everywhere we go in Charlotte, we are always impressed by the charm and comradery that permeates in this area.
You’ve recently gone from stay-at-home mom status, and are now teaching again. How difficult of a decision was it, and how was that transition?
My career has always been centered in education. I have worked as a regular education teacher, a special education teacher, a principal, a curriculum writer and a school board member. Within these roles, I have taken on various leadership roles such as department chair and accreditation evaluator. In July of last year, I was approached about teaching again. I had just spent 6 years at home with Liam and Sean. I never imagined that I’d stay home as long as I had but it truly went by in the blink of an eye. Before thinking, I immediately said, “Yes. I am ready.” I love teaching. I love education. I love that everyone’s brain is unique and we each have a learning style. I love helping a student identify what their gift is that sets them apart from the rest, not to mention the “light-bulb” and “ah-ha” moments when they can apply and synthesize their knowledge.
Willy, Liam and Sean have been extremely supportive throughout this first year back. We have compromised our schedules but we have found ways to balance our lives and maintain our priorities of faith and family first.
Tell us a little bit about the school you work for. What sets it apart from other schools?
I teach at The Fletcher School in Charlotte. Fletcher is an amazing independent K-12 college preparatory school, that serves students with specific learning disabilities in a small teacher to student ratio addressing the student’s individual style and needs. Fletcher is unique because the teaching is based on the principles of Orton-Gilligham, a research based total language system. Another unique trait is we are an Apple 1:1 school: all students have an Apple device (either an iPad (K-4) or a MacBook (5-12)). Fletcher is my work utopia; amazing things happen there!
You were a principal in your ‘past life’ 😉 Would you like to see yourself back in that role one day, or are you ready to tackle something new?
I try and teach my students to identify what their gifts are, and where their strengths lie. I believe my God-given gift is to be a leader. It’s innate and very natural for me to take on a leadership role. I do hope to further my career and be back in an administration job in the future.
With mothers day right around the corner, I need to bring up your sweet mom ☺ I was at a workshop featuring your MOM and I loved it! Can you tell us a little bit about what kind of workshops she does, and what was that like having her as a role model?
My mother, Dr. Patricia M. Kelly, is a licensed psychologist. In addition to her private practice where she and her staff offer counseling and testing services, my mom travels America and other countries giving leadership trainings, strategic planning and collaboration on ministry and mission trainings. She leads her life with such tremendous grace. After having 12 children (which was one of her goals in life), she decided to go to college. A 34 year old, with 12 children and a high school diploma, told my dad, one of the greatest men on earth; “I think I’d like to go to college.” Knowing my mother’s tenacity, my dad knew once she made up her mind, it was already a done deal. While raising us, my mom attended college, and in 1989 graduated with her PhD in Psychology from Bryn Mawr College. My mom made childhood an adventure based on values. She taught my brothers and sisters and I to rely on faith, to love deeply and to always work hard and with integrity. If she was having a bad day, we didn’t know it. She always had inspiration and a challenge up her sleeve. My mom is my hero. I love her, dearly.
Alright…now for all the fun stuff that we smarty readers love….
Favorite place in Charlotte for a date night?
When I’m on a date with all my men, (Willy, Liam and Sean) we frequent our favorites Leroy Fox and Wolfgangs Pizza. When Willy and I can squeeze in a date night, we love to try new restaurants, but frequently end up at BrickTops.
What’s something that most people don’t know about you?
I’m not sure how many people know that I am a VIP at The American Red Cross blood donation center http://www.redcrossblood.org . A blood drive came to my high school when I was 18, and I was amazed at how many people can benefit from 1 pint of blood. I started by donating each year, and at some point around my birthday I realized I was able to donate more frequently. Over the past several years, I have continued to donate as often as I can. I frequently bring Liam and Sean and hope that they will one day realize the power of giving to others.
Favorite thing to do with your family.
My favorite thing to do with my family is Family Game Night. We aim for one night (a weekend) and play card games or board games. We started this tradition years ago with Candyland and Go Fish. Sean’s been known to beat us all at Uno and Liam seems to get the Midas Touch when he rolls the dice in Monopoly.
Who is your celebrity crush?
I cannot resist a Robert Di Nero old school movie…those dimples!
Household chore you despise the most?
I actually love to clean; I love the instant gratification a vacuum can give. My least favorite chore, however; is putting away the laundry. Putting away laundry is a constant reminder that I could be better at organizing closets.
Behavioral trait you hope you’re children don’t inherit from you?
I hope I can help Liam and Sean with time management and deter them from becoming a procrastinator like me.
Household appliance you couldn’t live without?
I could not live without my Crockpot!
I love love LOVE learning about and certainly consuming a fine red wine. A newer favorite is a spicy Bloody Mary garnished with a slice of bacon.
Favorite guilty pleasure?
Like so many women, I enjoy getting lost in a great novel. I also love pretending time doesn’t matter during a mani/pedi, and the sound of the dishwasher running. But my guilty pleasure….I cannot say no to French fries. I will order the healthiest salad from a menu, but surely you’ll see my hand reach several times across the table to conspicuously take fries from my sons’ plates.
HAPPY MOTHERS DAY Smarties!!! Xoxo