'Others First': Georgia mother's philosophy lands her the Young Mother of Year award

'Others First': Georgia mother's philosophy lands her the Young Mother of Year award

March 1st, 2013 by Susan Pierce in Life Entertainment

Tara Trobaugh reads a book with her children, Rowan, Nathan and Teagan, before sending them to bed. Trobaugh will go to New York in April to compete for the National Young Mother of the Year.

Photo by Connor Choate /Times Free Press.

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Name: Tara Trobaugh

Age: 37

Hometown: Rossville

Education: Graduate of Gordon Lee High School, bachelor's degree from Jacksonville State University, master's degree and Leadership Certification from University of Georgia

Occupation: Music teacher at Rossville Elementary School 1998-2008; now teaches music at First-Centenary Child Care Center; founder and teacher of Bumble Bee Music.

Family: Married to Kevin Trobaugh, history teacher at Heritage High School; children: Nathan, 6, Teagan, 3, Rowan, 1.

Civic involvement: Past president of Gamma Theta chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma teacher's society, 2006 Rossville Elementary School Teacher of the year, preschool music director at Silverdale Baptist Church, actor in Colonnade community theater musicals, former member of Chattanooga Choral Arts Society.

Tara Trobaugh didn't like what she was seeing.

The teacher and mother of three from Ringgold, Ga., had come across too many adults and students who exhibited a highly developed sense of entitlement coupled with a lack of respect for others. If she was to teach her children to show respect and not to place their needs above everyone else's, she decided she had to first model that attitude herself.

"I love my children enough to make the hard choices and teach them right from wrong. I feel sometimes I say 'no' a lot," she says. "But in my experience, everyone seems to be out for themselves with no regard for anyone else. Their mantra is 'what can you do for me,' not 'what can I do for you.'"

Trobaugh's philosophy of doing for others first, plus her overall skills at parenting and running a household, led the Georgia Mothers Association to name the 37-year-old as 2013 Georgia Young Mother of the Year. In April, she will represent her state at the national convention of the American Mothers Committee Inc., which will be held in New York City's Waldorf Astoria Hotel.

The mother of Nathan, 6, Teagan, 3, and Rowan, 1, she jokes that she's taken a fair amount of teasing as to "her pageant talent" or "walking the runway in a bikini," but neither preliminary exists in this competition that rewards parenting skills as much as civic involvement.

Georgia Mothers Association is a 69-year-old nonprofit that is the state affiliate of American Mothers Committee Inc. President Ruth Manning of Snellville, Ga., says its membership of just over 150 women from across the state meets four times a year to network and participate in programs ranging from finance to childrearing.

The organization also sponsors several philanthropic projects, Manning says. Last Mother's Day, for example, members served breakfast to homeless mothers in the Atlanta Salvation Army's downtown shelter. The group has also distributed more than 10,000 books to young children.

Trobaugh stood out among nominees for Young Mother of the Year with "her love of teaching and caring for students," Manning says. She helps people in her church, and wherever there is a need, she reaches out."

Trobaugh is not a Georgia Mothers Association member, but was nominated for the group's honor by the Gamma Theta chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma, a women educators' honor society.

"Tara is our immediate past president," says Shirley Smith, current chapter president. "Many times, some or all of her children would attend meetings with her. We got to observe her relationship with the children and could see her parenting skills."

At a recent weekday evening at the Trobaugh's home, the children entertained themselves while dinner was being prepared, then sat down to a meal of broccoli cheddar soup. The kids enjoyed it but not as much as the strawberries and blueberry muffins also on the table.

While mom cleaned the dishes, the kids danced happily in the living room to the sound of "Magic" by the group B.o.B. then a little before 7 p.m., the kids were told to get ready for bed. They hustled back to take baths and put on their pajamas. About 7:15 p.m., the children settled down while books were read to them, then the lights were turned off.

The TV never came on.

Trobaugh, an elementary school music teacher, chose to quit her job when her first child was born.

"My husband and I felt it imperative that I stay home," she says. "We live now on a single teacher's salary. I shop at consignment sales. We have no credit cards. "

She's become a whiz at couponing, having saved as much as $75 on one grocery bill. And, while their family doesn't go on many vacations, they have fun in their own way with bike rides, family trips to the park and bedtime dance marathons,

"The girls put on their tutus and we rock out at night before bed!" she says. "We love to dance."

Doing things with their children are the way she and husband Kevin show the value of simple things.

"Not that they have to have 'the latest and greatest' to be happy," she says.

Robin Samples saw Trobaugh's efforts to make all children feel part of a group while the two were teachers together at Rossville Elementary School. Samples is now director of curriculum and instruction for Walker County Schools.

"Tara developed a non-audition, fourth- and fifth-grade chorus, which became a real ambassador for our school. They sang at many community events, giving our underprivileged children new and enriching experiences," says Samples.

"Working with the special education department, Tara used handbells to give those children opportunities. They played for our local Lions Club for several years.

"Her passion for giving children experiences that would enrich their lives forever was clear to me."

Trobaugh says that she developed her philosophy on parenting while teaching elementary school music that Trobaugh says, before she ever had a child of her own.

And she says one word sums up her foundation for parenting: love.

"I love my kids enough to honor my marriage above everything. I love them enough to make sacrifices. I love them enough to teach them wrong from right. I love them enough to share my faith with them, to show them God's love," she says.