As far as the folks at Temple Shalom in Aberdeen are concerned, Cindy Terebush is an educator and the director of their early learning center, religious school, and Hebrew high school.
But her outreach to parents goes much further. Terebush — a mother of two who lives in Old Bridge — is a consultant, a blog and article writer, and a sought-after speaker.
In something of an understatement, she admits to being very busy. Terebush is a reporter for The Shriver Report — a news site on women’s issues — and author of the popular blog “Helping Kids Achieve by Cindy Terebush.”
Blogging since 2012, she is passionate about issues like positive discipline, creative curriculum planning, and striking the fine balance between maintaining tradition and exploring what the modern world has to offer. “I love to share my experience and knowledge to help educators and, in turn, the children they teach,” she said.
A recent blog post dealt with tradition, Jewish and otherwise.
“At the core of everything I write and lecture about is a belief in respect,” she told NJJN. “Children deserve to be respected for who they are and not who adults wish they were. The world improves when our children are raised with open minds and the confidence to make positive change.
“I consider it a great honor that I am able to use my voice, education, and experience in my own Jewish community at Temple Shalom and in the greater community when I speak at and for Jewish organizations.”
Terebush, who is “in my 40s,” grew up in Old Bridge. She was always interested in teaching. “Many members of my extended family are teachers,” she told NJ Jewish News in an e-mail exchange last week. “I remember watching my uncle grade papers, and I would love when he had extra grade books or other teacher supplies for me to play with.”
She graduated from Kean University in Union with a BA in English and a teaching certificate but initially went into marketing with a hand tool company. She left the business world after she and her husband, Todd, had their sons, now 21 and 16. When her youngest started first grade, she started tutoring and then worked full-time at a daycare center.
As a member of Temple Shalom, in 2006 she found out that they needed an early childhood director and took on the role. Four years later, in 2010, she was appointed director of the congregation’s three schools.
For Terebush, becoming a speaker and a blogger in addition to teaching was almost accidental. “In 2010, I took a class during which I was required to do a presentation,” she recalled. “The instructor said that I should be a presenter and offered me the opportunity to present a workshop at a local conference that she was organizing. I have not stopped presenting since.”
She is also an associate instructor with Professional Impact NJ, and has facilitated workshops at a range of educational institutions
While much of her audience is not Jewish, Judaism remains very important to her. She said, “I think that my Jewish beliefs inform everything that I do. I was raised in a home filled with Jewish traditions and values. I was taught about Jewish values — respect, the importance of education, the importance of giving. My parents would talk about being a good Jew. My father defined that less as ritual and more as how we treat each other and work to make the world a better place.”
On Wednesday, April 30, as part of Temple Shalom’s “Month of the Young Child” celebration, Terebush will give a talk, at 7 p.m., on “Appropriate Expectations of Preschoolers — Early Literacy, Socialization & Behavior.” It is open to the public — both parents and professionals.
Parents and teachers, Terebush stressed, need to remember that children see them as role models, and it is up to them to provide an example of treating people with respect. She also underlined the individuality of each child.
“Parents need to remember that every child develops at his/her own rate, and it is not a competition,” she said. “They need to understand that they are the role models for their children through their own actions and reactions and ultimately it is their job to provide a safe environment that builds confidence and creates independent thinkers.”