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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Smarty Mom: Paula Cancro

By Rachel H

We have a new Smarty Mom to introduce you to today, Paula Cancro. Paula has lived in the Triad for 16 years after moving from Buffalo, NY. She and her husband, Lance, now live in Kernersville and have five beautiful and well-mannered children, Austin 14, Maia 11, Anthony 9, Daniel 6, and Nina 4.

For the last four years, Paula worked part-time, but this year she will re-enter the workforce as a full-time employee. She is the lead teacher and director of Our Lady of Mercy Preschool in Winston-Salem. Not only is this her place of employment, but she spends many hours volunteering here as well. Paula is currently pursuing her Master of Education in Birth through Kindergarten degree at Salem College through a scholarship from Smart Start of Forsyth County. She is always looking for training opportunities throughout the year to help her learn and grow as a teacher. As many moms know, working, raising children, and going back to school can put many of your personal hobbies on hold! Paula still tries to find time to read before bed and garden, even if it has to be limited to container gardening…

Paula was nominated by Elizabeth, who had this to say, “Paula is a caring, generous and loving person. I felt this as soon as I walked into the Pre-K classroom at Our Lady of Mercy School where my son had her as his teacher this past year. She creates a loving, nurturing environment where every child learns, grows and has fun. She respects and values each child as an individual and teaches them that their potential is limitless. Paula teaches the children patience, love and understanding through her own actions. She spends many hours investing in the children. Paula is fun-loving, positive, creative, and energetic. She has a smile and a laugh that can light up a room. When you talk with Paula she truly listens and cares. It is what we do with what we are given and the positive effect it has on others that truly shows greatness. Paula demonstrates kindness, service and sacrifice for others in the day to day things. For this and all the countless things Paula does for her students, school, church, family, and community she is a great person. Paula is a true blessing to our family.”

Let’s hear more from this week’s Smarty Mom …

With preschools getting ready to open their doors, what are a few tips you can share with moms sending their babies off to school for the first time?
1.Familiarize your child with their new preschool classroom. I schedule at least two opportunities for my new preschoolers to visit the classroom and to meet me before starting the new school year. This makes dropping off on that first day much less stressful for parent and child.
2.Children can sense if a parent is anxious about sending them off to school for the first time. Try your best to be upbeat and positive on the outside, even if you are feeling sad or anxious on the inside!

What is the most rewarding part of being a preschool teacher?
My job is never boring and not one day is ever the same.

With five children, you have obviously been successful in time management! What is your best tip for moms with large families?
Moms with large families will tell you that prioritizing is a must. When I had only my first and second child, it was actually more stressful because I felt that I needed to be Super Mom and do it all, and do it perfectly. The gift of having five children is that I know that I can't do it all. The only way to keep my sanity is to make a list and prioritize- really prioritize. When you do this you find that the world will not come to an end if you don't make hand decorated cookies for every school event!

You have lived in the Triad for 16 years now. What do you think is the best kept secret in the area?
I am probably biased, but I think the best kept secret is Kernersville! My husband and I grew up in very small towns and we found that Kernersville offers the small town community with the conveniences of stores, restaurants, and easy access to Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and High Point. We love taking the kids to the Fourth of July Parade, the Christmas Parade, and the Honey Bee Festival.

What is the smartiest way you save money?
Choosing one is going to be tough because I save money in so many ways with a house of five children. I know that many people say that they don't have time to clip coupons, but I can't afford not to! I buy only the Sunday paper and clip only the coupons of items my family uses. I will even go buy additional newspapers if there are a large number of coupons that week. I then wait for items to go on sale before using my coupons. On average I save about $50 per shopping trip in coupons.

What is your favorite family activity?
Our favorite activity is geocaching. It is free, it's fun, and you can do it anywhere!

Favorite “me-time” activity?
Going out with a friend to get a specialty coffee and just talking without interruptions.

Favorite place to eat dinner as a family?
El Palenque, a Mexican restaurant in Walkertown

Favorite date night spot?
We both love to eat and it is a special treat to go out for Thai food.

Favorite book you have read?
At our family reunion this year all of the thirty-somethings were reading the Twilight series, staying up until the wee hours of the night reading and then being exhausted the next day. I was telling my friend about it and she said, “You have to read it, I'm giving you the first book." I have now read the first two books and told my friend not to drop off number three because I cannot stay up late again this week! The books are so easy to read and are very entertaining- and to think I used to be an English major.

Best place to eat lunch with the kids?
With five kids I have no loyalty to a particular restaurant! Our favorite restaurant to eat lunch often depends on who offers the best deal in town.

Favorite place to shop for children’s clothes?
I shop anywhere there is a bargain, but my go-to store is Target.

What is the best birthday party you have attended?
Honestly, the best birthday parties are the ones that keep it relaxed and simple. It is nice when the kids can play in the backyard, have cake and ice cream and just enjoy being together to celebrate.

What is your favorite mom’s must have item for around the house?
No contest- it is the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser!

Mini-van or SUV?
I love my old reliable mini-van, but I have to admit that my husband's SUV is much more comfortable, especially now that our children are getting bigger.

Favorite park in the Triad?
Triad Park in Kernersville

Favorite or most helpful blog you have read on Triad Smarty Pants thus far?
A Day in the Life of a Modern Teen because I know Jennifer, our kids went to school together and because she always finds humor in any situation. I have a teen and the whole texting thing makes me feel ancient. I can't imagine if I had the opportunity to text and use a cell phone as a teenager. I had to use a rotary dial phone which was attached to the wall in the front room, well within earshot of my father!!!

Best thing about raising a family in the Triad?
The Triad is a great place to raise a family. The best thing is that my children live in a safe environment.

I could not live without my...
Small yellow pad of paper and mechanical pencil. I carry it everywhere to make my lists.

Paula, we thank you for sharing a little about yourself with us today. It is obvious why you truly are a Smarty!

If you are reading this post and it reminds you of a Smarty Mom or Dad that you know, email us at to nomiate someone.


Anonymous said...

You have a beautiful family. Congratulations!

Boones said...

Paula you are amazing with juggling your family and all their activities PLUS teaching Pre-school AND going to school AND putting up with your husband!
Its always a pleasure walking into school and seeing your big smile and always kind and mostly funny words to live by. Thanks for all you do! The Boones.

Joell said...

I am amazed at how "together" you are. You are an amazing Triad Smarty Pants Mom. You make OLM proud!!! Joell

Anonymous said...

Paula you are so great! I miss seeing you and chatting every day! We feel so blessed to have you as a part of our lives! Stay stane - stay super and stay the smarty mom you are through all these transitions this year and with all that you do! Angela Frentzel

Anonymous said...

We are all so blessed to have Paula and her family touch our lives in many ways. One moment in her company, you feel her light shine on and through you. She is and will always be one of my favorite people that I am truly blessed to know and call friend. Congrats to you and your family. You deserve the best life can offer. You are a wonderful role model to all people for all aspects in life. Love to you..Liz W.

Anonymous said...

You ARE amazing. Thank you for devoting so much time and energy to the Kingdom of God. Our lives were touched directly by your love and hard work. Your smile is so wonderful. May God bless you, your Mom, your brother and your entire young family.

Anonymous said...

We are truly blessed to have Mrs. Cancro at Our Lady of Mercy School. She and Lance are raising children that are healthy in mind and body and Mrs. Cancro teaches the same to her lucky pre-school students! We are proud of you Mrs. Paula! Jennifer Linnell

Rebecca Seeber said...

My family is blessed to have our 2nd child in Paula's class this year and I can't tell you how excited we are about it! In just a couple of weeks, I have already seen the Cancro Difference. And I have to personally thank Paula for the transition to big family coaching she gave me when I was having our 4th! The Seeber Family loves Paula Cancro!!
Rebecca Seeber

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