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Kindergarten Teacher & CGPS Alumna Rebecca Smallberg '10 Publishes Children’s Book
Marquis Austin

Kindergarten teacher and CGPS alumna Rebecca Smallberg '10 recently published a new children's book, The Firefly with No Glow. The latest entry in the Step Into Reading emergent reader series, Ms. Smallberg's moving story follows Luke — a firefly who, unlike those around him, doesn't glow — and his emotional journey toward finally accepting and cherishing what makes him different. As Ms. Smallberg explained, the book focuses on "the idea that the things that are a challenge at first can become your greatest treasures or assets." 

Ms. Smallberg first came up with the idea to write a book exploring this theme after reading Andrew Solomon's Far from the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity, which explores how families can support children with physical, mental and social differences. But what played the most significant role in the development of The Firefly with No Glow was her own experience as a student who felt different from her classmates. "I had a lot of learning and reading difficulties, so I remember what it was like to struggle. I knew I was seeing things differently than everyone else, and it made me sad. It was a little lonely at first," said Ms. Smallberg. 

Fortunately, with the help of CGPS faculty and staff, she was able to overcome these obstacles and gain confidence in herself and what she could achieve. "Dr. Stanley Seidman, who just passed away, was a really great mentor. He was definitely one of those people who could recognize all individuals for their value," Ms. Smallberg recalled. She also expressed gratitude for reading specialist Christine Nam, who she now works alongside in the Grammar School: "She was my reading specialist when I struggled in third grade. She taught me how to read."

Inspired by the teachers who shaped her into the person she is today, Ms. Smallberg helps today's students discover a sense of self and encourages them to be proud of what makes them unique. "Every single person is special and important. You're an individual, and all your qualities make you who you are — every single one of them," she explained. Planting and nurturing these seeds of identity and self-esteem is what Ms. Smallberg finds most gratifying about teaching, as she knows firsthand how much of an impact educators can have on adolescent development. "My younger self would never have thought I would have written something," said the newly published author, grateful to those who mentored her over the years. She described releasing The Firefly with No Glow while working at CGPS, where she found her "inner glow" like the firefly at the center of the story, as being nothing short of "poetic."   

Congratulations, Ms. Smallberg, on the release of your new book!

  • Grammar School

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