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Class of 1992 grad publishes first book

Jamie (Rohrbaugh) Stroble, Class of 1992
Jamie (Rohrbaugh) Stroble, who started at Wilmington Montessori School as a preschooler at "The Little Red Schoolhouse" in 1983 and graduated as a sixth-grader in 1992, always loved creative writing. Now, along with her furry sidekick "Reuben the floppy tongue dachshund," she has fulfilled her life-long dream of becoming a published author with the release of her book A Guide to Braveries for Small Dogs (West Summit Books).

While her dog Reuben has only been in her life for a few years, the origins of his story can be traced back more than 20 years - to Jamie's time at WMS.

"My fourth- through sixth-grade teachers, Betsy and Helen, were so supportive of every student’s creativity," Jamie says. "There were always lots of opportunities to practice creative writing." 

At WMS, Jamie also met Meghan Byrnes (class of 1992), who has remained one of her closest friends for the past 25 years. Meghan's encouragement, Jamie says, inspired her to create Reuben's award-winning blog Floppy Tongue Joy, which eventually led to her book. "I always enjoyed visiting Meghan's dogs and cat, since I didn’t have either growing up. We planned to write a book together one day with my words and her illustrations. It could still happen!" Jamie says.

Jamie adopted Reuben as a senior dog – he had already lost a number of teeth from an untreated mouth infection and had to have 11 more pulled at the vet. After his dental work, his big floppy tongue just wouldn’t stay in his mouth without teeth to keep it in, and the adorable effect inspired Jamie to take lots of photos of him. Somewhere along the line Jamie says "he started to develop a voice of his own."

"Reuben is a very unique-looking dog who is quite silly, although he takes himself very seriously," Jamie says. "He believes himself to be the largest dog who has ever lived, despite the fact that he weighs 12 pounds and can walk underneath most other dogs. He also believes himself to be extremely brave, and he has elaborate excuses for why he shakes when there is a vacuum cleaner or a bathtub nearby."

While photos of cute animals run rampant on the internet, Jamie wanted Reuben's blog and book to be about something more. "We’re donating a percentage of profits to dachshund rescue, and we’re using the book as a platform to inspire people to adopt senior pets." 

Looking back on her time at WMS, Jamie says that teachers gave her the freedom to follow her interests, not just in creative writing, but in all academic areas. 

"They also introduced us to so many fascinating subjects and ideas, like architecture and Latin," she says. "I think the freedom of movement in the classroom and working on a weekly deadline helped me learn to take charge of my own education and seek out the things I wanted to know. Before Google, even!"

When asked about her favorite WMS memories, Jamie speaks enthusiastically about her opportunities to perform and unique field trip experiences.

"One of my favorite things about WMS was doing theatre! I performed in Lady and the Tramp, the Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland, among others. We took some really fantastic field trips – to the Folger Shakespeare Library and Washington, D.C.; the beach; camping at Gettysburg; Amish country; the Brandywine Zoo; Hawk Mountain – and I still love to explore new places just as much today."

Jamie was thrilled to learn that WMS is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. While she lives in North Carolina and may not be able to attend any of our upcoming events in person, she sends her congratulations to the school community:

"Happy birthday, WMS! Here’s to 50 more years (at least) of inspiring children to follow their dreams."

Purchase A Guide to Braveries for Small Dogs in paperback or for Kindle. 

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