Micky Renders: Providing a creative sanctuary for youth to grow and heal

Year: 2018 – Province: Ontario

Certificate of Achievement Recipient

Micky Renders

Peterborough Alternative and Continuing Education at Peterborough Collegiate Vocational School
201 McDonnel Street
Peterborough, ON K9H 2W1

School telephone: 705-745-9833
School website: http://pace.kprdsb.ca/

Subjects and grades taught: Visual Art and Indigenous Studies, grades 9–12

Micky Renders was ahead of her time in education. For more than 20 years she has passionately advocated for equity and diversity, inclusion, protection of the environment, mental health and human rights, through clubs, assemblies, art projects, murals, and school-wide and community events.

Teaching approach

Social and emotional learning is at the heart of Micky's teaching. Her art room is a creative sanctuary for students to engage in meaningful projects. Students who have not succeeded at school due to poverty, substance abuse and other challenges explore and express their feelings—and heal—through art.

In the Classroom

  • Uses the power of art to explore personal, social and political issues: students created a moving theatrical piece about their trip to the poor, war-torn nation of Sierra Leone; another group made kites for a provincial air quality summit; a third painted a "garden of peace" tent for refugees
  • Teaches visual literacy using both traditional and new media: students learn painting, sculpture and printmaking, and create effective public health campaigns using digital photography
  • Gives students a voice: she mentored diverse groups of youth to create a mural for the local youth emergency shelter; she later returned there to teach a for-credit art course; students built skateboards, which helped increase self-esteem and trust in their peers as they worked together

Outstanding achievements

  • Named one of the first recipients of the White Ribbon campaign's Draw the Line on Sexual Violence Prevention Awards for the "I witness" project she spearheaded at the school; it uses photographs of people's eyes to raise awareness of sexual abuse and violence against women
  • Produces fun but meaningful short films to share with students: one (with the Star Wars theme as the soundtrack) profiled a local "eco-hero" who had picked up more than a million pieces of trash on his daily dog walks; another enlisted staff to present counter-examples of gender stereotypes
  • Created a meditation room at the school and runs a weekly meditation group; she shares her knowledge of mindfulness in workshops across the province; in 2017, Micky worked with 19 teachers in 7 schools to explore the impact of mindfulness in education
  • Designed a new course focused on artistic expressions of First Nations, Metis and Inuit culture, in collaboration with First Nations community members

Rave reviews

"Micky connects with the most vulnerable, marginalized students, who are often excluded and bullied. …[She] embraces these students fully, providing them with a presence in the school, giving them a voice, and holding space for them in so many ways."

Fellow educator