René Schmidt was born in Holland and immigrated to Canada when he was three. His parents came too. In his teens and twenties he worked as an underground mine worker, truck driver, construction worker, taxi driver, ship officer trainee and upholsterer. René studied theatre performance at Ryerson and is a graduate of York University's Creative Writing Program and Faculty of Education. As a teacher René began writing high-interest low vocabulary books for his students. His first book, Canadian Disasters by Scholastic Canada (1985 edition) was a top bestseller and reprinted three times. New editions followed in 1999, 2006 and 2013. Leaving Fletchville, an award-winning fiction novel, deals with parenthood, racism, friendship and bullying.
In the last ten years René built an energy efficient house, managed a youth drop in centre and taught Senior Drama at a local high school. He and Shirley have two sons, Adrian and Daniel. René enjoys his 40 acres and plants trees, cuts wood, does carpentry and rides a vintage motorcycle. He frequently judges short fiction for the Writer's Union.
For non-fiction Rene will present historical Canadian events with accuracy, background information and insight. He uses visual data and will adapt to the needs of the audience. If necessary he can make changes on the fly. For audiences of fiction Rene will conduct workshops, read prose or poetry from his published work or read from his latest fiction projects. Rene can present remotely with Zoom or Skype or similar programs. Contact Rene through his website at www.reneschmidt.ca to book a visit.
Fletchville Math. This math teaching and budgeting program was invented by another teacher but Rene developed it into a year-long, once a week series of lessons that teach financial awareness in realistic and enjoyable assignments. (It is a feature in Rene's award-winning novel Leaving Fletchville.) Students remain engaged and interested while all strands of mathematics in the Ontario Curriculum are addressed. Marks are easily generated in cross curriculum assignments combining Mathematics with Art, Geography, Science, and History making this study ideal for self-contained classrooms with diverse ranges of student ability.
Participants are given outline lessons and adaptable assignments they can use the very next day.
For almost 30 years, Rene taught every grade from Kg to OAC. The four Canadian Disasters series of books were written specifically for ease of use in schools to introduce topics of study or to augment curriculum demands. He can speak on 73 separate and tragic events from all regions of Canada's pre and post-Confederation history. Many are forgotten stories that appeal vividly to readers of all abilities. Rene brings history to life with details, visuals, and little-known connections to people or places. Never negative, he emphasizes how many of our disasters resulted in positive changes in law or safety standards. Presentations can be prepared thematically or with an eye to a geographical area or a historical time period.
Leaving Fletchville is a heart-warming story told in the first person of a youth who has been dismissed as a dummy and a troublemaker. Brandon learns about loyalty, racism and brotherhood in his 'safe' small town. For middle grade to high school students this award-winning story is popular with all students who yearn to be independent. Rene will read parts of it and explain how the writing process helped him develop the narrative.