Marthese Fenech-Creating Love & Empathy In The Classroom

It’s amazing how people come into our lives, in what we believe is for a specific purpose, only to become so much more.

I met Marthese Fenech, Mar as she’s known to her friends, in 2015. We were both part of an online writing group called Kidcrit. I quickly realized that Mar was as gifted with her feedback to others as she was with her own writing.

Mar Fenech

Over the years our relationship has grown from sharing a love of writing to sharing a love of animals.

Mar was born in Toronto and now lives north of the city with her husband, Brad, and their beautiful Siberian husky.

Family Photo

She says her love of animals is something that’s innate. She finds animals pure and without artifice. Her maternal grandfather felt the same way. He was known to take care of a pack of stray dogs. The dogs would follow him around Malta, eager for the delicious scraps of food he carried with him.

Mar is also a devoted high school teacher. She has been teaching for twelve years in a variety of subjects including English, World Religions and Phys. Ed.

This year, Mar has been teaching a wonderful group of students aged 14-18 with developmental delays and multiple exceptionalities. I was thrilled when she told me that not only was she going to buy a copy of my picture book, A Family For Faru, to read to her class, but the students were going to do an art project based on the book.

Inspiration hit!

I asked if she would be willing to auction the art to raise funds for Care For Wild Rhino Sanctuary, the rhino orphanage my daughter volunteered with. Without hesitation, Mar was on board.

She obtained permission from her Principal, involved teachers from other departments, and began the project!

I loved receiving updates of her students thoroughly engaged in their art. Seeing their happy faces, proudly holding up their gorgeous paintings inspired by A Family For Faru, was incredibly moving.

Once the art was complete, Mar moved onto the next step—auctioning the paintings. Due to the restrictions of Covid-19, the auction was held online. Mar’s wonderfully supportive colleagues at Monsignor Percy Johnson, bid on the artwork. Mar and her amazing students raised almost $500 for the rhinos at Care For Wild Rhino Sanctuary.

But equally, if not more important, Mar instilled a love for other species in her students that they will take with them. She showed them they have the ability to make a positive difference in the lives of animals.

When asked if there was only one thing she could change in the world, what that would be. Her answer— to change humans’ inability to co-exist with each other and other species, a failure borne of human greed, which is at the root of the world’s crises.

I am so very grateful to have met Mar. Her compassion to help others has no bounds. She generously supports other writers, is a devoted teacher to her students and has a great love for animals. It was an absolute honour to collaborate with her on this amazing project to help rhinos.

To learn more about Mar, check out her website:

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