Gail Raderer in the newly painted 8th Grade girl’s bathroom. The hot air balloons represent how each girl individually is important, reminding them they can lift each other up and together be spectacular.
A mom decided to do something positive in her son’s middle school. Gail Raderer, mother of four, wanted a place for kids to be able to draw on positive messages when the day might be a challenge. Though not a professional painter, she, in collaboration with the school’s principal and lots of student input, has taken on four bathrooms at Kammerer Middle School and is planning more, while she incorporates help from students with both ideas and painting; they are invested in and proud of these projects.
This expresses the idea that you can admire someone else’s beauty without diminishing your own. Lots of dots on the wall are for the girls to remember all the people who support and love them. The peacocks and flamingos represent external beauty and are a caution about simply aspiring and admiring external beauty without considering the substance underneath.
Anger to Calm was the theme of this particular 6th Grade bathroom. Gail decided to represent this by painting the sun cooling down to water, exhaling bubbles to represent releasing angry feelings.
Gail says students have used time spent painting — as an opportunity to talk about their problems which has been therapeutic for them. “They come in and give me all of these ideas and then I go with what they say and that is how it has evolved. The majority of all of these murals have come from conversations I’ve had with these kids. When they sit and they paint, they talk, they open up and that is how they communicate the best. It was surprising how much they would tell me…anything from drama over social media to serious stuff that goes on at home,” she says.
It’s a pixelated look of many small squares. Gail says this was inspired by the math theory tessellation which is the idea of a pattern made up of shapes that must fit together without any gaps. So this is the idea of many small individuals combining into something big.
Gail Raider with the principal of Kammerer Middle School, David Armour.
In the boys’ bathroom, Gail says that middle school is “riding out the wave; a sink or swim feeling.” She wanted to depict sports but not the typical sport so she chose surfing.