Tuesday, July 23, 2024
HomeBoontonDr. Edina Renfro-Michel: A Legacy of Love, Learning, and Leadership

Dr. Edina Renfro-Michel: A Legacy of Love, Learning, and Leadership

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BOONTON — Dr. Edina Renfro-Michel passed away on July 29, her 53rd birthday, ending her decade-long battle with metastatic breast cancer.

Edina was born in New Orleans, where she married Michael Michel. They built a life together in Louisiana, Mississippi, Kentucky, and finally New Jersey, where they raised their two children.

Edina’s professional career focused on counseling, educating, and working with children and families. She earned a B.A. and M.Ed from the University of New Orleans, and went on to receive her doctorate in Community Counseling from Mississippi State University. She then taught and counseled individuals, groups and families in Mississippi and New Orleans before coming north to Montclair State University in 2006.

She was an Associate Professor of Counseling at Montclair State University, an expert on attachment and clinical supervision, technology in counseling and clinical supervision, and technology in pedagogy. She developed a unique, impactful method of teaching counseling theories through the use of the Second Life 3D metaverse, popular in the early 2000’s. The program, known as the Theorists Project, enabled students to interact with artifacts and iconography of major counseling theorists in a direct, hands-on fashion which supplemented the traditional lecture discussion format. Students loved it. Starting in 2012, she partnered with NJIT on a National Science Foundation-funded program to understand and develop tools regarding flexible learning models for students, particularly in the on-line environment. In 2016, she co-edited Using Technology to Enhance Counselor Supervision: A Practical Handbook. She is remembered for always being quick to support and help her students and colleagues.

In addition to her academic career, Edina gave back to her community in many ways. She served as a council member for the Town of Boonton, representing the second ward. She was elected to three terms on the town council, stepping down in April 2023 to focus on her health. As a champion and advocate for the town that became her home, she was involved in planning and obtaining grants for numerous projects including the creation of the Boonton Ironworks Historic District, funding new playground equipment for Kanouse Street Park and rehabilitating the Arch Bridge in Grace Lord Park. She also spearheaded the rebuilding of Pepe Park. Edina was a proud ally and supporter of the LGBTQ+ community, including her daughter. She was instrumental in the founding of Boonton Rainbow Pride, and was the keynote speaker at their first event in 2021. Edina was never one to let politics get in the way of what she believed was right for the people of Boonton. She served with dignity and compassion and led with grace and empathy. Additionally, Edina was the North Star, comforter and endless source of information for many other women who developed breast cancer, and volunteered for many organizations including her children’s schools and scouting. Edina never forgot her New Orleans roots, sharing her Mardi Gras, New Year’s Day, and other traditions with family and friends.

Edina is survived by her loving husband, Michael Michel and their two children, Faith and Ian. She was predeceased by her mother Jeanette Bitsch Renfro, and is also survived by her father Newton Renfro, Jr. (Suzanne), sister Kim Renfro Ledoux (Christopher), nephews Cody and Justin Ledoux, and a host of good friends at Montclair State, in Boonton, and throughout the Southeast.

A celebration of Edina’s life will be held on Sunday August 13 at 3 pm at the Boonton United Methodist Church, followed immediately by a joyful gathering at the Boonton Elks Club. In keeping with Edina’s exuberant approach to life, she requested that attendees wear bright celebratory colors. Interment will be private. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the American Cancer Society or 11th Hour Rescue.

To plant trees in memory, please visit theSympathy Store.
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Frank Cahill
Frank Cahillhttps://www.frankcahill.com
Publisher of Parsippany Focus since 1989 and Morris Focus since January 1, 2019, both covering a wide range of events. Mr. Cahill serves as the Executive Board Member of the Parsippany Area Chamber of Commerce, President Kiwanis Club of Tri-Town, and Chairman of the Parsippany-Troy Hills Economic Development Advisory Board. Owner of the Morris now app serving small business in Morris County.
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