When I think about all we have to be thankful for this time of year, I think about Horizon’s students and staff, and the amazing families and communities we have across our division. The collaboration that exists at all levels of our system helps students achieve great things every day. I know I’m not alone in saying that I am very thankful for the opportunities we get to make a positive impact in the lives of so many young people. At the same time, I am equally thankful for the personal relationships I have had in my life, both past and present. I am grateful for the memories of so many individuals who have and continue to be inspirations for me and so many today and every day. These individuals have urged me in my life’s journey to become a better version of myself. Like staff across Horizon who support our children, they could have easily coined the phrase by Robert Van Dam, “I've impacted peoples' lives in such a way that they'll never forget”.
October 5 was World Teachers’ Day. We are all extremely thankful for Horizon’s teachers and their tireless work in support of students. This year’s theme was “The right to education means the right to a qualified teacher.” In Horizon, we take great pride in the fact that we have “the right people on the bus”, which is how Jim Collins describes the process of staffing in his book, Good to Great. October is also Learning Disabilities Awareness Month. As learning looks different for each of our students, I am grateful for the work of families, teachers, system personnel, and partner organizations as they collaborate to best support the needs of all students.
Last Monday, I spent time in a meeting with Superintendent of Finance Services/CFO, Marilyn Flaman, to review Horizon’s pre-audit financials from the 2017-18 school year. Our annual audit is a critical process and one that benefits from the expertise of our staff in Finance Services.
On Tuesday morning, I met with Cory Popoff, Principal at Humboldt Collegiate Institute, who has been leading Horizon’s work in developing common assessments for Math. Cory and I discussed this work, how it is being used across our division, and future opportunities to share our processes with other school divisions. On Tuesday afternoon, Gerard Frison, teacher at William Derby School and President of the Horizon Teachers’ Association (HTA) met with me for one of our regularly scheduled meetings. It is always beneficial to meet with Gerard and discuss the important items brought forward through the HTA, and I am thankful for our collaborative relationship in support of Horizon’s teachers. Following my meeting with Gerard, Randy MacLEAN joined me for part of a meeting I had with Kenda Thimm of Meyers Norris Penny (MNP). MNP is once again conducting Horizon’s audit this year, and our meeting was an opportunity to review the process thus far and discuss audit needs.
My Director’s Leadership Team (DLT) met via Skype on Wednesday morning. We reviewed a number of timely issues for our division, and myself and members of my Senior Leadership Team had the opportunity to share information and lead discussions around several important pieces relating to school administration and learning opportunities for students and staff.
Following our DLT Skype, I met with Horizon’s Board Chair, Jim Hack, and members of Horizon’s senior leadership and support staff to set the agenda for the Board meeting coming up on Wednesday, October 8. The Board’s Audit Committee then met to review this year’s audit. As I have stated, the audit is a critical process for our organization, and I appreciate the attention to detail and conversations brought to this process by our Trustees on the Audit Committee.
On Wednesday afternoon, and most of the day Thursday, Horizon’s Board met for a strategic direction session. During this session, we reviewed the Cycle 3 matrix of the Education Sector Strategic Plan, Horizon’s Strategic Plan and planning documents, and a number of other items of importance to our system. Our Board was deeply engaged in these sessions and I am grateful that our Trustees give so much time to the critical conversations that guide our work as a system. We had many meaningful exchanges over the course of these two days, and I look forward to continuing our strategic work in the weeks and months ahead.
On Friday, I took part in a teleconference with the Provincial Leadership Team (PLT), which is made up of my fellow Directors of Education from across the province and First Nation authorities and personnel from the Ministry of Education. This teleconference is a great way for us to share information, ideas, insights, and discussions relating to our work in the education sector. I value the collaboration and feedback this group provides in our work to support Saskatchewan’s students.
I hope you’ve all had a fantastic Thanksgiving weekend, and that you each had an opportunity to stop and reflect upon the things you’re most thankful for. As the English poet, William Blake, once wrote, “the thankful receiver bears a plentiful harvest.”
Have a great week, everyone. Stay #HorizonStrong.
Kevin C. Garinger, B.Ed, M.A.Ed
Director of Education/CEO
Horizon School Division No. email@example.com