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Horizon School Division
Creating a better world, one student at a time.
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February 1, 2019 - A Message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education

February 04, 2019

Welcome to February, everyone. It appears it will be the coldest month of the year as the extended forecast is not promising if you're looking for relatively warm temperatures. I'm sure the travel agencies phones will be ringing as staff across Horizon start considering options around southern travel. This past week we had the rare situation when the majority of our buses were not running. At almost all times, it is in the bus drivers purview when it comes to running their routes. Given the vastness of our system, there can be a significant range in temperatures and conditions so this practice makes sense. The only exceptions occur when temperatures dip to -40 or -45 (with a windchill). At these frigid temperatures, buses are not to run. Usually, this is only for the morning so afternoon pickup is often still a potential for our families. Wherever you are in Horizon, please be sure to be safe on our highways if you are travelling to and from work. And remember this quote by John Steinbeck, "What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness". Stay warm, Horizon.

February is Aboriginal Storytelling Month, celebrating and promoting the cultural traditions and oral history of First Nations and Métis people. Many of Horizon’s schools will be recognized this month with numerous opportunities for our children and students, including cultural projects, author readings, and guest speakers. We are so fortunate in Horizon to have many First Nations partners in education, and this month presents an opportunity to engage storytellers in our schools to share knowledge with students. For more information on Aboriginal Storytelling Month, feel free to visit the Library Services for Saskatchewan Aboriginal Peoples website, at https://lssap.wordpress.com/about-this-project/saskatchewan-aboriginal-storytelling-2019/

February is also Inclusive Education Month. It is critically important that we ensure students have access to education and supports. This month is focused on raising awareness and sharing ideas about the work involved to make education accessible and inclusive for all children. For more information and resources, visit the Inclusive Education Canada site, located at the following web address: https://inclusiveeducation.ca/take-action/inclusive-education-month/ 

Since last Tuesday was a non-instructional day with no students in our classrooms, I had the opportunity to lead 7 Habits training for staff at Raymore School. I always enjoy the opportunity to engage in conversations around the 7 Habits, self-improvement, and team building amongst our staff and I want to thank Mr Gene Unruh and his staff for their commitment to this worthwhile PD.

On Wednesday, I had a meeting with my Superintendent of Operational Services, Justin Arendt, Superintendent of Finance Services, Marilyn Flaman, Manager of Transportation Services, Jocelyne Possberg, Executive Assistant, Melanie Gray, and Executive Assistant, Marni Sogge to discuss communication processes regarding transportation requests from families before meeting with one of our Horizon parents. Establishing a protocol related to families who are requesting transportation out of Horizon or into Horizon is necessary for ensuring only approved requests are provided service. A process was already in place but going through it and tweaking it is good practice.

This school year, Horizon’s Literacy Team has facilitated several professional development sessions for high school and elementary teachers. The latest session took place last week at our central office for elementary teachers, covering the topic of enhanced reading comprehension. I want to thank our Literacy Team for their work to offer these learning opportunities for our teachers.

On Thursday morning, Justin joined me for a teleconference with Ministry of Education personnel to discuss the upcoming MySchoolSask student information system for all Saskatchewan school divisions. Our meeting was an opportunity to provide insights into project progress, Horizon’s preparations, and share feedback. I appreciated the opportunity for this conversation and look forward to the efficiencies this initiative will bring to Saskatchewan’s schools. It gave me an opportunity to discuss the process we engaged in as an HTA liaison committee. Trustees Christine Gradin, Linda Mattock, and Jim Hack make up the Board composition of the committee and together with staff from my office and from the HTA, had deep and fruitful discussions on how the MySchoolSask could impact our stakeholders, including staff, students, parents, and Board. We continue to share this information with the necessary individuals as we prepare to implement Aspen software for the 2019-20 school year. As I have shared in the past, Maplewood will be replaced by the Aspen solution beginning next school year and, although it is a large undertaking, it is also going to be positive for the province and ultimately students, families, and school divisions.

Last Thursday and Friday, another session of Mental Health First Aid for adults who interact with youth was held at the Horizon Central Office. Thank you to Jan Paproski, Coordinator of Learning Services, for organizing this opportunity for our staff, and thanks to Candace Rogers, Population Health Educator with the Saskatchewan Health Authority for facilitating. Removing the stigma around mental health, recognizing the “help” signs for those with mental health needs, and ensuring support is readily available for all who need it, are very good reasons why this type of training is important for our staff in Horizon. 

As Friday, February 1 was World Read Aloud Day, I will leave you with the following quote from Dr Seuss, who said, “You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child.”

Have a great week, everyone. Stay #HorizonStrong.

- Kevin

Kevin C. Garinger  B.Ed., M.A.Ed.
Director of Education/CEO
Horizon School Division No. 205