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Horizon School Division
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A message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education - April 12, 2019

April 15, 2019

One year ago, our world was changed forever. In the aftermath of unthinkable tragedy, children, families, and staff in Horizon School Division were in need of tremendous support. Our staff, themselves in the midst of deep grief and sorrow, gave so much support to our children and each other. With the one year milestone of the Broncos tragedy now behind us, we will be looking to the future and the next steps on our long healing journey. We will also never forget the extreme tragedy that occurred within our system during the remainder of that fateful month of April. We will continue to keep all families of those who were lost to us in our thoughts and/or prayers as we also continue with them on their healing journeys. I am forever grateful for the ongoing support from our colleagues, staff, communities, families, and partners and I am humbled and honoured to be Director of Education for a system that exemplifies what it means to be #HumboldtStrong and #HorizonStrong.

Sunday, April 7, was the first-ever Green Shirt Day. This day honours the incredible legacy and memory of Logan Boulet. Logan was a member of the 2017-18 Humboldt Broncos. His decision to become an organ donor before the tragedy of April 6, 2018, saved the lives of six people. The story of his donations spread across the country and inspired over 100,000 Canadians to register as organ donors in the weeks that followed. This came to be known as the “Logan Boulet Effect”. As April 7 was a Sunday, our schools and office recognized this day on Monday, April 8. It was certainly inspiring to see green shirts across Horizon School Division, raising awareness for organ donation and honouring the legacy of this inspiring young man.  

Last Sunday evening and Monday, I travelled to Saskatoon to take part in orientation for new executive members of Saskatchewan’s League of Educational Administrators, Directors, and Superintendents (LEADS). As a new LEADS executive member, I found the orientation informative and beneficial to my role. I want to thank Ben Grebinski, Executive Director of LEADS for providing this opportunity for learning.

I was back at Horizon’s central office on Monday afternoon to conduct interviews for the Principal position at William Derby School. We will be sharing more in the coming weeks regarding the successful candidate for this role. I want to thank all candidates for their time and conversations, as well as my Deputy Director, Randy MacLEAN, and Subdivision 8 Trustee, Cheryl Vertefeuille for conducting these interviews with me.

On Tuesday, I returned to Saskatoon for a Director’s meeting with the Provincial Leadership Team (PLT). As this was a full day meeting with my fellow Directors from across Saskatchewan, we had many enlightening and informative conversations. I appreciate the time and perspectives of each member of the PLT, and always enjoy the opportunity to meet.

That afternoon, I joined a conference call to set the agenda for our upcoming regular monthly Board meeting with Horizon’s Board Chair, Jim Hack, Vice Chair, Linda Mattock, and central office personnel. Much work is involved each month to ensure that our Board has the information they need to do their critical work. I want to thank my staff for this preparation, and our table officers for their guidance and leadership in setting these agendas.

Our PLT meetings continued on Wednesday, with a data wall walk. A data wall walk sees our school division data displayed on a large wall, to give a picture of how the data looks as a whole. We then observe and discuss this data, recognizing areas of celebration and places where improvements are needed. This is an effective planning and assessment tool that helps visualize where we are as a sector in relation to our Education Sector Strategic Plan goals and outcomes. 

For the remainder of the week, I joined several Horizon staff members and delegates from across North America at the 4th Annual International Violent Threat Risk Assessment (VTRA) Conference in Banff, Alberta. The conference was organized by Kevin Cameron and his team at the North American Center for Threat Assessment and Trauma Response (NACTATR). I had the honour of presenting a keynote presentation titled “Humboldt Broncos Strong: Learning Through Trauma, Leading Through Tragedy”. It was a humbling experience to share our story and some of the lessons we have learned over the past 12 months.

While I was attending this conference, our Trustees joined Boards of Education from across the province for the Saskatchewan School Boards Association (SSBA) Spring Assembly in Saskatoon. The SSBA Spring Assembly is an excellent opportunity for Trustees to engage in professional development, discussions with their counterparts from other division, information sessions, planning sessions, and more. This year, our Boards had the honour of receiving Treaty Symbols from the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN). FSIN Second Vice-Chief, David Pratt, presented these symbols to Board Chairs, including Horizon Board Chair, Jim Hack. Our Board was honoured to receive this gift, symbolic of their efforts towards reconciliation, which we have engaged in and continue to build upon. As is written in the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, “Together, Canadians must do more than just talk about reconciliation; we must learn how to practice reconciliation in our everyday lives—within ourselves and our families, and in our communities, governments, places of worship, schools, and workplaces. To do so constructively, Canadians must remain committed to the ongoing work of establishing and maintaining respectful relationships.” I am proud that Horizon’s Board and Boards across Saskatchewan are committed to this important work.

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