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Horizon School Division
Creating a better world, one student at a time.
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December 2, 2019 - a message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education

December 02, 2019

It’s that time of year once again, and Horizon School Division is organizing for our Christmas Hamper Project. This project, funded by our Board of Education and staff donations, provides gifts for students and families in need each holiday season. This year, we will be supporting 393 students and 151 families through this program. Our numbers last year were 320 children and 123 families, so we are up in numbers once again. Please remember that you are not required to participate or donate in this project, but you are very welcome to do so if you wish. Superintendent of Finance Services/CFO, Sarah Reding, will collect cash donations and a tax receipt will be issued for donations of $20.00 or more. Payroll deductions can also be set up through Corinne Thoms, Manager of Payroll Services. Payroll deductions can be in one lump sum, or staff can choose to make contributions in each pay period. A donation of as little as $2.00 per pay period would provide $48 to the Christmas Hamper project, which would support more than one of our children, so every little bit helps. We are very proud of our Christmas Hamper Project and the generosity of our staff. It is a huge undertaking and a powerful way to make a difference in the lives of our students and families at this time of year. If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to email me, as well.

Last Monday, I had the pleasure of facilitating 7 Habits training for staff at Humboldt Collegiate Institute. I always enjoy working with staff and being part of the wonderful conversations that result. I want to thank Cory and his staff for their commitment to personal and professional growth.

On Monday afternoon, I met with Superintendent of Student Services, Darrell Paproski, and Supervisor of Literacy and Early Learning Services, Katherine Oviatt, to discuss Horizon’s Literacy & Numeracy goal. As one of Horizon’s Three Goals, this work is critically important to the success of our students. A discussion was held on the need to continue to review the math, reading, and writing assessments and to gather feedback from teachers on how we can continue to improve processes and practices. More information will be coming in the upcoming weeks as we continue our assessment journey.

Following my meeting with Darrell and Katherine, I met with Laurie Warford, part-time interim secretary at Muenster School and member of the Humboldt Broncos Board of Directors. Our conversation was related to the establishment of three scholarships or bursaries related to the Humboldt Broncos and flowing from the Memorial Golf Tournament. More details regarding these opportunities for Horizon students will be shared as they are finalized, but I want to take the opportunity now to thank Laurie for her work and contributions to this initiative.

On Tuesday, we began our Learning Improvement Plan (LIP) meetings that will see us in conversation with principals and vice-principals in each Horizon school in the coming weeks. I am joined in these meetings by Superintendent of Student Services, Darrell Paproski, and Assistant Superintendent of Student Services, Jason Neville, as well as Supervisors where available. We began our latest round of meetings with visits to Punnichy Community High School, Punnichy Elementary Community School, George Gordon Education Centre, and Raymore School. These conversations are so important to plan our work in our schools and as a system, with schools working to develop their LIP documents to reach the goals set by our Board of Education.

The Board’s Audit Committee met on Wednesday morning to review the 2018-19 Audited Financial Statements. Mark Fedak serves as chair of this committee, which includes Nathan Bitternose, Wil Lengyel, and Albert Pinacie. As with every Board committee, Chair Jim Hack and Vice Chair Linda Mattock are able to serve as ex-officio members when they are available. Linda joined us for the meeting and Mark was once again elected chair for the committee. The main purpose of the meeting was to approve the audited financials for the 2018-19 year on behalf of the Board. Both MNP, the Board’s auditor and the Provincial Auditor were in attendance for the meeting. As much as we have had the Provincial auditor involved in our audits in the past, this was the first time the Provincial auditor was in attendance at our Board meeting.

Following the Audit Committee Meeting on Wednesday, Darrell, Jason, and I continued our LIP review meetings at Watrous Elementary School and Winston High School. I then joined a teleconference with the SaskMATH Reference Committee to continue our work on this critical provincial Education Sector Strategic Plan priority. We finalized the priority’s focus around the online instructional and assessment tool and will be focusing the committee’s work on the curricular goal of “Number Sense”. I will continue to share more information on this exciting endeavour that will have a similar look and feel to the resource we use consistently across Horizon called, “Sask READS”.

On Thursday, I spoke at the international event in Saskatoon on leadership and then continued my work on the Sask MATH priority. A teleconference with the provincial Student Transportation Working Advisory Group (WAG) was held and although I was not able to attend, discussions continued regarding the transportation safety of our students, and I am proud to serve as part of this group and represent the concerns and goals of Horizon School Division and school divisions across the province.

Our LIP meetings continued on Friday with visits to Humboldt Collegiate Institute, Humboldt Public School, Muenster School, and Viscount School. I finished the week in a teleconference regarding MySchoolSask, which is the new student information system in the province. We are one of only 13 school divisions who on-ramped with the information system and sharing our journey is important as other divisions continue to get on-board in the upcoming year.

It’s hard to believe that we’re just a few short weeks away from 2020, and beginning the busy month of December. With upcoming holiday celebrations, activities, and events that bring our communities together in the spirit of giving and thankfulness, I am proud of Horizon’s staff and partners for offering so many opportunities for our students this time of year. At the same time, I also recognize the challenges that come with this time of year for some of our children and families. Christmas is most often a wonderful time of the year for children but when they experience struggles in areas such as finances or belonging, a favorite holiday can quickly turn into a difficult one.

Some of our families and children also experience loss around this time of the year. Our communities of Foam Lake, Wadena, Wakaw, Punnichy, Raymore, and George Gordon’s have certainly dealt with incredible loss in recent weeks and my heart and the hearts of so many around Horizon certainly go out to our staffs and all those who were close to the amazing people who are no longer with us. As author Walter Mosley stated, “It hurts when they're gone. And it doesn't matter if it's slow or fast, whether it's a long drawn-out disease or an unexpected accident. When they're gone the world turns upside down and you're left holding on, trying not to fall off”.

I know each of us continues to cherish each memory we make to be thankful for each moment we share with each other. Have a joyful week, everyone! #HorizonStrong

- Kevin

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