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Horizon School Division
Creating a better world, one student at a time.
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May 10, 2022 - A message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education

May 10, 2022

I want to begin “This Week” by thanking all the mothers, surrogate mothers, and those who take on the role of mother across Horizon School Division and beyond for all you do in support of their children. No matter how old we are, a mother is such an important person in our lives, and I know we are or have been grateful for those who have nurtured us throughout our lives. One of my favourite authors, Mitch Albom, in his book “For One More Day” stated, “I realized when you look at your mother, you are looking at the purest love you will ever know.” Our Horizon children are fortunate to have that love in their homes and schools. I hope each mother reading this has had a great day marked by loved ones showing their appreciation for everything you do. Happy Mother’s Day!

 

Mental Health Week

This year’s Mental Health Week theme was empathy. The Canadian Mental Health Association urges us to #GetReal about how to help. We may be different, but that doesn’t make us rivals. So let’s stop polarizing and start empathizing. Continue to be there for each other when times are hard, and be ready to listen. You don’t have to agree to understand, and you don’t have to fix it to help.

 

Perhaps Atticus Finch explained empathy best in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), “If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his [or her] point of view until you climb inside of [their] skin and walk around in it.”

 

Jason Neville

As you all know, Jason has accepted the Director of Education/CEO position for the Lloydminster Public School Division. We will miss his presence here as Superintendent of Student Supports. This is the second departure from Horizon for a CEO role, and we couldn’t be prouder! We look forward to our continued work with Jason as Superintendent of Student Supports, and after August 1, 2022, I look forward to collaborating with him at the director level.

 

School Meetings

Early in the week, I had the opportunity to visit Bulyea School and meet with principal Justine Wheeler and new Horizon Teachers’ Association president Vernalynn Gorrill. Engaging with our staff members in essential discussions regarding learning and leading is always time well spent for me. I also witnessed the vital work of our support staff as they collaborated with Justine and other teachers to support the unique needs of our children. I also travelled to Winston High in Watrous to meet with principal Terry Braman. Terry and his staff led their grade 12 students in the first graduation of the season with trustee Jennifer Lemky and Superintendent of Inclusive Education Darrell Paproski.

 

Budget 2022-23

We continue to address our budget with an internal review meeting with Student Activities Coordinator Brian Grest, CFO Sarah Reding, and Assistant Superintendent of Finance Lori Washkowsky. We continue to prepare the budget for the Board’s review on May 17.

 

Day Star First Nation

Trustee Paul Crow-Buffalo, CFO Sarah Reding, and I met with Day Star First Nation representatives to discuss Targeted High-Cost Special Education Program resources and federal funding. Our chiefs and councils from our First Nation authorities are such important partners in educating the youth of their communities. We look forward to meeting with Day Star in the coming weeks to finalize the next steps in our combined agreement.

 

Board Agenda Meeting

This past week, we had the chance to hold our monthly agenda meeting to prepare for the upcoming board meeting. As always, Board Chair Jim Hack and Vice Chair Linda Mattock joined us for this meeting. Also in attendance were Superintendent of Finance Services/CFO Sarah Reding, Superintendent of Operational Services/COO Justin Arendt, Executive Assistant Marni Sogge, and Communications Officer Jesse Green. There is a great deal to discuss, including our impending budget discussions planned for May 17th. In the last 8 years, we have been required to reduce our operation’s budget due to shortfalls in education funding. Unfortunately, this year again, we were nearly 1.5 million dollars short and are not able to sustain what we had in 2021-22. I thank our staff for their efforts to help equitably manage this funding dilemma with a significant focus on how best to keep student and staff needs at the forefront.  

 

Virtual DLT Meeting

It was nice to see everyone’s faces through the screen on Wednesday morning. We covered a lengthy agenda, beginning with discussions around field trips, graduations, year-end wind-ups, student recognition awards, and more. Superintendent of Human Resources Cory Popoff thanked administrators and teaching staff for their overwhelming response to requests for interns and gave a quick update on 2022-2023 staffing, which will be announced in the coming days. Next, Superintendent of Inclusive Education Darrell Paproski shared information on free interpretation services offered by the Ministry of Education, considering many newcomers to Canada will be entering our school system.

 

Canadian Association of School System Administrators (CASSA) Board Meeting

I joined the national network of senior school system leaders for our regular CASSA board meeting, where we also dug into our strategic plan for the upcoming years. We are working to develop strategic direction and accompanying actions for mid-to-long term goals established by the executive. As the president of LEADS, I am on the executive of CASSA for this year and have found it invaluable as we connect with leaders from across the country.

 

SaskTel Security Session

COO Justin Arendt and I joined four other school divisions for a cyber security update from SaskTel. We discussed cyber security fundamentals and recent survey results on the topic. The session will undoubtedly inform our response to beefing up Horizon’s cyber security. Justin, Ken Sogge (Technology Coordinator), and their staff have been instrumental in supporting this work over the last number of years. However, learning more about best practices in the province certainly adds to their ability to manage this work.  

 

Mental Health and COVID

I had the opportunity to meet with Natalie Kallio and Dr Nazeem Muhajarine from the University of Saskatchewan in preparation for next week’s presentation called “See Us, Hear Us 2.0: Mental Health Experiences of Children, Youth and Families in Saskatchewan 2020 - 2022.” Dr Muhajarine and Dr Tamara Hinz will present their research into COVID-19 and its effect on mental health and have invited all LEADS members to attend. This is important work, and we look forward to learning more.

 

LEADS Board Agenda meeting

I met with LEADS executive director Ben Grebinski and president-elect Jason Young, Northern Lights School Division’s Director of Education, to set our board meeting agenda that is coming up in a week and a half. As the president of the professional organization, I have the opportunity to work with the executive to build the profile of LEADS in our province and to support the members through ongoing professional learning, including our summer short course in early August.

 

Mental Health and Well-Being Spring Symposium

I was joined by Superintendents Bryan McNabb, Darrell Paproski, Jason Neville, and Principals Crystal Schindel, Darryl Dickson, Dennis Gerwing, Jay Fitzsimmons and Eric Anderson at Prairieland Park in Saskatoon at the Mental Health and Well-Being Spring Symposium. The theme was, ‘Working together; what’s STRONG with us?’ We heard from renowned public speaker Kevin Cameron, Executive Director, North American Center for Threat Assessment and Trauma Response and as well as panellists and many other breakout sessions. As the system, we were individually involved in many discussions around this very important topic. I left the conference on Friday, travelling to Punnichy and George Gordon to be with GGEC principal Tammy McNab and any staff at the three schools. They are dealing with a community tragedy, and I was grateful to spend this time talking and making sure their needs were addressed. I don't always get the chance to sit and talk with teachers and support staff, and Friday turned out to be such a significant opportunity for this to occur.

 

Graduations

As I mentioned, with the weekend over, graduation season is officially here! What a pleasure for grads of Winston High in Watrous to be celebrated in the manner they wanted to as the age-old tradition of grad in the curling rink! Congratulations to the grads, and we look forward to the subsequent 26 ceremonies in the division!

 

Have a great week, everyone!

 

-Kevin