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
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
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
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.”
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
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.
continue to address our budget with
an internal review meeting with Student Activities Coordinator Brian
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
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
Canadian Association of School System Administrators (CASSA)
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.
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
Have a great week, everyone!