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Horizon School Division
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April 1, 2016 - A Message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education

August 08, 2016


It is simply hard to believe that Spring Break has come and gone and we are preparing for the home stretch of the 2015-16 school year. My hope is that each of you had an enjoyable and relaxing holiday, taking the opportunity to spend time with family and loved ones.

The office remained open during the break and a great deal of my time the end of March was spent in preparation for the last rush of the year. Spending time indoors when the weather is decent can be a challenge but I’m thankful those of you who were able to, enjoyed the first tastes of the spring season. English-American writer/poet, Anne Bradstreet wrote: “If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.” With this in mind, I have greatly appreciated that our winter has been far from the extreme we have been exposed to in the past. However, like many of you, I’m also glad the snow is soon to be a distant memory. Spring is a time for renewal and new beginnings and our Horizon family is certainly in an exciting position to achieve great success as we prepare for the remainder of the 2015-16 school year. The challenges we’ve overcome as a system and the successes we’ve enjoyed as a result of adversity are the clear messages that we are able to grow as an educational system when we face these challenges head on. I look forward to our return and to our students joining us again for one last critical run towards a finish line that will not necessarily end in a ribbon or a medal, but celebration related to successes that stem from our own learning and the growth of our students. Our students will graduate, they will experience significant growth in their reading as measured by our teachers on their Fountas and Pinnell assessments and they will ready for a move up in their grade placement. I am excited to hear of our children and adolescents’ growth these last months and I look forward to celebrating as we complete reading assessments in April and join our high school students, parents and staff at upcoming graduation ceremonies that will run right through until the end of June.

Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, March 20-22, I joined educators from across Canada for the 21st National Congress on Rural Education at TCU Place in Saskatoon. Members of our Board of Education were on hand for the many presentations and discussions that make up the Congress, as were a number of administrators and teachers from across Horizon. We were well-represented with presentations from Mr. Clayton Parobec, Principal at Three Lakes School, Mr. Larry Mikulcik, teacher at William Derby School, Superintendent of Learning Services, Crandall Hrynkiw and Supervisor of First Nations and Métis Education Services, Joanne Cunningham, discussing topics like finding success in rural communities, citizenship education and culturally responsive schools. This year, Horizon and Englefeld Protestant Separate School Division also had the honour of providing students for the e-journalism work at this year’s congress. E-journalism provided students the opportunity to develop their skills in areas like writing, photography, videography, conducting interviews and video editing while sharing their work with Congress delegates and anyone unable to attend the event through social media and a dedicated website. You can view our e-Journalism students’ work by visiting http://ejournalismhorizon.wordpress.com/. I was and am extremely proud of our kids for their work and professionalism. Their talent was apparent to everyone in attendance at the Congress and I heard many positive comments regarding their efforts. I would like to thank them for making our divisions proud and for ensuring the happenings at the conference were shared with the public through their hours of skillful work. I would also like to thank the members of our staff who helped our team prepare, including Shelly Campbell of Wadena Composite, Jared Melenchuk of Foam Lake Composite, Rene Cannon, Distance Ed. teacher, Patsy Knafelc, Englefeld School Principal and Lance Hiltz, Communication Services Officer. I would also like to thank our principals who stepped up and ensured Horizon and Englefeld would be represented in the project. When opportunities arise for Horizon students to expand their learning, we require a supportive community, staff and Board of Education to ensure realization. I am grateful these people make up such a large part of our school divisions. 

On Wednesday, I was invited to William Derby School to attend the unveiling of a memorial to the Great War (World War I). To mark the occasion, WDS and Horizon were honoured to welcome the Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan, Her Honour, Vaughn Solomon Schofield. Vaughn had the opportunity to tour the school beforehand and remarked at how respectful and welcoming the students and staff of WDS were. I added that she would find the same from any of our Horizon schools and I am more than happy to challenge her to prove me wrong. Many other special guests were on hand for the unveiling, including Subdivision 8 Trustee, Leslie Lewis, Saskatchewan Party candidate for the constituency of Last Mountain-Touchwood, Glen Hart, members of the Silton Legion #33, including President Ms. Linda Glass and representative of the Zone Commander, Ms. Laurie Mohr and Executive Director of the Saskatchewan Legion, Mr. Chad Wagner. I was thankful to be part of the ceremony honouring our war heroes as I reflect back on my own grandfathers who fought in World War 2. Honouring those who have laid down their lives for our freedoms ensures that their memories and the lessons of their sacrifice live on in the minds and hearts of our youth and our communities. The event would not have been possible without the organization and planning of WDS staff, especially Principal Deb Schwandt-Kelln and Mr. Larry Mikulcik. It was fitting to also recognize Larry for two recent awards he won as both a History teacher and an advocate of human rights. Larry won the Canadian Government History Teachers Award for excellence in teaching Canadian History. Through his teaching, he has also been very involved in Holocaust education and Yad Vashem, the governing body that oversees educators who have invested their energy in educating students and the greater community in the atrocities of the Holocaust, have bestowed the Cantor Kraus Catalyst for Change Award to only two educators in the country, one of whom is our own Larry Mikulcik.        

While I was in Strasbourg, Rose Valley School held a “Culture Day”, celebrating the cultures of their community and their neighboring communities. Rose Valley Principal, Maynard Prosko, his staff, students and members of Horizon’s central office provided the awareness day to explore cultures that are significant to Rose Valley, our school division, our province, our country and our world. Of course, awareness is only the tip of the iceberg and the real work lies deep beneath the surface as we teach our youth to be responsive to the needs of culture and diversity, which is necessary for ensuring a safe and caring community.

CUPE negotiations continued on Thursday and our talks remain extremely positive and productive. We continue to creep ever closer to a finalized agreement that will allow both Horizon CUPE staff and the Board of Education the potential for ratification. We continue our work together in the upcoming week and I look forward to the opportunity to take on the next set of issues with the same professional candor that not only speaks to the greater “why”, but ultimately leads to a strong and effective agreement.

On Saturday, March 26th, Deputy Director, Randy MacLEAN and I joined Trustee, Jim Hack to interview candidates for two of our Principal positions for both Humboldt Public School and Nokomis School. Again, on Monday, March 28th, Randy and I met with Trustee, Wil Lengyel to interview candidates for the principalship at Rose Valley School. All three positions are available due to the retirements of the current principals and I will honor them at a later time. Meeting with potential candidates for these critical leadership positions in our schools and system is rewarding. The passion each candidate shared for leading a school and supporting students and staff on their learning journey as part of the Director’s Leadership Team was humbling for me and I thank each candidate for the inspiration I gleaned from their interview. I also want to take the opportunity to thank Human Resource Services Generalist, Bailey Chomyshen, who organized these days on Randy and my behalf and was in attendance to ensure everything ran smoothly.

As the schools and their staff and students enjoyed a much deserved break, many of our central office staff joined me in continuing to prepare for the final few months of the school year. I had the opportunity to meet with any central office staff who were available on Wednesday, March 30th for a short meeting in the late afternoon, following a personnel meeting back in the office and a meeting earlier in the day in Strasbourg. I was able to talk about literacy as it relates to the work in central office as well as to share the most recent news regarding the future Horizon Central Office building project. While most of us were working at or near central office during the week, the Technology Services team was in our schools continuing with the rollout of new technologies for our staff and students. By April 1st, nine of our schools including, Raymore School, Cudworth School, Wadena Composite High School, Punnichy Elementary School, Wakaw School, Lanigan High School, Winston High School, Wynyard Composite High School and Quill Lake School, had new desktop computers to replace the older computers they had in their labs. In total, 350 computers were replaced during this rollout with more to be rolled out in the upcoming weeks and months. I want to take the opportunity to thank Superintendent of Operational Services, Justin Arendt and Ken Sogge, Information Technology Services Coordinator and their team of technicians and analysts for their work in advancing technology in these schools. I would also like to thank the continued efforts of our Facility Services team, under the leadership of Justin and Kameron Kiland, Facility Services Manager, who were busy during this last week supporting the facility and maintenance needs of our school buildings. Justin, along with Transportation Services Manager, Jocelyne Possberg and Fleet Supervisor, Michael Zemluk and their team of mechanics continued over the break to ensure our transportation needs are being met to the highest standard. Of course, Human Resource Services, Finance Services and Payroll Services personnel continued their work throughout the week as bills continued to be paid, personnel continued to be hired and pay continued to be processed. Finally, out in our schools, our caretaking staff continued to keep our schools the shining examples we want our students, staff, parents and community members to see. Their efforts go a long way in the assurances of positive attitudes toward our buildings for all stakeholders. A great deal of effort goes on behind the scenes by the individuals in each of these departments and we can’t thank them enough as they work diligently for the needs of our staff, students and schools.

Have a great week back, everyone.


-Kevin


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