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Horizon School Division
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February 15, 2019 - A Message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education

February 15, 2019

During this February break, I hope each of you will get some well-deserved relaxation, catch up on a good book, and spend time with loved ones. I know many of you are heading somewhere warmer and I simply ask you to be safe wherever your travels take you. For me, I plan to take a few days and travel to Lethbridge to visit with my granddaughter. I know it doesn’t look like it’s going to be much warmer there, but I do know it'll be amazing for the heart! I’m already counting down the sleeps!

Learning Improvement Plan (LIP) review meetings continued this week. On Monday, we travelled to Foam Lake Composite School, Foam Lake Elementary School, Wynyard Elementary School, Wynyard Composite High School, and Watson School. On Tuesday, we met with administrators from Punnichy Community High School, George Gordon Education Center, Punnichy Elementary Community School, and Raymore School. I missed the opportunity to meet with Gene and Travis at Raymore as I travelled to Nokomis for meetings with Principal, Kalie Hendry. There are such important conversations in each of these meetings, and our school principals and vice principals are always so passionate when talking about the great work of school staff in developing and carrying out these plans. I am also grateful for the work of our Superintendent of Student Services, Darrell Paproski and Superintendent of Learning Services, Crandall Hrynkiw, who lead conversations during the meetings.

We took a break from our LIP meetings on Tuesday morning for a meeting with the Crisis Management Team. The team includes Horizon staff, representatives from Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools, the Saskatchewan Health Authority, Partners Family Services, and the City of Humboldt. This meeting was an opportunity to discuss the supports that we anticipate needing for students and staff as we approach the one year anniversary of the Humboldt Broncos accident. We also discussed an upcoming opportunity to help facilitate presentations from Kevin Cameron – Executive Director of the North American Centre for Threat Assessment and Trauma Response. More information regarding this opportunity will be shared soon.

On Tuesday afternoon, Superintendent of Operational Services/COO, Justin Arendt stepped in for me and joined a teleconference with the Strategic Leadership Team (SLT). The SLT is made up of personnel from other school divisions as well as the Ministry of Education. Their conversation centered on the MySchoolSask student information system (SIS) that is being rolled out province-wide. Of course, this will replace Horizon’s current SIS, Maplewood, and Justin and his team are working to make the transition as smooth as possible for all involved. I think this is an appropriate place to wish Assistant Deputy Minister, Donna Johnson all the best as she moves into a role as Deputy Minister of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety. Donna has been an incredible advocate for education and for children and she will be sorely missed in our Ministry. Thank you for all you have done to make a difference in education, Donna.

Horizon’s Board of Education met on Wednesday for their February regular meeting. There was much to discuss and review including a literacy presentation from Superintendent of Student Services, Darrell Paproski and Supervisor of Literacy and Early Learning, Katherine Oviatt. We also had a presentation from Dennis Gerwing, Principal of Muenster School, regarding the school’s use of data collected during their Review of School Effectiveness (ROSE). The Board also discussed its capital project application, which is submitted to the Ministry of Education this time each year. The Ministry will then review a list of applications from across the province. We also discussed the First Nation Tuition agreements that exist within Horizon School Division including some of the process that was deemed beneficial as we worked to complete Day Star’s agreement with Chief and Council and trustee Paul Crow-Buffalo. Both parties are proud of the agreement that ultimately supports the needs of our children from Day Star and we look forward to signing off on the agreements in the upcoming days and weeks.

On Thursday, I travelled to Fishing Lake First Nation to meet with Chief Derek Sunshine and his Council regarding the most current tuition agreement between Horizon and Fishing Lake. We were joined by our Subdivision 14 Trustee, Sheryl Kayseas, our Superintendent of Finance Services/CFO, Marilyn Flaman, and Crandall. I know I am not alone when I say how greatly I appreciate the opportunity to have discussions of this nature, to listen, and to learn how our partnership can best support our students.

Crandall, Darrell, and I finished up the week travelling to Schell School, Imperial School, Winston High School, Viscount School, and Bruno School for LIP review meetings on Friday. Thanks to the administrators and staff at each of these schools for your work in support of these documents. I also had the chance to join in with the staff and students from Viscount for a “Skatin’ for Treyton” skate-a-thon in support of our own Viscount School student, Treyton Leffler. Although I wasn’t able to stick around for Treyton’s arrival, I was able to see the incredible school and community support for the young man who was in a serious car accident. I was also grateful that Trustee Jennifer Lemky could provide Treyton with a small gift courtesy of the Humboldt Broncos organization and the Horizon School Division. I want to thank Broncos’ office manager, Amanda Brochu for organizing the gift for Treyton.

Over the past few weeks and next few months, families are being provided with the opportunity to have their children’s developmental stages assessed using the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ). The questionnaire helps to determine if our earliest learners are developmentally on track based on the developmental milestones for their ages. The range for a child's assessment is 2 months of age to 5 years of age. The assessment not only provides us with an understanding of the needs of the children but also provides an opportunity to connect families, where appropriate, to services that can support successful early childhood beginnings. Following the ASQ in all communities of Horizon where schools exist, we have been invited to submit a proposal to the Ministry of Education regarding our developmental assessment. The hope of the submission would be to eventually adapt processes for supporting all preschool-aged needs. I will be certain to provide more information as the work continues in Horizon.

Finally, as we head into Family Day and the February break, I also think about the importance of saying THANK YOU. At times like this, when the days are cold and we’re feeling like we might be grating on each other a little, it is so important to remember to acknowledge all of you who are working so hard for Horizon and its families. Whether you have so aptly created the T4’s for us or do an amazing job of the transportation needs for students and staff; whether you have taught a child to read, fixed a ballast so they had the necessary light to write, or answered a call from a parent or a community member, each of you make a difference. And because of you, I look so very forward to working in Horizon and am honoured to be part of it. But as much as our work relationships are important, it is also true that we need to unplug and to plug back into the relationships we have in our families. As the novelist, Anne Lamott once wrote, “…almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes…including you”. I guarantee we will find the energy and power in those relationships and that they can help us meet the last month and a half of winter with strength, resilience, and success.

Have a great week off, everyone. Thank you for always being the epitome of #HorizonStrong.

- Kevin

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