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Horizon School Division
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March 22, 2019 - A message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education

March 25, 2019

March 21st was both the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and World Down Syndrome Day. While it can feel like there are things in society today working to highlight those aspects that can divide us, I feel it is necessary to focus on these types of days and the great importance they represent, both as celebrations of inclusion and calls to continue our Safe and Caring efforts. As Maya Angelou wrote, “We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their colour.”

I began the past week at Horizon's Central Office in a conference call with the Crisis Management Team. As I have shared in the past, this team is comprised of Horizon staff, Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools staff, City of Humboldt representatives, Saskatchewan Health Authority representatives, and Partners Family Services. During our meeting, we continued planning for supports as we approach the anniversary of April 6. Such supports will include increased counselling services for students and staff leading up to and following that day.

Horizon’s Board held a special meeting on Monday to continue their Subdivision boundary review. As our Trustees continue their important work, I want to thank them for their time and commitment as they work to find options that best serve and represent Horizon’s students, families, ratepayers, and stakeholders.

Tuesday was an excellent day of discussion and collaboration, as the Director’s Leadership Team (DLT) of principals, vice principals, and central office staff gathered for a day of professional development at our central office. I started the day with a conversation about effective instructional leadership. We then enjoyed a very engaging presentation from and discussion about Horizon’s important work around common math assessments. Thanks to Humboldt Collegiate Institute Principal, Cory Popoff, for his leadership throughout this assessment work. We also had an opportunity for Deputy Director, Randy MacLEAN, to lead our administrators through a number of Human Resource scenarios and case studies. In the afternoon, Superintendent of Student Services, Darrell Paproski, facilitated a feedback session regarding education planning in Saskatchewan. The feedback that is gathered at the system level is being shared with the Ministry of Education to inform their work developing a plan beyond the year 2020 when our current Education Sector Strategic Plan will end. The Ministry has opened their call for feedback to everyone across our province, and our Trustees, with the aid of principals when necessary, will engage SCCs in this work in the coming weeks. The Ministry will also be opening an online survey for feedback, which will be available in early April.

Wednesday was Budget Day in Saskatchewan. Prior to the budget presentation in the legislature, I joined Horizon’s Board Chair, Jim Hack, and Superintendent of Finance Services/CFO, Marilyn Flaman, in Regina for an embargoed conversation with other school division representatives and the Minister of Education, Gordon Wyant and Deputy Minister of Education, Rob Currie. More information will be coming as we consider our initial review of the budget on Horizon. Regardless of the impact, we will continue to persevere in our classrooms across our 43 schools as our children need and deserve our very best. I am grateful staff provides this on a regular basis in our system.

On Wednesday night, I had the incredible honour of accepting an award on behalf of all citizens of Humboldt who stepped up to support one another in the aftermath of last April’s accident. All who helped in the aftermath were collectively named Humboldt’s Citizen of the Year at Humboldt’s Mark of Excellence Awards. I would like to extend this award to the staff and Board of Horizon and Greater Saskatoon, who went above and beyond to ensure the needs of our children were met daily. I recall a couple of situations where I talked to children who were anxious about getting back on the school bus in the aftermath of April 6th. Of course, I recognize these were only a couple of the many hundreds of times you as staff stepped up to support our children and each other through the trauma and loss of that tragic event. Each of you are the true epitome of “Citizen of the Year” for selflessly ensuring our children were provided with this support, even though I know you were struggling yourself. I have nothing more to say than, “Thank you”.  

Superintendent of Student Services, Darrell Paproski and I continued our Learning Improvement Plan (LIP) review meetings on Thursday, at Humboldt Collegiate Institute and Lanigan Central High School. I want to thank Cory Popoff, Principal of HCI and his team as well as Jeff Stroeder, Principal of Lanigan Central High for their efforts to support our students and their learning in their high school facilities.

This past week, we shared Horizon’s 2019-2020 school year calendar. Information with highlights and more on the development process can be found at the following link located here. I want to thank everyone involved in this year’s calendar development, including our Board, the Horizon Teachers’ Association, our support staff, and our School Community Councils. Once again, the calendar proves to meet the needs of our system, our families, our students, and our staff.  

Congratulations to our student-athletes who took part in Hoopla this weekend. Horizon Central Athletics Association was well-represented once again this year, with teams from Three Lakes School and Lake Lenore School in 1A Boys where Lake Lenore captured the gold medal and Three Lakes took home bronze. In 1A Girls, Three Lakes captured the gold medal once again while in 2A Boys, St. Brieux School captured their first-ever gold medal. In 2A Girls, Wynyard Composite High School lost a tough semi-final but battled back to capture the bronze medal. A huge thanks go out to the many volunteers, coaches, officials, families, and athletes for a fantastic basketball season.

Finally this week, I want to send a huge congratulations to Horizon’s own Tia Zimmerman (Englefeld School student), who won two gold in team relays and a bronze in individual swimming at the Special Olympics this past week in Abu Dhabi. We couldn’t be prouder of her accomplishments!   

Have a great week, everyone. Stay #HorizonStrong.

- Kevin

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