April is World Autism Awareness Month. A number of events are planned throughout the next few weeks, including “Inside Out for Autism”, where people are encouraged to wear clothes inside out for the day, and autism awareness walks. According to autismcanada.org, “Since [World Autism Awareness Month’s] inception, autism awareness and acceptance have increased and a better understanding of neurodiversity has arisen, but there is still more work to do!”March 24-30 was Social Work Week. This year’s theme was “Real People, Real Impact”. Social workers, student counsellors, outreach workers and other professionals and paraprofessionals help our students in this area each and every day, and this week marks a time on our calendars where we can stop and show appreciation for the support they provide. To all of our staff and the numerous partner organizations in the field, thank you.
This past Monday was a non-instructional day for our schools, meaning that students had the day off while teachers and school staff engaged in planning and professional development opportunities. I had the pleasure of completing the facilitation of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People training at Raymore School. I always enjoy working with staff and being part of the wonderful conversations that result. I want to thank Gene and his staff for their commitment to personal and professional growth.
Mid-year Learning Improvement Plan (LIP) review meetings wrapped-up for another year last week, with our final meeting at Humboldt Public School. Superintendent of Student Services, Darrell Paproski, and Superintendent of Learning Services, Crandall Hrynkiw, and myself sat down with Principal Clayton Parobec and Vice Principal Darlene Popoff to discuss the LIP document that has been developed to guide the work of their school. We will now look forward to the next review that will begin in mid-May.We also began budget meetings with our Senior Leadership Team (SLT) members on Tuesday. As is part of the process, I sit down with our Superintendent of Finance Services/CFO, Marilyn Flaman, and individual members of our SLT to discuss the needs of each service area for the year ahead. Tuesday’s meetings involved Superintendent of Student Services, Darrell Paproski, and Superintendent of Learning Services, Crandall Hrynkiw and discussions concerning their areas of responsibility.On Tuesday afternoon, I had a conference call with the newly created Student Transportation Working Advisory Group (WAG). I am representing the League of Educational Administrators, Directors, and Superintendents (LEADS) on this provincial committee, which includes 2 other LEADS members, representatives from the Saskatchewan School Boards Association (SSBA), the Saskatchewan Association of School Business Officials (SASBO), the Ministry of Education, and SGI. This was an introductory meeting for the committee, which has been tasked with reviewing information from Transport Canada with a mandate of reviewing student safety as it relates to transportation. This important work also includes discussions on the potential use of seatbelts on various student conveyances including school buses. Later that afternoon, Justin Arendt, Superintendent of Operation Services joined the provincial Strategic Leadership Team for a conference call regarding MySchoolSask. This project will see all school divisions in Saskatchewan moved onto the same student information system (SIS) and the necessary planning and work is certainly progressing toward this end. Of course, a great deal of work remains for our systems to be completely ready, including a significant amount of training for staff. I will certainly continue to share where this sits at considering the end of the school year is nearing.Our SLT budget meetings continued on Thursday, and I joined Marilyn in conversation with Justin. Horizon’s Operational Services includes Facility Services, Transportation Services, and Information Services. I thank Justin and his team for their work to prepare the necessary documents and recommendations for next year’s budget deliberations. I then took the opportunity to travel to Englefeld and meet with Principal Cori Harcourt to discuss a number of pressing issues including some minor capital projects. We were joined by Manager of Transportation Services, Jocelyne Possberg and Manager of Facility Services, Kam Kiland who both shared their incredible expertise relative to potential project requests.On Friday, I joined the other Provincial Leadership Team (PLT) owners to discuss the upcoming meetings that will take place next week in Saskatoon. In particular, we set the agenda that will discuss budgetary items and review the one-year Cycle 4 work that will begin next school year. A number of other meetings and discussions were held throughout the course of the day, prior to bringing the week to a close Friday evening.On Saturday evening, I joined Horizon trustee, Captain Lori-Anne Proznick for the COATS Mixed Supper at the Saskatoon Inn. One of the focuses of the military is to heighten partnerships with organizations who support their work and Horizon is considered one of these important partners. I have had the rich opportunity to be involved with our students who are in the Cadet programs for the past few years now and I see first-hand the impact belonging to one of these corps brings to those who are passionate about it. I am glad it exists for our interested students and I will continue to support those young people who desire to be involved.Lastly this week, it is with a very heavy heart that I share about the passing of Patricia Ukrainetz. Some may have known Patricia as the sister of Horizon Trustee, Mark Fedak. Our thoughts and/or prayers are with their family and friends at this very difficult time. At this time of loss, I am reminded of the quote by author, Harriet Schiff who wrote, The Bereaved Parent. As we head into April, this quote keeps coming back to me. I hope it serves Patricia’s family as it has me and I’m certain many others as we continue to address our grief. “The reality is that we don’t forget, move on, and have closure. But rather we honour, we remember and incorporate our deceased children and
siblings into our lives in a new way. In fact, keeping memories of our loved ones alive in our mind and heart is an important part of our healing journey.”
I hope for our collective and continued strength. Thank you for staying #HorizonStrong for each other. - Kevin
Kevin C. Garinger B.Ed., M.A.Ed.
Director of Education/CEO
Horizon School Division No. 205