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Horizon School Division
Creating a better world, one student at a time.
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April 22, 2016 - A Message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education

August 08, 2016

As I contemplate the direction we are going in Horizon, I often use the analogy of driving in a car. We look to the future of where we're going through the large windshield that stretches before us and we peer in anticipation for the destination of where we hope to end up. However, we rarely do so without taking regular looks in the rearview mirror. The rearview mirror is much smaller than the expanse of the glass but our regular glimpses in it help us to recall where we've been. In so many ways, we are able to lay the course for our future by ensuring we examine the learnings, both the positive and negative, that have brought us to our current place. As we forge forward, we need to do so with a purpose of not forgetting the path that we have travelled that shows us how we have gotten to where we are. This theme has been in my thoughts as we continue to ensure the mission and vision of our Board is sustained in the most effective way possible.

As Mother Teresa once said: "I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things." Throughout this week, many opportunities existed for different sections of our division to come together in a systemic manner. We engaged with administrators, staff, students, parents/caregivers and community members at our second Review of School Effectiveness (ROSE); we met with school leadership at the Director's Leadership Team and senior leadership at a Senior Leadership Team meeting; we held our 2nd annual "Holocaust Symposium" for students and staff across the system; and we engaged with another school division in Saskatchewan to examine their process in finding significant efficiencies in a recent capital project. Each of these events from the past week were opportunities to learn and share as colleagues, educators and communities to review where we've been, and in considering where we are, take significant steps toward a new future.

On Monday, I began the week at Drake School as we continued our Review of School Effectiveness process. I would like to thank Drake School Principal, Donna Appel and her staff for opening their doors to us for the day. The SCC was also inviting as they provided sustenance throughout day and into the evening for our visiting principals and central office staff. The SCC also supported process as they joined other parents and members of the community for the parent and SCC feedback session in the evening. Throughout the day, it was obvious that the staff has a deep commitment to students and a strong desire to improve. There were many reasons to celebrate and while I very much anticipated it, I am happy to report that the three goals of Horizon School Division are a significant priority at Drake School. I would also like to congratulate Supervisor of Student Services, Jason Neville and Coordinator of Learning Services, Jan Paproski and Superintendent of Learning Services, Crandall Hrynkiw, as their work in preparing for the day resulted in a very successful review. I also want to thank visiting principals, Ken Koenig, Rick Hamel and Cheryl Farrell for being part of review team. Overall, the ROSE process has provided Donna and her staff the opportunity to reflect, and prepare for further reflection, celebrate, and prepare for further celebration, as they continue on their journey toward becoming an even more effective school.

On Tuesday, Horizon School Division held its second annual Holocaust Symposium. The event took place in Humboldt and I joined a number of guests, including our Education Minister, Honorable Don Morgan, Deputy Minister of Education, Julie MacRae, Chief Commissioner of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission (SHRC) Judge David Arnot and approximately 600 staff and Grade 11 students from across Horizon and Englefeld School Divisions. We were privileged to have in attendance Mr. Dan Virdi, an emissary from Israel who has been living in Saskatoon since last August. Dan shared his experience in Israel in modern times while interacting with students throughout his presentation. Mr. David Katzman, retired educator who works with the SHRC and an anti-racism organization called Voices into Action, shared his tremendous knowledge of anti-Semitism. Mr. Larry Mikulcik, teacher at William Derby School and lead facilitator of the day, shared resources and his vast knowledge on the Holocaust. Of course, the greatest anticipation was to listen to the Holocaust survivor in our midst, an opportunity very few get. The day culminated with the testimony of our very special guest, Mr. Nate Leipciger. Students and staff listened closely to his message as Nate shared his incredible story of hope and remembrance with students, staff and guests. Mr. Leipciger's experience as a young person at Auschwitz concentration camp filled everyone with emotion as it was clear his passion comes from a deep, selfless desire to prevent experiences such as his from happening to anyone else. Nate related his message to bullying and encouraged our students to be up- standers and speak for those who can't speak for themselves. I know this powerful message resonated with students and staff. The message was not just of the tragedy found in the death of six million Jews who were killed in this horrific ordeal, but was one of hope for those of us who continue to bear the responsibility of ensuring that any form of bullying has no place in our world. We were reminded not only of the victims and the perpetrators but of the failure of the bystanders to stand up to the bully and stop this from happening. We were reminded that this generation will be the last to hear the important message of the humility of humanity directly from a holocaust survivor. Mr. Leipciger's story is not just a story of our history but it is truly the story of our present and our future as we ensure that the world is a safe and caring place for all. Our youth will carry the responsibility of ensuring that we never forget the lessons learned nor forget the sacrifices and terrible losses that were part of this terrible time in our past. I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the countless hours of work and preparation that our MC and event organizer Mr. Larry Mikulcik and his team put in to the event and any who were there are certainly in his debt.

While the focus of the day was definitely on the students, I had opportunity to address other business. During a break at the symposium, I sat down for a quick meeting with Marie Moore, Secretary at Bruno School and Local CUPE President. It was great to have the chance to speak with Marie and I appreciated her willingness to come to the curling rink. CUPE negotiations continue and we begin to look towards finalizing our agreement to put forward for ratification. Following the symposium, I met with the Strategic Management Committee followed by the Joint Operations Committee to discuss Horizon's agreement with Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools (GSCS) in the operation of Humboldt Collegiate Institute. Trustee, Denis Bergerman sits on the JOC and Board Chair, Jim Hack has taken over the other seat after the loss of our trustee and friend, Kevin Grieman. Director of GSCS, Greg Chatlain, CFO, Joel Lloyd and Superintendent of HR, Al Boutin make up the administration for GSCS and Deputy Directors, Randy MacLEAN and Lionel Diederichs joined Superintendent of Finance Services, Marilyn Flaman and me as part of the administration team for Horizon. Melanie Grey, executive assistant to Lionel, provided our administrative support as we dealt with a number of issues including in-city bussing and a review of various budget-related items.

The Director's Leadership Team (DLT) held our monthly meeting on Wednesday where school administrators, Horizon senior leadership and central office staff gathered together to share information and engage in professional development. When we finished with our DLT meeting, the late afternoon stretched into the evening as I met with the other members of the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) for discussions and planning related to next year's budget.

On Thursday, I travelled to Regina for a workshop on the new Sask Reads for Administrator's document rollout. Superintendent of Student Services, Darrell Paproski, Supervisor of Literacy & Early Learning Services, Katherine Oviatt, literacy coaches Kim Junk and Trish Maxwell as well as principals Clay Parobec, Michele Presber and Janice Fansher joined me for a day of learning that will ultimately support administrators in literacy leadership. In the central office boardroom, the Administrator Induction Program for new administrators was simultaneously taking place, led by Randy MacLEAN and Todd Gjevre, Superintendent of Human Resource Services. I appreciate we have this great professional development opportunity for administrators new to their roles as they engage with their colleagues in learning about leadership issues and responsibilities in the system.

On Friday, Lionel Diederichs, Marilyn Flaman and I joined Justin Arendt, Superintendent of Operation Services and Kam Kiland, Manager of Facility Services in Kenaston for a meeting at the newly built Distance Learning Center for Sun West School Division. Sun West recently built the centre and we are looking at their construction process in terms of the work we will be doing Horizon. They were able to find significant savings for their project and we are looking to do the same as we consider creating a new central office in Humboldt.

I returned to Humboldt in time for a central office staff meeting where I shared that Marilyn Flaman, Superintendent of Finance Services will take on the added responsibility of Chief Financial Officer (CFO) when Lionel leaves at the end of July. Lionel has been an incredible asset to Horizon School Division, having spent the last three years as the Deputy Director and CFO. He has done an outstanding job of mentoring Marilyn and Justin in order that they are able to step into his very large shoes upon his departure. As a result of his efforts and the work of Justin and Marilyn, I will not be replacing the position of Deputy Director of Corporate Services but will be ensuring we have the necessary supports in place to support Finance and Operation Services. I will share more regarding the changes in the organizational structure of Horizon School Division in the upcoming weeks.

Fountas & Pinnell testing wrapped-up on Friday. Again, we take a brief look into the rear-view mirror as we consider our results with respect to the work we have done this year. We will be able to clearly see where we have been most effective and where we need to look deeper at our practice in meeting the needs of our students. With another two months left in the school year, we have the opportunity to use the data to support students before the school year ends. I would like to thank our administrators, teachers, support staff and students for their work in ensuring that these assessments are completed accurately and consistently. Our results are critical to ensure that we are moving forward with our literacy goals and recognizing where improvements can be made. I am anticipating strong results as we continue to focus on improving our practice in our classrooms.

I wrapped up the weekend by refereeing volleyball as many of our students competed in the Sask Volleyball provincial championships. I always appreciate being witness to the incredible skill our young people display and, more importantly, being witness to the outstanding sportsmanship of these same athletes. I can tell you first hand, our students impressed both on the court and off as they represented their teams and their communities in Saskatoon.

Have a great week, everyone.


-Kevin


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