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Horizon School Division
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May 24, 2019 - A message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education

May 27, 2019

I trust everyone had a great long weekend. Students had an extra-long break which was certainly beneficial as we begin the sprint to the finish line that is the 2018-19 school year. It is hard to believe this year is nearly behind us. Each year seems to speed up on me for some reason. I remember my father, who was a teacher, talking about this phenomenon that seems to only happen in education and to only those of us in the last trimester of our careers. As I reflect now, I seem to recall every year going by quickly. I believe it is because those of us in education have and always will be some of the busiest people in the world. I suppose it’s amplified now with my chronological age as some say I may be in the last trimester of my life too. I’m still too far away to even think about retirement - although retirement planning is something all of us need to think about early and yearly in our careers. But for those staff across our system who are planning to retire the end of June and to bring their careers in our system to a close, I want to remind you of these words by Norman Peale, the acclaimed author of “The Power of Positive Thinking”. If you haven’t read it, I urge you to consider it for your summer reading list. He makes this statement about living, “Live your life and forget your age”. I appreciate that quote. We can do anything we want in our lives. Age should not be our only barrier. Put it this way – one of the most difficult things I could think of doing would be to climb Mount Everest. It is certainly true that I cannot climb that “tallest” of mountains. The reason is not my age though. I would need to learn so many things about mountain climbing skills, overcoming fears, and braving the elements. But keep in mind, I would need to do all of that at any age and I certainly wouldn’t let my age be my reason for not getting to the summit if I desired to make it happen. You never know…the oldest person to ever climb Mount Everest was 80. I’ve still got some time to consider it. “The Power of Positive Thinking”...I think I’m going to read Peale again!    

I began this past week, following the long weekend, conducting interviews for the position of Supervisor of First Nation, Métis, & Inuit Education. We spoke with a number of qualified, impressive candidates, each with a clear passion for education and FNMI opportunities. I look forward to sharing more soon in regards to the successful candidate who will be moving this critical work forward in support of students and families.

I then travelled to Raymore that afternoon to meet with the Director of Education of Prairie Valley School Division and his Board Chair and Vice Chair. I was grateful that my Board Chair and Vice Chair, Jim Hack and Linda Mattock were able to attend as well. Our goal was to continue our discussions relating to student transportation and to continue our work for strengthening our relationships and looking for win-win solutions to ultimately support the needs of the students, families, and system.

The Director’s Leadership Team (DLT) of principals, vice principals, and senior leaders met at Central Office for a day of professional development on Wednesday. Among other discussion items and information sessions, we looked in-depth at the upcoming province-wide student information system (SIS), MySchoolSask. I want to thank Linda Kindrachuk, our SIS expert, as well as Cory Popoff, principal of HCI, learning resource teacher, Jim Swan, Coordinator of Information Services, Ken Sogge, Superintendent of Operational Services/COO, Justin Arendt, for sharing. During our meeting, we also shared an update about the 2019-2020 budget. I wanted to share that information with you, I provided a link for you here. I want to thank everyone, our staff and Trustees, for their efforts to bring the budget together in another financially challenging year for our province.

Following our DLT sessions, I met with Rob Lissinna, principal of Kelvington High School, to discuss the School’s Learning Improvement Plan (LIP). We were joined by Superintendent of Learning Services, Crandall Hrynkiw, and Superintendent of Student Services, Darrell Paproski. We continued our LIP reviews on Thursday and Friday, travelling to Lanigan Community High School, Lanigan Elementary School, Englefeld School, St. Brieux School, Three Lakes School, Lake Lenore School, and Annaheim School. I look forward to many more conversations with our school administrators about the work happening in schools and classrooms to support our children.

On Thursday late afternoon, I joined attended a meeting of the Saskatchewan Chapter of the Risk and Insurance Management Society in Saskatoon, where I presented to their group on the Division’s response to tragedy.

Central Office had 31 visitors last Thursday and Friday, taking part in Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST). Teachers, EAs, counsellors, and several partner organization representatives completed the training, which was facilitated by Horizon counsellors, Danny Hiscock and Paula Kessler. I want to thank everyone involved for their commitment to learning and supporting students in need. Mental health awareness continues to become more and more accepted practice and I am grateful our children and adults alike can talk openly about how it may be affecting them.

To finish the week, I had the chance to stop in at the office and catch up on a couple of matters before making my way to Strasbourg for the grad ceremony at William Derby School. This was an extra special grad for me as the Class of 2019 was in Kindergarten during my final year as a principal at William Derby. It was also the final grade 12 class of Deb Schwandt-Kelln’s principal career, as she is retiring at the end of the year. She is being joined in retirement by excellence in teaching award winner, Ms Wendy Gottselig. The entire evening ceremony was exceptional and I was honoured to bring greetings on behalf of the Division, along with Trustee, Dr Cheryl Vertefeuille, who brought greetings on behalf of the Board.

In addition to William Derby, there were graduation ceremonies held at Schell School, Quill Lake School, and Ituna School this past Friday. This year, Schell School Principal, Mr Fred Curts will also be retiring. Fred is the longest standing principal in Horizon, having been in that position in Schell School for more than 20 years. I want to take this opportunity to thank Fred for his incredible work as a leader within Horizon and its legacy Divisions. Finally, I will close this week sharing a huge congratulations to all our students on this major milestone in your lives. Horizon School Division is proud of everything you have accomplished, and of the fine young people, you have become. We wish you all the best in the years ahead…Oh, the places you will go!

Have a great week, everyone. Stay #HorizonStrong.


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