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Horizon School Division
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September 23, 2019 A Message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education

September 23, 2019

I want to begin this week with a thought and an apology. First my thought. When things go well, we should blame leadership. And when things don’t go well, we should also blame leadership. I remember eating at a Boston Pizza in Calgary. It was obvious the waitress was new and was truly struggling with her responsibilities which included way too many tables for even a seasoned veteran. Nonetheless, as things unravelled and our order was mostly wrong and even forgotten, it would have been easy to blame the young employee who was trying her best. Instead, we called the manager. The idea was to share with him the mistake he had made in not ensuring the conditions were ready for this young employee and the business, in general, to be successful. I feel a similar sense when it comes to ASPEN. Firstly, I know that we have moved the pendulum when it comes to supporting the new program in the system. Our secretaries and teachers have done great work and our data for the 2019-20 school year is mostly in. However, the training processes that should have been implemented, much like those at that BP’s in Calgary were not implemented as effectively as they could or should have been. A week ago on Tuesday, a meeting was called to which I was a part of. We discussed the current process and the necessary future process that needed to be in place. Our HTA Liaison committee was put in place to work through matters such as the MySchoolSask implementation and a plan was born from those critical discussions. That plan was not implemented as effectively as was described through the liaison work and for that reason, it created some frustrations when we had our first collaborative opportunity. That falls squarely on my shoulders as the Director of Education and for that, I also need to share my apologies. Of course, the meeting also yielded the great direction that was necessary to bring MSS back squarely on the rails and continue to move it forward in an even more effective manner.

So on Monday morning, September 23rd, we will train educators and secretaries once again. Secretaries have had the opportunity to work in ASPEN for nearly a month now and are ready for the very specific questions related to their needs while we will train a group of teachers representative of every school in Horizon so that they can be lead teachers in their schools. It took us a restart in some ways but the message that collaboration has brought out the best opportunity for success that was stated by HTA President, Gerard Frison at the Teachers’ Convention was accurate. We just needed to ensure all the pieces were in place…and we’re ensuring that now. Onward and upward, but never without remembering the lessons learned.

I began my week in Strasbourg, meeting with Principal Kamille Lech and discussing a number of items for her school and her students. I then met with Gerard Frison who, as teachers know, works at William Derby School and serves as the Horizon Teachers’ Association (HTA) President. I greatly appreciate any opportunity to meet with Gerard and discussing our shared focus of supporting and empowering teachers. We have much to discuss these days, as the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation (STF), the Government of Saskatchewan, and the Saskatchewan School Boards Association (SSBA) are currently engaged in their provincial collective bargaining process.

Our Board Trustees met on Wednesday for their regular September board meeting. On the agenda were such items as our opening day enrolments, information on the upcoming Director’s appraisal, and planning for our central office grand opening event. Our Superintendent of Finance Services/CFO, Sarah Reding, provided information around school-based budgets. Deputy Director of Education, Randy MacLEAN, provided his Human Resource Services report. Superintendent of Operational Services/COO, Justin Arendt provided his reports on Transportation, Facilities, and Information Services. It was a very productive meeting, during which our Board passed a unanimous motion not to place any Horizon schools under viability review. While there are often population challenges in rural Saskatchewan, our Board is passionately committed to the students, communities, schools, and families they serve. Of course, the need to continue to look at the most effective ways to meet the needs of our students is also something the Board and every parent and staff member in Horizon consider and need to consider as we look to our future.

Following the Board meeting, I joined a couple of teleconferences with my fellow Directors' of Education. The first was to gain insight on a legal matter relating to copyright, and the second was a meeting of the Provincial Leadership Team (PLT). The PLT includes personnel from the Deputy Minister’s Office of the Ministry of Education including our Deputy Minister, Rob Currie and my fellow Directors. During our teleconference, we discussed results and data from the 2018-19 school year, relating to the goals and outcomes of the Education Sector Strategic Plan (ESSP) goals and outcomes.  

On Wednesday evening, approximately 1000 students and advisors came together in Watrous for the three-day “Take Action” Saskatchewan Student Leadership Conference hosted by Winston High School. I had the opportunity to join them for the opening ceremonies, along with our Trustee for Subdivision 3, Jennifer Lemky. I brought greetings and spoke about how proud we are of our young leaders and how important they are for our schools to be safe and caring places for learning. I want to thank the many students, staff and community members in Watrous and area, Watrous Elementary School and Winston High School for their years of planning and preparation. Hosting this conference is a major feat, and I especially want to thank the students of Winston High, Principal Terry Braman, and the conference co-chairs, Tina Edwards and Lori Bartko. Without their incredible work, this conference would not have been the success it was. For photos and posts from the conference, you can visit the “Take Action” Facebook page at facebook.com/takeactionsslc2019.

I was in Regina for meetings on Thursday. The morning began with a meeting regarding the SaskMATH priority, which I lead along with Duane Hauk, Director from Northwest School Division. My fellow Directors and I then joined our province’s Board of Education Chairs and other members of the SSBA for a presentation from the British Columbia School Trustees Association (BCSTA). The presentation from the BCSTA brought information and insights from their recent experience with collective bargaining. Following this, our province’s Board Chairs met for their council meeting and the Co-chairs of the PLT along with one other Director and I shared information and updates regarding cycle four of the ESSP.  

At Horizon’s central office on Friday, we held a farewell luncheon for Darlene Kirzinger. Darlene was a payroll administrator with Horizon and she is moving on to new opportunities. It was great to have our staff come together, thank Darlene for her years of service. We were fortunate to have her on our team and wish her all the best. I then travelled to Watson to meet with Principal, Jay Fitzsimmons. On Wednesday, one of our parents from Watson School was tragically killed in a work accident and we deployed our TERT team led by Jason Neville and Jan Paproski, to provide any supports necessary to ensure the needs of our students and staff were met. Our thoughts and or prayers of all of Horizon are with our family including our two young students who have lost their father.

I hope each of you has a great week, Horizon. #HorizonStrong

- Kevin

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