Last week, our staff and Board wrapped up this year’s Horizon Christmas Hamper Project for students and families in need. Supporting 403 children and 153 families, this was our biggest year yet and required the generosity, support, and work of many individuals within Horizon School Division and our communities. You can read more about the project in our media release, here. It also took a great deal of planning, prep work, and shopping. I would like to especially thank executive assistants, Marni Sogge and Melanie Gray, and admin assistants, Kim Loose and Nicole Fitzpatrick, for their work in the days and weeks leading up to our packing event last Wednesday. Our central office staff and Board Members pitched in to pack and wrap these gifts, and I cannot thank them enough for making this all possible. The holidays can be a difficult time for some and I am very proud of Horizon and our Christmas Hampers for making the season a little brighter for the children and families in need in our communities. We continued our Learning Improvement Plan (LIP) review meetings in schools last week. Superintendent of Student Services, Darrell Paproski, Assistant Superintendent of Student Services, Jason Neville, and I met with principals at Archerwill School, Rose Valley School, Kelvington High School, and Robert Melrose Elementary School on Monday. On Tuesday, we travelled to Ituna School, Foam Lake Composite, Foam Lake Elementary, and Wynyard Elementary.As our staff and Trustees packaged Christmas Hampers on Wednesday, I was away at meetings including in William Derby School. I returned to the office that afternoon, where I met with Crandall Hrynkiw, who is working as the Project Manager for SaskMATH, the Education Sector Strategic Plan (ESSP) Priority which I am the primary owner. Crandall and I had a chance to discuss the SaskMATH working group meeting being held in our central office the next day.On Wednesday afternoon, I had the chance to speak with CJVR to share about Horizon’s Christmas Hamper Project. Several of our local media shared the news about this important project, and I look forward to furthering opportunities around this work in years to come thanks to the interest we’ve received from community partners. On Wednesday evening, I joined Superintendent of Operation Services, Justin Arendt in Bruno for a meeting with the Rural Municipality (RM). A request has been received by the RM to build a gravel pit in the land adjacent to the school and both Justin and I shared the numerous needs of the school division in ensuring student and staff safety at all times.On Thursday, Horizon central office hosted approximately 45 educators from across the province for our first SaskMATH working group meeting. We had a fantastic day full of critical discussions, planning exercises, and decisions for moving this collaborative work forward toward developing an online resource for Math assessment and instruction for Saskatchewan teachers. In addition to teachers from across the province, we were joined by Assistant Deputy Minister of Education, Susan Nedelcov-Anderson, who brought greetings on behalf of the Ministry. Susan is also a member of the Provincial Leadership Team along with Directors of Education from across the province including from our First Nation authorities. Sharon Meyer and Dr. Glen Aikenhead also joined us to discuss their Sterling McDowell Research Project: “Culture-Based School Mathematics for Reconciliation and Professional Development”. As we work to build the resource in both English and French, a continual focus will be on indigenizing the work and Sharon and Glen did a great job of leading us in that work. Finally, Katherine Oviatt, Supervisor of Literacy and Early Learning did a tremendous job leading our working team through discussions on the Critical Why as well as getting to the big ideas in math before we turned the working teams over to beginning their work. I want to thank this group of leaders as well as our working team for the inspiring us throughout the day as we worked to support Math achievement for Saskatchewan students.On Thursday evening, I travelled to the George Gordon First Nation Band Office for a meeting with Chief Byron Bitternose and members of his Council. Superintendent Darrell Paproski joined me for this meeting along with Horizon’s Supervisor of First Nation, Métis, and Inuit Services, Bryan McNabb. We enjoy a positive partnership with George Gordon in the operation of the George Gordon Education Centre, and our chance to meet with Chief and his Council around the education agreement we have is both necessary and appreciated. We have been working for the last 6 months on finalizing a new agreement with George Gordon First Nation and the final agreement is nearing completion.Our LIP review meetings took us to LeRoy School and New Horizon Hutterian School on Friday. Prior to going to see Jocelyn Armbruster in New Horizon, Darrell and I took a detour to Punnichy Community High School where we joined the staff, Bryan McNabb, and trustees Albert Pinacie and Paul Crow-Buffalo for a traditional First Nation feast. This was the first time I have been able to participate in a traditional feast and both Darrell and I appreciated the opportunity to learn from the Elder and from our trustees, staff, and students. As Darrell and I could not finish our meals, we got to take them with us. We found a tree off the beaten path on our travels to the Colony and dumped out the remainder of our soup. In order to ensure we were doing this in traditional fashion, we spread tobacco over the soup. As I said, it was a great experience and one I won’t soon forget.We finished the week with our Board and Central Office Christmas Party in Humboldt. The holidays are one of my favourite times of the year, in large part thanks to the time we get to spend with those we care about. I want to thank our Board for their continued support of the evening and for Mark Fedak and Cheryl Vertefeuille for sharing a few messages on behalf of our Board. I also want to thank Jan Paproski, Coordinator of Student Services, for her work in putting the details of the party together as well as Marni Sogge and Kim Loose for their hands in a great deal of the initial organization. Finally, a special thanks to Chris Nienaber and Bruce Maxwell for leading us in a fantastic game of Family Feud for staff, trustees, and family members. I know Bruce, Chris, and Kyle Lamont all had a hand in building the game for us to enjoy.As we head into the final week of school before the holiday break, I remain humbled and grateful for the incredible opportunities we have had already this holiday season to support each other and our children and families. Author of The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran said, “You give but little when you give of your possessions.
It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” I continue to be inspired by and am so thankful to be part of the great group of people that make up Horizon School Division and who give every day toward, “Creating a Better World, One Student at a Time”.Have a great week, everyone. #HorizonStrong- Kevin
Kevin C. Garinger B.Ed., M.A.Ed.
Director of Education/CEO
Horizon School Division No. 205