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Horizon School Division
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January 13, 2020 - a message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education

January 13, 2020

Welcome to 2020, everyone! I hope you had a restful break and an excellent first week of class. In preparing for this new year, I came across the following quote from Ellen Goodman, a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist and journalist, who said, “We spend January 1st walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives...not looking for flaws, but for potential”. In so many ways, potential is a major focus of our work in education. The potential of our students, of course, as well as our colleagues and communities, our system, our sector, and ourselves. As we begin a new year and decade, I am going to take some time to think about the opportunities that we will have over the next few months and years to reach our own potential and, in doing so, help our students and colleagues reach theirs.  

Over the break, our central office staff had the opportunity to take part in a Kairos Blanket Exercise in our Boardroom. Facilitators, Darrell Isbister (Coordinator for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Education for Saskatoon Public Schools), Lori McAuley (program coordinator with Saskatoon Tribal Council) and Albert Scott (language and culture coordinator with Saskatoon Tribal Council), lead staff through the exercise covering 400 years of history from the perspective of Canada’s First Nations and Métis. The powerful experience was brought in for staff and coordinated by Executive Assistant, Melanie Gray, who had gone through the exercise recently and knew it would be a powerful professional development opportunity for staff. We are very grateful for the knowledge our facilitators brought to this experience and look forward to continued conversations, paradigm shifts, and educational opportunities in support of our work to achieve reconciliation within Horizon School Division and beyond. Of course, continued opportunity to incorporate the teachings into our schools with staff and eventually students is of tremendous potential.

We welcomed students back to our classrooms last Monday, and I’m sure our staff and students were very excited to be together once again and share about how they spent their break. I know some of our staff and likely students enjoyed warmer temperatures south of the border while others, like me, enjoyed a “staycation”. Whatever choice you made, I trust it was relaxing and rejuvenating.

On Tuesday morning, I joined my Director’s Leadership Team of school principals, vice principals, and central office leadership for a video conference meeting. Our discussion included important information for our schools and system in the upcoming months. We talked about our upcoming School Community Council (SCC) elections and the SCC workshop that will be held in Humboldt. The workshop is currently scheduled for March 4 and the Board committee will finalize whether it will be held during the day or in the evening. We also discussed some preliminary information on a Humboldt Broncos Legacy Bursary that is in development, and updates from the Human Resource Services and Student Services teams.

On Wednesday morning, we held a meeting to set the agenda for next week’s regular monthly meeting of the Board. Chair Jim Hack, joined us via video conference, and Vice Chair Linda Mattock joined us at the office. I shared the items I will be bringing to our Board, as did Deputy Director, Randy MacLEAN, and Superintendent of Operational Services/COO, Justin Arendt.

I spent my Thursday morning in a meeting with Touchwood Agency Tribal Council (TATC), along with Superintendent of Student Services, Darrell Paproski, Supervisor of First Nation, Métis & Inuit Education Services, Bryan McNabb, and Supervisor of Literacy & Early Learning Services, Katherine Oviatt. TATC includes Day Star First Nation, George Gordon First Nation, Kawacatoose First Nation, and Muskowekwan First Nation. As we continue our collaborative work to renew  education agreements with our First Nation partners – as we did earlier this year with Day Star First Nation – our partnership and work with TATC is so critical in ensuring the voice of each partner is understood.  

Following our meeting at the TATC office, I travelled to Strasbourg to meet with William Derby School teacher and President of the Horizon Teachers’ Association (HTA), Gerard Frison. Gerard and I had a great conversation as we began discussions related to the dates that impact teachers and that are associated with the 2020-21 calendar. As always, and I appreciate the working relationship we enjoy in support of HTA membership, our Board, and our system as a whole.

As I think about these relationships, I am reminded about our Christmas Hamper project and the countless supporters who contribute to this worthwhile cause. Again, the relationship we hold dear with our CUPE membership is so necessary and important. As they have in past years, CUPE members, through their president and Bruno School secretary, Marie Moore, provided monetary support to the project. In my view, this not only speaks to the commitment all staff have to children and families within Horizon, but clearly highlights the relationships that we hold most dear in our school division.

I began my day on Friday in a teleconference meeting with the Provincial Leadership Team. The PLT includes my fellow Directors of Education from across Saskatchewan, personnel from the Ministry of Education, and First Nations partners. The main discussion was focused on the education sector plan for 2020 and beyond. More information will be shared regarding the plan in the upcoming weeks as it continues to be formalized and operationalized. Back in central office, we held a birthday potluck during our morning break, celebrating staff who had/have birthdays in the months leading up to January. This is a new practice we’re trying out for central office staff – having a single celebration once a month to recognize that month’s birthdays. Many of our central office staff are often out working in schools when these celebrations have been scheduled in the past so we hope this will support our continued work as well as to celebrate people’s lives.

On Friday, I met with Crandall Hrynkiw and Katherine Oviatt to discuss the ongoing work of our provincial SaskMATH resource development. Our next provincial working group meeting is scheduled for January 21 in Humboldt at our central office. I want to thank Katherine for her tremendous work in preparing for this upcoming meeting and Crandall who also has and will continue to provide valuable support to the project. As the next months unfold, I look very forward to the continued development of this online resource for educators in our province.

With the cold snap we’ve been experiencing, I want to take this opportunity to share the following resource from Environment Canada… Seven Steps to Cold Weather Safety. The site has excellent tips to keep in mind for ourselves, our family members, and our children in our care. It’s easy to take our safety for granted when it comes to something as common as cold weather in Saskatchewan, so it is important to keep these tips in mind when the thermometer is dipping as low as it has and will during these January days. Stay warm, stay safe, and stay #HorizonStrong. 

Have a great week, everyone.

- Kevin

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