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January 20, 2020 - a message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education
January 20, 2020
It has been some time since we’ve experienced an entire week like this one. The wind, combined with frigid temperatures, ensured that on at least one occasion, every bus in Horizon was kept off our highways and backroads. As much as we can hope for the forecast to change, I remain grateful that we are able to keep our schools open and look after those children whose parents are able to get them to school. It is truly remarkable how many students across our system are able to get into our classrooms during such a horrible cold snap. It is truly one of the reasons we never close schools…and I know we are not alone in that respect. At the same time, it is imperative that our staff, who are often travelling to work and home on these same highways, are also doing so in a safe manner. And I want to share a favourite quote that I live by with you. When you’re back at home and the day is complete, remember the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson who said, “Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day.” My challenge is always in the forgetting as the blunders seem to be many!
I started my week being able to get to schools including Drake School, where I spent some time meeting with Principal Brad Knudsen and Nokomis School, where I met with Principal Kalie Hendry. Following these opportunities for discussion, I continued down the highway to Strasbourg and William Derby School, where I met with teacher and Horizon Teachers’ Association (HTA) President, Gerard Frison. Gerard and I always have a lot to discuss, and while we continue discussing considerations for the 2020-21 calendar, we will be working closely together to ensure the dates meet the needs of our students and staff.
On Monday evening, I joined the Heritage Classic Advisory Board in Regina for a thank-you supper and event debrief. As you may recall, I had the honour of representing our school division and community on this board and we were very proud of the successful game and weekend of events that came together back in October. Through this opportunity, approximately 600 students and numerous staff from across Horizon were able to enjoy the opportunity to watch an outdoor game…often a once in a lifetime experience. It was tremendous to have the opportunity to reflect on the event and to have been part of such a historic event for our capital city and province as well as for the NHL.
On Tuesday, I was once again fortunate to be able to be in our schools, this time spending significant time in the Foam Lake and Wynyard areas. It is always important to have the opportunity to share in dialogue with staff regarding matters that are impacting their work so I felt fortunate to have this time as I was dealing with other pressing issues. As Senior Vice President of Apple, Angela Ahrendts states, “Everyone talks about building a relationship with your customer. I think you build one with your employees first.”
Horizon’s Board held their monthly meeting last Wednesday, January 15. Several of our Trustees joined the meeting via teleconference or WebEx videoconference, and I want to thank our Information Services team for helping us set that up. Having this technology readily available in our boardroom certainly makes meeting remotely a more effective experience. On the agenda for this month were such items as a preliminary discussion of our 2020-2021 school year calendar development, enrolment projections, our ongoing work to update education agreements with First Nations partners, and Horizon’s upcoming School Community Council workshops. I also shared some early information about bursaries being developed by the Humboldt Broncos Memorial Golf Tournament, which will be available for graduating Horizon students. The Board’s Governance Committee shared a report recommending an update to Board Policy 7 Section 13 regarding Board professional development. They also reviewed their Annual Board Appraisal Report, which includes their Advocacy Plan and 2019-2020 Positive Path Forward. Superintendent of Finance Services/CFO, Sarah Reding, provided information regarding the Board’s indemnity form and the potential for streamlining that document. Deputy Director Randy MacLEAN joined the meeting to provide his staffing update from Human Resource Services and Superintendent of Operational Services/COO, Justin Arendt, provided reports from Operational Services – Transportation Services, Information Services, Facility Services.
The provincial SaskMATH reference committee and subcommittee held a meeting via teleconference on Thursday morning. As the owner of this Education Sector Strategic Plan (ESSP) priority, I have been extremely impressed with the work that has been done on this project, and the planning in place for the coming months. I have to take this opportunity to thank Katherine Oviatt, Supervisor of Literacy and Early Learning Services. Katherine has worked closely with Priority Manager, Crandall Hrynkiw and myself in developing the plans and the direction for our work. Our discussions last Thursday were largely surrounding our next working committee meeting being held at Horizon central office on January 21. With educators and partners from across the province and sector coming together for our second meeting, I look forward to continuing our work to develop this online resource for Saskatchewan’s teachers.
To finish the week, I spent Thursday evening and Friday in Saskatoon for meetings with the League of Educational Administrators, Directors, and Superintendents (LEADS) executive. I am proud to serve as a member of our LEADS executive, and appreciate the time and insights of all involved, who each have a critical role in our sector’s leadership. Our work and the work of our executive director, Ben Grebinski, has served to develop a number of important policies and procedures that will continue to ensure our members are well-served as they serve the needs of children and staff.
Have a great week, everyone. #HorizonStrong
Kevin C. Garinger B.Ed., M.A.Ed.
Director of Education/CEO
Horizon School Division No. 205