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Horizon School Division
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January 27, 2019 - a message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education

January 27, 2020

We were finally able to escape the frigid temperatures without having to head south of our border. I know the weather has certainly been appreciated for our schools as it has allowed our children to enjoy the wonders of play outside the walls of the school. It also has made travel less anxious for many of our parents and staff and children and our only hope is that it can hang on as long as possible with March just around the corner and spring to follow after that. As author, Anne Bradstreet stated, “If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”

The League of Educational Administrators, Directors, and Superintendents (LEADS) executive held a meeting on Monday morning to follow-up on our meetings the week before. We have been discussing the LEADS budget and various policy items in our recent meeting, and I appreciated the chance to discuss these further.

At central office on Monday, Superintendent of Finance Services/CFO, Sarah Reding, Executive Assistant, Melanie Gray, and Communication Services Officer, Lance Hiltz met with Ron Walter to begin their preparations for next fall’s Board elections. Ron provided training and guidance for our staff leading up to the election in 2016, and we thank him for his support once again.  

The provincial SaskMATH working committee met at Horizon central office on Tuesday for the group’s second meeting. I want to thank Horizon’s Supervisor of Literacy & Early Learning Services, Katherine Oviatt, for leading the group through their work on Tuesday. Katherine organized two very important presentations with two professionals from Good Spirit School Division who helped us provide a clear vision for the work in SaskMATH. Lana Steiner and Cindy Smith were instrumental in some foundational groundwork with other math consultants and this has certainly provided an excellent example of where our work can and will go. I want to Crandall Hrynkiw, Project Manager for helping to organize the day and to thank our working committee members for their commitment to this important endeavor. The resources being developed by this team will be incredibly powerful for our sector and educators across Saskatchewan.

Also on Tuesday, Darrell Paproski and Todd Gjevre joined Board Vice-Chair Linda Mattock, and Trustees, Mark Fedak and Christine Gradin in Wynyard for their Celebration Day Lunch at Wynyard Composite High School. During our Celebration Day event to kick off the new school year, we announce a number of schools that receive a “Celebration Day Lunch”. The opportunity consists of lunch for school staff, which they enjoy while our Trustees and senior leadership take care of student supervision for the noon hour. I was glad our trustees and central office staff were able to step in while I was attending to the SaskMATH workshop.

My Director’s Leadership Team of Principals, Vice Principals, and central office leaders met for a day of professional development at the Horizon office on Thursday. We were very fortunate to have Geraldine Knudsen, legal counsel with the Saskatchewan School Boards Association (SSBA), join us for a presentation and discussion around LAFOIP. The Local Authority Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, which governs matters of information and privacy for school divisions, is a critical component for so much of our administrative work as a sector. It ensures the protection of private information and allows a process by which individuals can access information housed within our programs and systems. Since this Act is so important for our everyday administrative work, we were very happy to have Geraldine join us for this in-depth conversation and refresher for our central office and school-based administrators. We also went through a number of Human Resource case studies with Deputy Director, Randy MacLEAN, and finished off our day with a book study I am leading for the group, looking at Coherence, by Michael Fullan and Joanne Quinn.

Last Thursday was a historic day for Horizon School Division and many of our partner agencies. We held a ceremony to sign the Horizon School Division Violence Threat Risk Assessment Protocol, along with a number of the protocol’s signatories. We were joined at the ceremony by trustees, Linda Mattock, Jennifer Lemky, and Dave Holinaty as well as many of our central office staff. I first want to thank our Board of Education for their vision around safe and caring and for their mission that drives us toward ensuring the safety of our students, staff, and families. Donovan Fisher, Superintendent, RCMP "F" Division, Heather Miller, Manager of Service Delivery, Ministry of Social Services, Child and Family Programs, Tracy Gulka, Director, Community Corrections, Central Region, Ministry of Corrections and Policing, Cheridy Machiskinic, Emergency Measures Coordinator, Touchwood Agency Tribal Council, Janine Hart, Executive Director, The Humboldt Regional Newcomer Centre, Shari Hinz, Executive Director, Safe Communities Humboldt & Area, and Derek Dagenais, Advanced Care Paramedic Supervisor, Humboldt and District Ambulance Services were in attendance to sign the historic document. We also have an agreement for signatories from the Saskatchewan Health Authority, Ministry of Education, Saskatoon Tribal Council, PARTNERS Family Services, and the Humboldt Fire Department and expect the signatory page to grow as the protocol becomes operationalized. We previously received a signature from Kevin Cameron, whose North American Center for Threat Assessment and Trauma Response developed the VTRA process Horizon has utilized for many years. The Horizon School Division Violence Threat Risk Assessment Protocol will be a guiding document whenever there is a risk or threat of violence in the school community.  The protocol document outlines the multi-agency threat assessment procedure to gather the appropriate information, build a data-driven assessment, monitor the situation, and intervene to prevent violence in the community. The signing of this document is a formalized commitment between Horizon and our partners to adhere to a universal protocol across all communities in our system. Violence prevention in our schools and our neighbourhoods is a community responsibility. All community partners work together to promote and maintain safety and to strive to prevent violence and I thank them for their passion for being part of this multi-tiered plan. I want to thank Superintendent of Student Services, Darrell Paproski, Coordinator of Student Services, Jan Paproski, and former Superintendent of Learning Services, Crandall Hrynkiw for the relationship-building leading up to this signing. Finally, I also want to thank our Assistant Superintendent of Student Services, Jason Neville, for his outstanding work to bring all of the partners to the table and truly mobilize the protocol that will allow us to establish a consistent process for dealing with threats of potential violence to self and others. For photos and more information, see our media release,here.

I left the VTRA signing and traveled from our office in Humboldt to schools in Wynyard, Foam Lake, and Ituna on Thursday afternoon before heading to Saskatoon on Friday.

Have a great week, everyone. Stay #HorizonStrong.

- Kevin

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