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Horizon School Division
Creating a better world, one student at a time.
News Item

May 13, 2016 - A Message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education

August 08, 2016

As I reflect on the last two years, I am excited and humbled by how much we’ve grown as a system. You see, I arrived in Horizon almost exactly 2 years ago and at the time, I felt very much like I was coming home…for the most part, I was. I reconnected with old friends and colleagues and met people that I had known from my previous work life in Saskatchewan. But while so much was the same, there is no denying that time and experience has changed each of us and I returned having learned and grown personally and professionally as a result of experience and professional learning. Each of you have found the same opportunities for growth both in your current roles and will find new opportunities for growth in new challenges that you are likely looking very forward to. It is my hope and anticipation that wherever you end up, it will be the place where your best work will occur. There will be changes within your own schools – new assignments to take on or even new administrators or teachers coming on board. I know that if there are new people, each of them will add to the skills you already bring to your school life and that together, you will continue to look for the most effective opportunities to enhance Horizon classrooms and make them the best place for learning anywhere in the province. It is true that optimum learning is the result of adults and students jointly putting their best efforts and passions forward and, from what I’ve seen, Horizon is very much on the right path. 

I am invigorated by the growth in our system as I meet with administrators to discuss their Learning Improvement Plans. Learning Improvement Plans (LIPs) represent the power of collaboration in our system. LIPs help us realize our Horizon Board’s Strategic Plan, which in turn helps us reach the outcomes of the Education Sector Strategic Plan and ultimately improve learning for all students. School staffs work together to develop these plans and it is obvious that we are beginning to see the fruits of our labours. Recently, the Board had the opportunity to hear from Darrell Paproski and Katherine Oviatt, Supervisor of Literacy and Early Learning Services, and the results they were presented related to our students’ literacy growth, was inspiring…to say the least. Overall in Horizon, we have improved from our fall data to a point where we have nearly 8% fewer students below level, based on our Fountas and Pinnell assessment. If we consider what we accomplished last year, we actually saw a regression of 1% from fall to spring data. When you consider that, it’s an improvement of nearly 9% in the year over year comparison. These results translate into 9% more students at or above level in Horizon! This is incredible growth and speaks directly to the work of each of you, our school staffs, working together with the support and guidance of our school and division administrators, all of whom are focused on our narrow and necessary system-wide targets. Of course, these results ultimately lead to a realization that more of our students are reading and we know that if we want to improve our reading scores, our students have to read. Well, they are…and they’re improving! Congratulations to each of you, our Horizon employees, for your work in supporting our students on their learning journey. Recently, I asked that our teachers complete another F & P assessment in June for those grade three students who are approaching level or who may have grown to level. We had over two months to get our grade 3 children to level and if in fact we do, we will only be three percent below the 2020 target for literacy in the Education Sector Strategic Plan. This is remarkable, to say the least! As we move toward next year, I’m anticipating we can eclipse this measure and continue on our path toward all students reading at level. We’re certainly much closer today than we were even a year ago and I have utmost in confidence that we can get there. I suppose the only thing left is to say, “thank you”…and that thanks is on behalf of our children.

On Monday morning, Superintendents Crandall Hrynkiw, Darrell Paproski and I headed to Kelvington High School, Rose Valley School, Archerwill School and Annaheim School for their LIP reviews. Our discussions were reflections on the data and evidence that has been collected in support of each school’s goals. These meetings not only help review the progress of the school’s goals but also serve as foundations for future planning for the remainder of this year and successive years.

Between meetings, I had a phone conversation with Trevor Smith, Chief Operating Officer of the Saskatchewan Professional Teachers Regulatory Board (STPRB) in relation to a staffing matter. Trevor is a tremendous resource and has lead SPTRB in a very positive direction for the province and its teachers. Although STPRB is very new, officially coming into being in July of last year, Trevor’s leadership has moved the organization very quickly toward being a very valuable partner for regulating our province’s teaching profession. For any of our contracted or substitute teachers, we are required to register with SPTRB every year and Randy MacLEAN, Deputy Director, will be sharing information with you that the registration for 2016-17 must take place between June 1st and August 31st. Please remember to watch for this memo and to act quickly to get the process completed.

On Tuesday, I had the pleasure of introducing Mr. Kevin Cameron as he joined us in Humboldt to lead our staff and community partners in Level-1 Violence Threat Risk Assessment (VTRA) training. Kevin is Executive Director of the Canadian Centre for Threat Assessment & Trauma Response. With knowledge of the VTRA protocol, our staff and community partners are prepared to act swiftly and diligently should a situation arise posing a threat to student, staff or community safety. By engaging in this training, as a large number of our staff has already done, we are committing to a process that supports providing a safe and caring school environment for all students and staff. The two-day session wrapped up on Wednesday afternoon and I would like to thank Superintendent of Learning Services, Crandall Hrynkiw and his team of Jan Paproski, Coordinator of Learning Service and Shelley Schell, admin assistant, for coordinating the training. While VTRA training was underway, Darrell, Crandall and I continued our LIP discussions with visits to Lake Lenore School and Muenster School.

On Tuesday evening, I joined CFO Lionel Diederichs and the Englefeld Protestant Separate School Division Board of Education for their regular monthly meeting. At this meeting, we discussed our preliminary budget for the 2016-2017 school year. Of course, this budget won’t be finalized until after the provincial budget is released on June 1, but it is important that we do the necessary work and planning to prepare for that eventuality. 

After the Englefeld Board meeting, I traveled to Daystar First Nation where the Chief Buffalo and his counsel had invited us to discuss the literacy results in relation to Day Star children. Katherine and Darrell not only presented the literacy data of Daystar students but also the work happening around improving the instruction and engagement of FNMI students. We also began discussions around the partnership between the community and Horizon and discussions began about summer reading urgency and community/parent support for 0 – 4 year olds. I would like to thank the Chief his Counsel for offering this invitation to further the partnership we have with the families and communities from which our Horizon students originate.

Horizon School Division’s Board of Education met on Wednesday, May 11. During our meeting, we enjoyed reports from our Review of School Effectiveness (ROSE) team and as I’ve already shared, we looked deeply at the results from our latest round of Fountas & Pinnell reading assessments. The ROSE report looked at the recent event held at Drake School and I want to Crandall who introduced this report, which was delivered by Jan and Supervisor of Student Services, Jason Neville. The data from the report spoke to the great things happening at Drake highlighted by students, staff, parents and our other stakeholders in the community. With the information from this ROSE, staff at Drake have a clear idea of what they’re doing well, other school administrators get the chance to share ideas that can be implemented in their buildings and our Board has a chance to share in the celebration of one school’s success. Thanks to the literacy focus of our Board, new initiatives like our Literacy Coaches, our Writer-In-Residence Sigmund Brouwer and of course the extremely hard work of our teachers and students, more and more of our kids are being engaged in a love of reading. There is work left to be done, but these results show that we are on the right path and we have made huge strides this year. Randy also presented the tentative LINC agreement document to the Board during the meeting. I know this document is also being presented to teachers across the system over the next couple of weeks and it is obvious that we are getting ever closer to a finalized agreement.

For the rest of the week, Darrell, Crandall and I continued our LIP discussions with trips to Schell School, Bulyea School, William Derby School and Nokomis School on Thursday and Ituna School, Foam Lake Elementary School, Foam Lake Comprehensive School, Wadena Elementary School and Wadena High School on Friday. I want to thank the principals, staffs and school community councils of these schools on their successes made obvious through the data we perused and discussed. On Friday, I took a moment from our LIP discussions to take part in a conference call with the Provincial Leadership Team comprised of my fellow Directors and members of the Ministry of Education who focus on the development of the ESSP.

I had the opportunity to join our Board Vice Chair, Wil Lengyel and principal, Maynard Prosko at the graduation exercises for Rose Valley School on Friday evening. Congratulations to staff, parents/caregivers and community members on a successful celebration and congratulations to the Class of 2016 on achieving this important milestone. The theme for the evening was “Let the Adventure Begin”, and I was very happy to be there as our students truly do begin to prepare for the next phase of their life adventure.

Humboldt Collegiate Institute hosted Badminton Provincials on Saturday and I had the chance to say a few words on behalf of the Board and my office. A provincial championship host doesn’t happen without the efforts of a great deal of people and I would like to thank HCI principal, Cory Popoff and his staff as well as all of the organizers for providing this opportunity for Saskatchewan’s student athletes. Of note, vice-principal Shaun Gardiner and his wife, Karla, did a tremendous job of organizing the event and the event wouldn’t have happened to the extent it did without their efforts. The athleticism and sportsmanship of our Horizon athletes makes all of us proud and I would like to congratulate all our athletes and all of Saskatchewan’s student athletes on a great competition.

Lastly, I am deeply saddened to share that the family of our trustee, Melva Desjarlais, suffered a terrible loss last week with the passing of Melva’s great grandchild. On behalf of everyone in Horizon School Division, I offer my deepest condolences to Melva and her family and know that we will keep them in our thoughts and prayers during this extremely difficult time.

Have a great week, everyone.


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