Skip to main content
Horizon School Division
Creating a better world, one student at a time.
News Item

September 28, 2020 - a message from Director of Education, Kevin C. Garinger

September 28, 2020

Last Monday, we began our week with Horizon’s second Collaborative Learning Day of the school year. I want to thank our staff for taking part in this important day to work and learn together in support of our students and our colleagues. I also want to thank the day’s facilitators for putting together professional development opportunities that were accessible virtually and in-person.

On Monday afternoon, I took part in a meeting with school divisions and our local medical health office (MHO). These meetings, that were once a week, will continue to place every other Monday to allow us an opportunity to share information and engage in discussions relating to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As we all know, communication among and between our Education and Health sectors is so critical at this time.

On Tuesday morning, I joined an Education sector pandemic planning meeting with Ministry of Education personnel and my fellow Directors of Education in the province. We continue to discuss and evaluate the ways in which our sector can work together to keep students, staff, families, and communities healthy and safe. Dr Shahab, our Chief Medical Health Officer (CMHO) for our province joined us on each of these calls. I would like to thank our Deputy Minister, Rob Currie for setting these meetings up with Dr Shahab and the other Ministry of Health officials. Among the many questions we are able to ask Dr Shahab, he also provides many pearls of wisdom for us to hold onto. On Tuesday, he shared that there should be almost no one who can not wear a mask and that the requirements around mask use are necessary in addressing this pandemic. We will continue our work under the direction and guidelines laid out by our CMHO and ministries.

Also Tuesday morning, I also joined a meeting to discuss the new Lanigan School Project with Horizon’s Superintendent of Finance Services, Sarah Reding, Superintendent of Operational Services, Justin Arendt, Manager of Facility Services, Kam Kiland, and Ministry of Education personnel and Sask Builds personnel. This is a very exciting project for Lanigan, the surrounding area, and Horizon School Division in general. I look forward to continuing to meet in the coming weeks and months to finalize the planning and break ground on this facility. Some people have asked about the location of the new school. At this time, we simply do not have an answer. Tuesday’s meeting was focused on the initial stages of the plan and we are finalizing Project Manager proponents for our build. This individual, when she or he is in place, will be important for supporting discussions with the town on a location.

I finished the day on Tuesday in several other meetings, including a phone interview with Bolt FM, to discuss a number of items related to our first weeks of school and the months ahead. As always, I greatly appreciate the interest and support we receive from our local media, helping us spread the word about the good work being done by Horizon’s students, families, staff, and Board to improve conditions for health, safety, and learning.  

On Wednesday morning, Principals, Vice Principals, and Secretaries received a professional development session on the program SchoolMessenger, which Horizon and our schools utilize mass phone and email communication with families. This session was led by Superintendent Justin Arendt, Communication Services Officer, Lance Hiltz, and Database Specialist, Kyle Lamont. I want to thank our staff for taking time to focus on this important tool for communication, and for ensuring that our family contact information is current and up to date each year. Of course, the critical work is centred squarely on ensuring the data we have in MySchoolSask (Aspen) is accurate. Secretaries and principals are tasked with reviewing the information in great detail for accuracy so that the school and school division can make the most use of the program.

On Wednesday afternoon, I met with Gerard Frison, teacher at William Derby School and President of the Horizon Teachers’ Association (HTA). Our great relationship with the HTA has been especially critical in the last months and weeks, as new practices have been employed and new procedures have affected our daily activity in schools. I am grateful to spend time with Gerard in discussions around what our teachers are experiencing and to share in conversation around how to continue to manage through the many challenges we will face.

I then joined a meeting on transportation with Superintendent Justin Arendt, Manager of Transportation Services, Jocelyne Possberg, Assistant Superintendent of First Nations, Métis & Inuit Education Services, Bryan McNabb, George Gordon First Nation Councilor, Danny Cyr, and staff member, Rhonda Laslo. The discussions were positive as usual in discussing how Horizon might lend support to transportation as deemed necessary.

To finish the day on Wednesday, I held a meeting to review our Return to Sport Protocol with Superintendent of Operational Services, Justin Arendt, Manager of Transportation Services, Jocelyne Possberg, Supervisor of Human Resource Services, Todd Gjevre, Administrator of Student Activities, Brian Grest, Superintendent of Student Services, Darrell Paproski, Assistant Superintendent of Literacy, Numeracy, and Early Learning, Katherine Oviatt, Communication Services Officer, Lance Hiltz, Executive Assistant, Marni Sogge, and Deputy Director, Randy MacLEAN. We continue to make changes to the protocol that is governing sport in Horizon but I am grateful our Board is supportive of a return to this level of activity for our students. I am also thankful we have an excellent plan that makes health and safety a priority in the returning to sport.

On Thursday, I was in Saskatoon taking part in training for the Professional Relations and Discipline Committees Protocol, Processes, and Procedures. As an executive member of the League of Educational Administrators, Directors, and Superintendents (LEADS), I am also the chair of the Professional Relations Committee so meeting with our legal counsel and going through the training they facilitated, was necessary. I also joined the weekly conference call from Board Chairs and Directors that is hosted by the Saskatchewan School Boards’ Association (SSBA).

We began the day on Friday with a videoconference meeting of my Director’s Leadership Team (DLT). It is so critical to have quick, efficient, two-way communication between my office and our schools, and our weekly DLT meetings provide this opportunity. We discussed a number of important updates and pieces of information with our Principals and Vice Principals such as transportation protocols related to sport and the continued practices necessary to implement our contingency plans in the event of a need to shut a classroom or school down due to the pandemic. Darrell and Katherine shared their perspectives on our ongoing planning for literacy and numeracy support and more information regarding assessment strategies will continue to be shared.

I then met with Horizon’s Student Services Team to review and discuss their annual project plans. We have some exciting projects planned for the coming year in Student Services and I appreciated the opportunity to discuss them prior to their implementation.

On Friday afternoon, I had a meeting with my fellow Co-chairs and Owners on the Provincial Leadership Team (PLT). As you may know, Friday was the last day for Horizon’s Manager of Accounting Services, Jeff Swanson. Jeff has been with us for a number of years, and we will miss him a great deal around the office and through his many contributions to our system. We wish you all the best in your new adventures, Jeff.

My end to the week saw me join Trustee, Jennifer Lemky, and the Class of 2020 for Winston High School for a drive-in graduation ceremony in Watrous on Friday evening. I want to thank Principal, Terry Braman, Vice Principal, Doug Thomas, and teachers Lee Bells and Lori Bartko as well as the many other staff involved in organizing this unique celebration opportunity for our graduates. During a historic year, these students have persevered and they will continue to do great things in our world. The Class of 2020 across Horizon School Division have made us so very proud.

Have a great week and stay safe, Horizon.

- Kevin

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