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January 25, 2021 - a message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education
January 27, 2021
Author John Steinbeck said: “What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness? You only truly, deeply appreciate and are grateful for something when you compare and contrast it with something worse.” For obvious reasons, much of what we look forward to following this winter will be sweeter by comparison to our current circumstances. When we are out of the cold, and out of our current health restrictions, we will gain a new degree of appreciation for our day-to-day activities. All this said, I never want to wish the time away, as I am reminded time and again that even in our darkest times, there are so many things to be grateful for right here and now. On that note, I want to share a message from Horizon’s Board of Education Chair, Jim Hack.
“During our most recent meeting, the Board began discussing the work of our staff. The tireless, selfless, and inspiring work of the people in our schools and facilities, who give their all, every day, to provide constant service to the students, families, and coworkers that make up our Horizon community. We talked about how staff have been so creative to keep students engaged and maintain a level of normalcy in these days that are anything but normal. How every day, in spite of restrictions and health protocols, staff are finding new ways to light the sparks of curiosity in our students’ minds. How new knowledge and lessons are being shared among colleagues to motivate and inspire one another. And, how staff have done it all under stressful and changing circumstances.
I wanted to try to express our gratitude here, on behalf of my fellow Trustees; even though our gratitude is beyond words. Please know that we hear from parents and community members all the time, who express this same level of thanks and appreciation for the work and efforts you have put forward since this year began. On behalf of the Horizon School Division Board of Education, our community members, and our families, thank you, thank you, and thank you!”
Jim Hack, Board Chair
Thank you cannot be said enough to our Horizon staff and I certainly echo the sentiments of Jim’s message on behalf of the Board. I also want to take this opportunity on behalf of staff across Horizon to thank our Board. Both our current and previous Boards have been incredible, providing support and guidance since the pandemic began. As a system, we simply could not do our work without their leadership so on behalf of the staff, I say a huge thank you to the Board of Education.
Our SaskMATH Working Group continued their work on Monday and Tuesday, with some in-person at our central office and some joining remotely. The team under the leadership of Katherine Oviatt, Assistant Superintendent has put together an incredible resource, one that we are very excited to share with our province’s mathematics educators once we are through the vetting process. As members of the working team for the project, teachers Lorne Gottselig, Katherine Schapansky, Trish Maxwell, and Lana Steiner have also represented Horizon commendably during the resource development process. We set out to support the pedagogy of Saskatchewan mathematics curriculum, and I am extremely proud of our achievements. I look forward to the near future when our teachers can put this valuable resource to use in classrooms across Saskatchewan.
On Monday afternoon, I took a break from SaskMATH to join a meeting of school officials and Dr Kapaj, the Medical Health Officer for Saskatoon Health Region. The regular meetings this group are valuable when it comes to our ongoing response to the challenges this pandemic has brought to our sector. While I was meeting with health, Superintendent Darrell Paproski was involved in a meeting to discuss the Operational Structure related to the Provincial Education Plan (PEP). The PEP will take the place of the current Education Sector Strategic Plan (ESSP) once it is completed, however, it has been significantly delayed for good reason, due to the pandemic. In the meantime, we will continue to manage the operations of the sector through the ESSP.
SaskMATH working team discussions continued on Tuesday and prior to joining them, I was involved in our weekly pandemic leadership meeting organized by the Deputy Minister’s office and involving Donna Johnson, Deputy Minister of Education, Lisa Carter, Assistant Deputy Minister of Health and Dr Shahab, Chief Medical Health Officer, to discuss the most recent Education Sector pandemic updates, including epidemiology and direction on immunology. In the afternoon, I once again joined the Provincial Leadership Team (PLT) for a teleconference to share the current status of the ESSP, including an update I was proud to share on the progress of SaskMATH.
Horizon’s Board of Education held their regular monthly meeting on Wednesday. The Board continues to hold their meetings virtually, a reminder to all of us that, as much as we are able to, we need to honour Dr Shahab’s recommendations to work from home. As always, there was much to discuss, including a report from the Board’s School Community Council Engagement Committee, and reports from Human Resource Services, Finance Services, and Operational Services. During my report, I had a chance to share a short presentation about what happens in Horizon when we learn of a COVID-19 diagnosis. I also shared our current 2021-22 enrolment projections, an early discussion of our 21-22 school year calendar, and other items. The Board’s discussions always provide great insight and direction to our work across the system, and I want to thank them once again for their commitment to our students, staff, and communities.
On Thursday morning, I joined the provincial Board Chairs and Directors meeting. That afternoon, I joined Katherine for a meeting with the SaskMATH reference committee to provide a brief overview and to discuss the plan for final vetting and for rolling the document out to the sector.
On Friday, Randy MacLEAN, Deputy Director, Bryan McNabb, Assistant Superintendent, Tammy McNab, Principal of George Gordon Education Center and I met with George Gordon First Nation leadership including Rhonda Laslo, Education and Training Director for the Nation and Daniel Cyr, member of Chief and Council, to discuss the needs of our children and staff while the community continues to deal with a significant outbreak. As always, our thoughts and or prayers got out to everyone who has been impacted by this virus, including those challenged by the restrictions that are in place to help move our society out of this pandemic. The continuation of learning is quite rightly challenged when a family member or a student is sick with Covid-19 and the anxiety and fear of uncertainties related to the disease are real. We had an important discussion on how best to provide educational supports during this deeply troubling time. As always, I am grateful for the people we have in Horizon who stop at nothing to try and support the needs of our children, their colleagues, and our communities.
Please…stay warm, stay safe, stay healthy, stay strong, Horizon.
Kevin C. Garinger B.Ed., M.A.Ed.
Director of Education/CEO
Horizon School Division No. 205