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Horizon School Division
Creating a better world, one student at a time.
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March 15, 2021 - a message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education

March 16, 2021

This past week began on March 8th with one of the most important days in our calendars… International Women’s Day. For me, this day is a humbling reminder of such ideas as leadership, equity, kindness, strength, caring, and love that is modelled for us by the women in our lives at home, at work, and in our communities. If you would like to learn more about this day, a good place to start would be the UNESCO website and you can find the link here. I think back to how much has changed since the time when women were not permitted to vote or to hold office in our legislature. Our world is in a far better place, but they are far from perfect. The red dress, the symbol of murdered and missing Indigenous women is a clear reminder that we have significant work left to do in every aspect of our society.

I began the week in the virtual League of Educational Administrators, Directors, and Superintendents (LEADS) annual general meeting and update session. As a member of the executive of LEADS, I have recently been acclaimed President Elect for the 2021-22 term. I look forward to working with Quintin Robertson (current president of LEADS) and Ben Grebinski (executive director) for the next year in helping to move our professional organization forward.

Later that afternoon, I joined a Canadian School Mental Health Leadership Network in a virtual meeting. I am proud to be part of this national group focused on ensuring positive mental health practices and supports are in place for our students and staff in our schools. It is inspiring to engage in discussion with some of the top minds in mental health in our country. Following this networking event, I joined a provincial committee of the Business Response Team to discuss guidelines for the 2021 graduation ceremonies. The BRT is responsible for the Re-Open Saskatchewan plan that our school division plans are based upon. In order to prepare for the meeting, I asked Lance Hiltz, Communications Services Officer, to help me conduct a ThoughtExchange survey with LEADS members from across the province. We asked for their feedback regarding what guidelines should be considered for safe and effective grad ceremonies and received important ideas and suggestions that I carried forward to this meeting. I’ll meet next with the BRT on Monday, March 15th to continue this work.

Our Board was together in a virtual format for their March regular meeting. We once again discussed several items related to COVID-19 as well as our work to keep students, schools, and communities safe. We also discussed important topics from the areas of Finance Services, Human Resource services, and Operational Services. Katherine Oviatt, Assistant Superintendent and Darrell Paproski, Superintendent, were joined by Lana Steiner and Heidi Linford to provide the Board with insights into the excellent work that goes on in schools in support of Numeracy. The presentation was outstanding and really spoke to the passion for numeracy that exists in Horizon. The Saskatchewan School Boards Association (SSBA) also joined us online for a discussion about SSBA work and priorities. SSBA President, Shawn Davidson, Vice President, Jaimie Smith-Windsor, and Executive Director, Darren McKee joined our Webex meeting. Horizon’s own Trustee for Subdivision 6, Christine Gradin, also serves on the SSBA Executive as the Central Constituency representative. Horizon greatly appreciates the time and support from the SSBA.

On Thursday morning, Saskatchewan’s Board Chairs received an update from our sector’s Response Planning Team (RPT). The RPT has been guiding our work in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and these regular updates are a valued opportunity to share and discuss new information and updates. That afternoon, Justin Arendt, Superintendent and Kameron Kiland, Manager of Facility Services, joined a meeting with partners to continue discussions relating to the Lanigan School project. I had the great opportunity of being in Wadena Elementary School for a big part of the afternoon and so ended up missing the meeting with these stakeholders. Of course, one of the exciting things that is happening with the project is the design team work that is ongoing and we are pleased to welcome students from Lanigan Elementary, Drake School, and Lanigan Central School who will, along with their principals and a member of each SCC, make up the design team for the Lanigan Community School (name not chosen yet). I know those selected will gather some really good insights into the project for the team.

We began the day on Friday with our weekly Director’s Leadership Team (DLT) meeting. This is such a valuable practice for us to be able to hear from and share with our principals and vice principals, as our current situation is constantly evolving and presenting new challenges. During the DLT meeting, I stepped out briefly to take part in an RPT update with my fellow Directors of Education across the province. Following our DLT, I held a meeting with my Senior Leadership Team (SLT) of Superintendents and Assistant Superintendents. I ended my day in Wadena Elementary again, before addressing cases of Covid-19 in both Wadena Composite and Wynyard Composite. I want to thank those principals and all others across Horizon, as well as their secretaries and staff, for the outstanding work they do to help provide information to my office that can be effectively shared with Medical Health Officers. It takes each of us as individuals to help stop the spread of the virus, but it takes a team to address situations where the virus already exists. I also want to take this opportunity to thank public health employees for their work. In challenging times, they also do a commendable job.

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