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Horizon School Division
Creating a better world, one student at a time.
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June 3, 2016 - A Message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education

August 08, 2016

As I begin to write “this week”, I am reminded of the words of the late Muhammad Ali, who once said, “Don’t count the days; make the days’ count.” Regardless of the time of year, it has been demonstrated time and again that everyone across our system works incredibly hard to ensure that each day counts for our students. Know that this work does not go unnoticed and your efforts are an inspiration to your coworkers and your students. Ali never backed down from a challenge, be it in the ring or in his life as a public figure. In the same way, we in Horizon recognize that a challenge is nothing more than an opportunity to improve. Muhammad knew that success would be realized in the assurances that his left hook or right cross met his opponent with the fervor he intended. To verify, Ali would step in the ring with a partner, testing his punches with someone he trusted. Although our opponents are not world-class boxers, our intentions of validating our “punches” is similar to that of Ali. For the past few weeks, we have stepped into our own “rings” of a different sort, that of our schools and our classrooms. We have verified the work of our teachers as they have “fought the good fight” for their students related to increasing literacy results. I appreciate that in every case, our literacy processes and results have been proven both accurate and valid. This is a tribute to literacy training that stretches back to last school year by teachers Lynn Prosko, Nadine Jennison and Penny Bugera. This year’s literacy leadership from Darrell Paproski, Superintendent of Student Services and Katherine Oviatt, Supervisor of Literacy and Early Learning Services, served to build upon this solid foundation and our continued assessment growth was realized through the efforts of our coaches, Trish Maxwell and Kim Junk along with all teachers from across Horizon. When we send our tremendous data to the ministry, data that represents for us, the literacy growth of individual children and students, we can all be assured of its validity and accuracy.

This first week of June proved to be a very busy time for everyone across Horizon. On Monday, I joined Superintendents Darrell Paproski and Crandall Hrynkiw as we continued Learning Improvement Plan (LIP) reviews at Three Lakes, Wakaw, Cudworth, Bruno and HCI. On Tuesday, we travelled to Wynyard Composite, Wynyard Elementary, Lakeside Colony, Quill Lake and Watson and spent time reviewing LIPs at Imperial, Winston High and Viscount Central on Thursday. These meetings always inspire passionate and enlightening conversations and I greatly appreciate our school staff and administrators for their work to formulate these plans and to actualize them. As we travel to conduct these reviews, the thing that makes me proudest is the spirit of collaboration that exists in schools across our system. The successes we have enjoyed this past year are a direct result of this collaborative focus. 

This past week was also busy for Horizon’s Human Resource Services. Staffing for the 2016-17 school year is well underway and I had the chance last week to meet with a number of interview candidates for leadership positions in our system. We have passionate and driven people in Horizon School Division and it is humbling to be witness to and hear of the great interest of other passionate educators and support staff desiring to be part of our team. On Monday evening, I joined Randy and Vice Chair, Wil Lengyel as we continue to search for an individual for the position of Rose Valley School Principal. On Tuesday evening, we began interviews for two positions in Finance Services and finished the hiring into the early evening on Wednesday. For much of the week, Deputy Director, Randy MacLEAN and Superintendent of HR Services, Todd Gjevre, conducted interviews for teaching and support staff positions across the system. Getting the “right people on the bus and in the right seat on the bus” continues to be the focus of our hiring practice. The analogy comes from the book, “Good to Great” by Jim Collins and if you haven’t done so, it is well worth the read. On that note, memos were sent from my office this past week announcing that Travis Flahr has accepted the Vice Principal role at Raymore School and Douglas Thomas has accepted the Vice Principal position at Winston High in Watrous. Congratulations to both of these dedicated educators and welcome to the Director’s Leadership Team.

On Tuesday morning, Deputy Director, Lionel Diederichs, Superintendent of Finance Services Marilyn Flaman, Superintendent of Operations, Justin Arendt and Manager of Facility Services Kameron Kiland met with Pattison MGM. We had engaged with Pattison MGM to provide architectural services for the purposes of our long-awaited central administration office. The meeting on Tuesday was to conclude those talks with the firm as Horizon has decided to go through a tendering process on its own. This is not something the Board and my office have done lightly. We feel that the most efficient manner to move forward with a project of this magnitude is to go through our own tendering processes and use the architecture and mechanical from the successful proposal company.

Wednesday began with our Board agenda meeting, where Lionel, Marilyn, Justin, Randy and I were joined by our Board Chair, Jim Hack, and Vice Chair, Wil Lengyel. I then travelled to Saskatoon with Jim, Wil, Lionel and Marilyn for a pre-budget meeting with other School Division personnel and trustees where the Minister of Education, Honourable Don Morgan shared the education budget announcement. The provincial budget, as released by the Minister of Finance and former Rose Valley grad, the Honourable Kevin Doherty, was made public later in the afternoon.

On Wednesday evening, I travelled to Watrous with Jason Neville, Supervisor of Student Services, to attend the Winston High School Awards Night celebration. Principal Terry Braman and his staff, including teacher, Denise Thoner, graciously extended the invitation to my office and I appreciated being in attendance to share an opening message and present the Horizon Student Recognition Award. I want to first commend Terry and Denise and all other staff who were part of the event. A significant number of awards were handed out, ranging from grade 12 bursaries and scholarships to sports awards, arts awards and subject level awards. Awards celebrations have been and continue to be a perplexing matter for our schools and communities. To demonstrate appreciation for the work of our young people is something for which educators and communities have found a multitude of solutions. We will continue to grapple with most important question regarding these recognition nights, that which will bring us to a deeper understanding of the “compelling why” behind these events. I have great confidence in our school and division leaders, our staffs, our communities and our SCC’s as they continue to wrestle with the deeper purpose behind student recognition. There is no simple answer to this question but a celebration such as the one I was able to attend in Watrous, is a good example of how a school and its community has continued to get closer to the deeper purpose.

Following our LIP reviews on Thursday, Jan and Darrell Paproski welcomed me to their home in Watrous to review the results of the Review of School Effectiveness (ROSE) held recently in Rose Valley School. Our schedules found us between appointments in Watrous and Darrell and Jan were very generous in providing space for Jason, Crandall, Jan and I to conduct this meeting. With the ROSE document readied, I will be sharing the data from the report with our Board at next week’s meeting.  

I remained in Watrous Thursday evening to join Trustees Ian Kelln and Leslie Lewis, central office staff, Darrell, Randy and Katherine as well as members from the Horizon Teachers’ Association and the STF for the annual Superannuation Banquet, held this year at the Watrous Civic Centre. This event is always bittersweet as we celebrate the careers of our remarkable teachers moving on to the next chapter of their lives. I would like to say a most sincere thank you to all of this year’s superannuates for their careers in service to our students and schools. This year alone, Horizon School Division has had 31 retirees including 26 teachers. The amount of experience lost this year alone is nearly 1000 years, a significant loss for any system. Henry Brooks Adams stated, “A teacher affects eternity; she (he) can never tell where her (his) influence stops.” Truly the influence of these amazing individuals who gave so selflessly to our students for all these years is a legacy that will remain a part of Horizon and our growth as a system for many years to come. As teachers and support staff, you have helped shape our future and your legacy will be seen in the success of our students for generations.

I held a meeting with Lionel and Marilyn first thing Friday morning in order to go over the implications of the provincial budget and to begin discussing options for Horizon’s budget presentation to our Board. The Senior Leadership Team (SLT) then met go over this information in more detail. As you will have seen in the memo that went out from my office earlier this week, this year’s provincial budget will present challenges for Horizon, but we are confident that these challenges can be managed in a way that allows us to continue delivering on our core function of supporting children in schools.

On Friday afternoon, the Central Office Administrators Team (COAT) comprised of Deputy Directors, Superintendents, Managers, Coordinators, Supervisors, Officers and my executive assistant, met to discuss an overview of the provincial budget and engage in a planning session to support Horizon’s Strategic Plan. I have asked members of COAT to engage in the A3 planning process, a process consistent with my work with the Provincial Leadership Team, to look deeply at our three goals of literacy, safe & caring and assessment. The process has already proven beneficial as we continue to explore the various ways each area of our system serves and supports these goals.

The final sport of the school year took place this past weekend as the SHSAA Provincial Track & Field took place in Regina. Horizon School Division was well represented as athletes from a number of our schools competed in various events on both days. It is always inspiring to see our student athletes compete and excel at such an elite level, and I would once again like to thank our coaches, teachers, parents/caregivers and community volunteers for making these opportunities available for our students.

On Friday evening, I had the pleasure of attending Viscount Central School graduation along with Horizon Trustee, Jennifer Lemky. I want to thank Principal, Ryan Heritage and his staff for their outstanding efforts to make the evening memorable for their students. Punnichy Community High School (PCHS) also held their grad ceremonies on Friday, with Superintendent of Operational Services, Justin Arendt representing my office and Trustees Albert Pinacie, Paul Crow-Buffalo, Nathan Bitternose and Ian Kelln, representing our Board of Education. I would like to thank each of these individuals for taking the time to be a part of these celebrations of student success. I would also like to extend my congratulations to all of this week’s graduates. A wonderful story to end “this week” came from Punnichy where I received a picture from Principal, Donna Nurse of a graduating student who took his grandmother to the ceremony as his escort. It is true that families are the first educators in a child’s life and when it is his or her grandparent that has had such an impact on our youth, there is an unmistakable significance in the bridging of the generation gap. First Nation Elder, Betty McKenna stated, “The value of reading has been known by my people for thousands of years. When you read it gives you important information: like directions, the ability to read animal tracks, cloud formations and weather patterns, rock paintings, stars and water. We read today for the same reasons and for similar results. Reading equips us with skills to survive.” Surely this student’s grandmother has taught this lesson to him…and he reciprocated his thanks in a most inspiring way.

Have a great week, everyone.


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