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Horizon School Division
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May 4, 2021 - a message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education

May 04, 2021

“Early childhood education is the key to the betterment of society.” – Maria Montessori

May has been declared Early Childhood Education Month. I want to thank each educator and support staff worker involved in early childhood in Horizon and beyond, working to help build a strong foundation for lifelong learning in our youngest students. We know that the early years are so foundational for the future success of our learners and strong programs and personnel leading them can truly get children on the path toward efficacy for life.

May is also National Mental Health Awareness Month. As each of us knows, it is always so important to look after our own mental health needs. There are so many things we can physically do like eating healthy, exercising, getting appropriate sleep, and talking to others for both social reasons and about how we are feeling. After the year we have had, everyone has become even more aware of this than ever. I want to use this opportunity to remind anyone reading this to monitor the needs of yourself and your loved ones. Please do not hesitate to talk with your supervisor or our Human Resource Services team to access the supports and benefits available for you or your family. To our staff, thank you for all you do to support the needs of our students. As we know, the relationships we have with our youth are necessary to support their mental health, so your efforts go a long way to providing positive environments for those who may or may not be struggling. And when the mental health needs of our children do exist, the amazing work of our counselling staff in support of them cannot be overemphasized. Talking to someone is important…talking to a trained professional can lead to life-altering changes. Mr. Rogers once said, “Anything that is human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary.”

Last Monday, I joined a meeting with school division personnel and our local Medical Health Officers. These meetings allow us to hear directly from our expert partners in Health and raise the questions or concerns we have in our area. On Tuesday, I met with Superintendent of Finance Services/CFO Sandy Gessner to continue our discussions around Horizon’s budget for 2021-2022. We continue to work hard to meet the challenges ahead in the coming year.

Wednesday, April 28, was Administrative Professionals Day. Horizon’s Admin Professionals are critical to much that goes on in support of education, and we are so fortunate to have each of you as part of our team. I hope your day last week made you feel as appreciated as you truly are by everyone in our system. I know each of you works tirelessly in making sure the work in the various offices across Horizon is completed to the highest of standards. They say that the greatest employees are those who make your job easier every day. In Horizon, we are so fortunate to have these individuals, like my own executive assistant, Marni Sogge, who encapsulates this ideal by being great every day. I can never thank her enough for all she does, and I know I say the same on behalf of everyone who has administrative professionals supporting the busyness of the work across Horizon. You are amazing people, and we are so fortunate to have you part of the team! 

On Wednesday morning, I met with our Lanigan School planning group for a schematic update. We continue to be happy with the progress of this significant project, and I look forward to sharing more information as plans are finalized. We continue to receive feedback and support from the project team consisting of our students, principals, and SCC members from Drake and Lanigan schools, as well as our Board trustee, Mark Fedak and I look forward to our next meeting scheduled for May 13th. 

I began my day last Thursday with a Response Planning Team (RPT) update for Board Chairs and Directors and then joined a meeting with the Education Sector’s Corporate Services Team (CST),  before meeting with provincial school division personnel and Regina-Qu’Appelle Region Public Health officials.

On Thursday afternoon, I held a virtual meeting with staff from LeRoy School. The school is currently Learning from Home due to COVID-19 cases tied to several classrooms. They were originally set to return to In-Class Learning on May 5. Still, after further discussions with our Medical Health Officer, we have determined that the school will remain in Level 4 (Learning from Home) until May 17. I want to thank the students, staff, and community of LeRoy, who have been nothing short of incredible in dealing with the challenges of this situation.

My day began on Friday with a meeting of my Director’s Leadership Team (DLT). We had great discussions on several ongoing items, including the recently released provincial graduation guidelines. It is valuable to discuss these types of items as a great deal of clarity will need to be sought over the next weeks in preparation for a ceremony of some type for our youth. It was announced that on May 17th, the June graduation guidelines would be coming out, and I know, as all grad ceremonies in Horizon are in June, the hope is for an expansion to the numbers. We will wait and see, but regardless, I know schools and the Board will do all we can to try and provide as much an opportunity as possible for the 2021 graduates of Horizon. I left the DLT meeting to join an RPT update for Directors of Education. After our DLT meeting, the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) held a meeting for the remainder of the morning to further discuss budget 2021-22. I'm looking forward to our individual meetings this upcoming week. 

As we head into the final months of the school year, I am grateful that, as of April 30, school division staff are included in Saskatchewan’s vaccine eligibility group. We are delighted that staff now have access to this critical tool to build herd immunity and make the pandemic a part of our past. There was a walk-in vaccination clinic offered in Humboldt on Sunday, and through my first-hand knowledge, it was very busy with people from all over seeking vaccination opportunities. As the vaccine roll-out continues across the province, I know it is viewed by many as part of the welcoming light at the end of this long COVID tunnel. I thank everyone across our system and beyond who have done their part and continue to do their part to #StickItToCovid.

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