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Horizon School Division
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June 30, 2016 - A Message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education

August 08, 2016

Happy Canada Day, everyone. I find it hard to believe that we have reached the end of the 2015-16 school year. Once again, this has been a year marked with a number of innovations, improvements and successes and I want to take a few moments to reflect on just some of these exciting accomplishments from this past school year.

I have to start by reflecting on the innovative processes and partnerships I observed this year in support of our Literacy goal. Horizon's new Literacy Team has been a welcome addition to our staff. Under the leadership of Superintendent of Student Services, Darrell Paproski, our team of Supervisor, Katherine Oviatt and Coaches Kim Junk and Trish Maxwell, have worked deliberately and diligently to support administrators and teachers as our teachers and support staff continue to engage our students in a love of reading. We have a very clear understanding in Horizon our students can be successful in any an all aspects of their education when we support them in their literacy growth. The ladies held Literacy Symposiums for administrators and in-school residences supporting principals and teachers. Our teachers and support staff have been working to address the needs of each individual learner with a goal to achieve their reading level. Through the leadership of principal, Cory Popoff, Jacquie Bergerman, Vice Principal at Humboldt Collegiate Institute, worked closely with Katherine to implement the Ontario Comprehension Assessment (OCA) instrument as a high school literacy benchmark tool and we will be looking to extend this to our high schools across our system in 2016-17. With the first year of our Author-In-Residence program wrapped up, many of our students have been engaged with reading and writing on a whole new level, thanks to the work of their teachers and support staff and, of course, acclaimed Canadian author, Sigmund Brouwer. All this work has culminated in exceptional gains in our Horizon students' reading levels. Relating to this goal, we saw our most consistent results yet as we tested all students from grades 1-8 using the Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Reading Assessment in the fall and again in spring. Across Horizon, we saw an increase of nearly 7% in students reading at or above grade level. Perhaps the most impressive segment of this data, however, came from our Grade 3 students. Between the fall 2015 and spring 2016 assessments, the number of Grade 3 students reading at or above grade level in Horizon School Division rose by 20%! This means that we were only 3% short of the Education Sector Strategic Plan's goal of 80% for Grade 3 students in Saskatchewan...a target the province hopes to reach by the year 2020. There are so many incredible things happening around literacy in our classrooms across Horizon but one specific example of the effect our renewed literacy focus has had on our kids came to me from Trina Pasloski, Grade 3 teacher at Cudworth School. She wrote to me on Thursday to share some very impressive numbers from her classroom. Over the course of the 2015-16 school year, her class read for a total of 69,254 minutes, or 1154.23 hours. This is extremely impressive for these young students and I find it very inspiring to hear about this passionate work from their teacher. In fact, the work in Trina's class led to 87% of students being at or above level, an increase of 12% from the fall.

In support of our Safe & Caring goal and under the leadership of Superintendent of Learning Services, Crandall Hrynkiw and teacher Larry Mikulcik, we held our 2nd Annual Holocaust Symposium. We nearly doubled the number of students that we had in attendance from the previous year, ensuring that all our grade 11 students across the system, over 500 students, were able to participate in this exciting learning opportunity. I could not be happier to share that this powerful learning opportunity will continue as Larry will be acting as a part-time curriculum coach for the 2016-17 school year, supporting our important curriculum partnership with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission and Chief Commissioner, Judge David Arnot. We also saw a significant number of staff members trained in Violence Threat Risk Assessment (VTRA) and I can't thank Jan Paproski, Coordinator of Learning Services and Crandall enough for their work in ensuring this training exists in our school division. Another successful Student Day brought students from every school in the system together again this year, with a focus on students sharing leadership opportunities they were provided this year. By giving our kids this chance to come together, we continue to encourage collaboration across schools and support the capacity building of these young people as they strive to be effective student leaders. In thinking about student leadership, what a tremendous opportunity our students were provided in supporting the National Congress on Rural Education. Horizon and Englefeld Protestant Separate School Division, joined forces as we had 18 students support the Congress through e-Journalism. Students involved in the Congress also covered our Student Day and our Holocaust Symposium and we look forward to having Communication Services Officer, Lance Hiltz, continue this impressive work with our students in the upcoming school year.

Speaking of collaboration, our bargaining teams wrapped up negotiations with the Horizon Teachers' Association (HTA) for a new LINC agreement and CUPE members for the new CUPE collective bargaining agreement. By building relationships of trust and respect with our staff who are part of these organizations, our work resulted in agreements that will truly benefit our system. We faced our share of challenges as well, but by facing those challenges head-on and recognizing them as opportunities to improve, Horizon has become stronger. Moving forward, we are in a very exciting position to continue our work supporting student success. Of course, I would like to thank Randy MacLEAN, Superintendent of Human Resource Services, Todd Gjevre, Deputy Director of Corporate Services and outgoing CFO, Lionel Diederichs, Superintendent of Finance Services and newly named CFO, Marilyn Flaman and Human Resource Services Officer, Monica Corrigan for their work in supporting this process as well as all members of the staff teams. I have also been inspired by the work of the Teacher Efficacy and Workload Intensification committee as we continue to consider the most effective ways to meet teacher needs in our system. Randy and Vice Principal of Wakaw School, Nadine Jennison have co-chaired the committee and I look forward to our continued work together.

This year also marked the beginning of two major capital projects in Horizon. St. Brieux School is getting a complete facelift and the work of Lionel and his team of Justin Arendt, Superintendent of Operation Services and Kam Kiland, Manager of Facility Services has been exemplary as the project is well underway. Kam and Justin will continue to support the Board's desire to build a new Division Office in Humboldt and we are getting ever closer to putting the first shovels in the ground. The office will be built on the land where the current "south office" is located and we are currently entertaining "Requests for Proposals" or RFP's that will be taken to the Board for final approval. As well, Jocelyne Possberg, Manager of Transportation Services has worked closely with Justin to engage with Southland Transportation who will be providing contracted bussing services to Horizon in the upcoming school year. In April, the Board approved a 5-year agreement that will see Southland provide bussing to our schools west of the number 6 highway. All schools east of the number 6 highway will be owned and operated by our Division with services provided out of our Foam Lake service site. It has been exciting to see the new Southland busses travelling into Humboldt over the last few days with Horizon School Division No. 205 labeled on the sides. We have also appreciated the work of the Information Technology Services team under the leadership of Justin and Coordinator of Information Services, Ken Sogge as they have ensured our technology needs are being met in our schools. Although our budget has been cut in this area, we are looking forward to rolling out a significant number of Google Chromebooks to our schools in the upcoming months to support our student users.

To mark the end of the school year, Horizon Board Chair, Jim Hack, has asked me to share this message with all of you:

"On behalf of the Board, I could not be prouder of the many things we have accomplished in Horizon School Division over the course of this past year. Each and every member of our staff has worked tirelessly to realize our goals of Literacy, Safe & Caring and Assessment. Whether your work finds you at the front of a classroom or in a support role behind the scenes, your remarkable efforts have had a direct impact on our students' successes. For that, our Board of Education thanks you.

I would also like to thank my fellow trustees for their work this year. Your commitment to learning and guidance continue to serve our students, staff and stakeholders well. Of course, not everything this year was a celebration. In February, the Board lost one of our own with the untimely passing of Trustee, Kevin Grieman. Although Mr. Grieman was taken from us much too soon, his legacy of kindness, generosity and wisdom lives on in everyone who knew him. His incredibly positive impact will be felt around our division and Board table long into the future.

And what a future it will be. This past year saw a number of exciting new successes and partnerships across our system. It is great to see such momentum as we seek to continuously improve the services we provide for our students. I do not think I'm alone in saying that I feel this is a very exciting time to be a part of the Horizon School Division team.

Thank you, everyone. Have a great, well-deserved summer break! I'm looking very forward to seeing you all again in the fall."  

I began this final week of the school year on Monday, in Wakaw. As their community continues to cope with the events that occurred on June 23, our school and central office staff have worked to ensure that the necessary supports are available to everyone who needs them. We received another update on Cashtyn on Monday morning as he was brought out of his medically induced coma and is one step further on his path to recovery. On Tuesday, I got word of something wonderful that is happening at Wakaw School to show support for Cashtyn. Tammy Jobin, a parent at Wakaw, decided to make a quilt for Cashtyn. She cut out squares of fabric and invited some of the staff and students put their hand print and name on a square, which will then be sewn together to make the quilt. This is such a thoughtful gesture and goes to show the power of community to help each other in difficult times. I believe it is also important to recognize that this was an accident and that all people involved, including our Rilling's bus driver, are needing our continued thoughts and prayers as family, staff and community continues to deal with the aftermath of this near tragedy.

Departmental exams wrapped-up on Tuesday and I would like to offer my thanks to our teachers for your remarkable work in helping our students prepare for these assessments. Of course, our students also deserve a great deal of credit for their hard work and commitment to their studies this past year.

On Tuesday morning, I met with Brian Grest, Coordinator of Student Activities for Horizon in support of the Horizon Central Athletic Association (HCAA). Our meeting was an opportunity to discuss the past year of programs and services conducted through the HCAA, as well as to touch base on my work that I will be doing in instructing referee clinics for volleyball in the early fall. It is tremendous that so many opportunities exist for our kids to engage in athletics and so many other extra-curricular opportunities across our system, and Brian does an incredible job of supporting the athletic opportunities. Following my meeting, I travelled to Watrous to meet with principal Terry Braman. Terry is getting married this summer and although this was not the purpose of our meeting, I want to wish him success in this exciting step in his life. Speaking of getting married, Justin Arendt is also getting married this summer. I wish both Justin and Monica Corrigan all the best as they join together in holy matrimony.

On Tuesday evening, our central office staff joined me at my home for a year-end barbeque. It was a tremendous opportunity to bid farewell to five of our team members who will be moving on to new adventures next year. Bev Closson, Brian Hay, Joanne Cunningham, Amber Cleveland and Lionel Diederichs have each had an incredible impact on our system and our office certainly won't be the same without them. Bev is retiring as part-time Coordinator of Student Services and has been a great mentor and support for Jason Neville, Supervisor of Student Services. Brian has been in technology services for the last number of years and is retiring to be able to spend time with his grandchildren in Ontario. Joanne has spent the last 7 years supporting our work in curriculum and FNME as a Coordinator and, most recently as a Supervisor. As I won't be replacing her position at this time, Crandall will pick up some of her work and I will move assessment under my responsibility. This is a large portfolio and I am grateful that Cory Popoff, Principal of HCI, will be supporting me in continuing the good work Crandall and his team have begun. Amber has been with us on two separate occasions and, although I would like nothing more to keep her working in our system, she has decided she is going travelling to Europe. Finally, Lionel, as most are aware, has accepted a position as the CFO of Prairie Spirit. He has been an incredible leader in my office at the Deputy Director of Corporate Services and we wish him all the best in his new role and thank him for everything he has done to support our students, staff, schools, Board and my office. These individuals are not only coworkers, they are very much friends and we wish each of them the very best in the next chapters of their lives.

I was in the office Wednesday morning, joining with Randy and trustee, Denis Bergerman for St. Brieux principal interviews. As you have likely seen in a memo that went out from my office, John Casavant will be joining Horizon School Division in the upcoming school year to serve as Principal of St. Brieux School. John has had a long career in education, including over a decade as the Superintendent of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment with the North East School Division. St. Brieux's current principal, Christy Baumann, will be moving into a new role within our division beginning the 2016-17 school year. We have also announced that Horizon's First Nation Liaison Officer, Lester Gardiner, has accepted the new position of Coordinator of First Nation and Metis (FNM) Education Services. I look very forward to working with each of these individuals in their new roles. Following interviews, I travelled to St. Brieux to meet with Mike Gauthier, CFO with Bourgault Industries. Bourgault is an important partner in our St. Brieux school project and has committed to supporting the new and improved facility with the state-of-the-art metal fabrication equipment.

Wednesday evening, I had the great fortune of joining trustee, David Holinaty and the community of Cudworth School to celebrate grade 12 graduation. I want to thank principal, Lindsay Perry and his staff for a truly wonderful evening. Grad ceremonies were also held at Humboldt Collegiate Institute, Three Lakes School and Watson School on Wednesday. On Thursday, Horizon's final grad ceremonies of 2016 were held at Annaheim School and Wakaw School. I had the pleasure of joining Dave once again at the celebration at Wakaw and would like to thank principal, Darryl Dickson and his staff for making it a truly memorable event for their grade 12 students. Congratulations to all the principals and their staffs for their efforts to ensure a wonderful celebration of their senior students. Of course, to this year's grads, I would like to wish each of you the best of luck in what will surely be a very bright future.

Prior to graduation in Wakaw, I took the opportunity to travel to Archerwill School to meet with principal Rick Hamel and to share some final words with long time secretary, Sandy Wilson. Sandy spent 37.5 years in our system supporting students and staff and it was an honour to be able to thank her personally for this incredible commitment. I then had the opportunity to travel to Annaheim and presented Phylis Vanderlinde her retirement gift. Phylis also spent a significant number of years supporting children in our system and it was humbling to be able to thank her for her outstanding commitment. So many other Horizon staff members have retired from our system and although I wasn't able to be at each of your final celebrations, I want to take this opportunity to congratulate each of you on reaching this stage in your lives. Know that you will be sorely missed by our Board, our staff, our students and our stakeholders. I travelled back to the office for a farewell barbeque for Mary-Pat Will. Mary-Pat has been subbing as our receptionist in central office for the past number of months and she has been a tremendous addition to our office environment.

Of course, Thursday was also Report Card Day. I am thankful for our principals and their staffs for ensuring these reporting documents reach our parents as they provide a clear understanding of the hard work of their children. As Report Card Day marks the beginning of summer holidays for many people across Horizon, I would like to wish each of you a fantastic summer break. I hope you all enjoy the next few months filled with good books and time spent relaxing with loved ones. As author Alan Cohen once said, "There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither." Finally, I would like to thank our Board of Education for their relentless commitment to our students in Horizon School Division. Your vision to have a highly effective school system inspires each of us to join with you in doing the hard and important work required to achieve these expectations. The exciting thing about this work, we continue to move the bar ever higher.

Have a great summer, everyone. Thank you for your efforts to make Horizon a school system with an incredibly bright future. As Malcolm X stated, "Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today." I think we have been preparing very well for a future that will start with the 2016-17 school year and I look forward to joining you in it.


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