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Horizon School Division
Creating a better world, one student at a time.
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September 2, 2016 - A Message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education

September 06, 2016

Well, our journey has begun! I know it was with great excitement that staff across Horizon School Division welcomed students back to our classrooms and our care on September 1st. For our Board, our students, our families, our staff and everyone involved in the education of our children, the first day of school is something that we look forward to. It is a time when our entire Horizon family is whole again…the reason we are here, our children are back to learn and grow in all aspects of their lives. We recognize, as adults, that their return can sometimes come with some anxiety. When children are returning to our classrooms or getting on a bus for the first time, they can have questions of who their friends will be and will they be accepted. Our students have grown over the summer and some have crossed significant milestones. We welcome this growth with all of its hope, energy and challenges. Others have had to change schools, sometimes only within their community, which can be the cause for anxiety. I remember moving my three boys to Alberta from their place of comfort for the previous eight years. Their anxiety and trepidation was high as they tried to establish a new normal in a place unfamiliar to them. I wonder how many of our students in Horizon are experiencing the same apprehension as they begin school this year. It is not always easy for our children but I am ever grateful in our school division. The preparation of our families and our staff, the care that I see in our schools, on our buses and in our communities has most assuredly made the first days a welcoming experience.  

I hope each of you had a very enjoyable and relaxing summer holiday. I had a great summer enjoying the sunshine and spending time with loved ones. I also had a number of opportunities to meet with colleagues, expand my knowledge and prepare for the school year. In July, I travelled to Boston with members of our literacy team to join over 6000 delegates from across the globe at the International Literacy Association (ILA) Conference. It was an outstanding experience learning from the likes of Donalyn Miller, Kylene Beers, Bob Probst, Gayle Fountas and Sue Pinnell, Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis, Penny Kittle, Kelly Gallagher…and the list of experts goes on and on. I strongly encourage teachers and administrators to consider the opportunity to attend the 2017 ILA Conference. During the first week of August, I attended the League of Educational Administrators, Directors and Superintendents (LEADS) Summer Short Course, held in Waskesiu, SK. LEADS is the professional organization for which senior leaders and supervisors who hold certification in the province belong. Each year, we are required to maintain our professional status in LEADS by taking short courses in areas such as Data Analysis, First Nation/Metis Education or Legal Issues in Education. I had the pleasure of joining Darrell Paproski from my office in attending the legal course put on by the lawyers from the Saskatchewan School Boards Association (SSBA). Like the ILA, it was also an extremely valuable professional growth opportunity.

On August 17, our Trustees were back in the boardroom for the first regular meeting. After exchanging pleasantries, they jumped right back to the business of the new school year. From a Board of 14, we have dropped to 12 members heading toward the 2016 trustee election. Ian Kelln, long time educator and leader and most recently a trustee for the past four years, moved out of the school division which required him to vacate his seat at the Board table. The Board has decided, as they did when our friend, Kevin Grieman passed away suddenly, that they would not hold a bi-election for subdivision 9. Much of the meeting was spent discussing matters of transportation, summer facilities projects, such as the ongoing renovation and expansion work at St. Brieux and the new gym floors in Imperial and the two Lanigan schools, and the work that has been ongoing by central office staff in preparation for the upcoming Board elections and school year. You may have noticed advertisements announcing the call for nominations for the upcoming School Board elections that will be taking place on October 26, 2016. Nomination forms are now available for all subdivision positions and these forms and other information can be accessed at the Horizon School Division Central Office, your local school, on our website at, or by emailing The nomination deadline for the election is set for September 21, 2016 at 4:00 pm. It was a full day but a great start to our 2016-17 school year for our Board of Education.

On August 22, I held our opening Director’s Leadership Team (DLT)meeting in Humboldt Collegiate Institute’s gathering area. I had the pleasure of welcoming a number of new school administrators, introduced new members of our central office staff and shared preparatory information to ensure our administrators and school staff had what they needed prior to the first day of school. This year, our DLT will be holding a number of Skype meetings to cut down on travel costs for these critical times when we’re together and I look forward to continuing our collaborative work together as they work with me in support of staff and students.

Horizon’s Transportation Services team had a very busy summer this year and I would like to thank Superintendent of Operations/COO, Justin Arendt, and Manager of Transportation Services, Jocelyne Possberg and their team for the incredible work preparing buses, drivers and contractors for the new school year. This year, Horizon worked with our new contractor, Southland Transportation, to offer the “My First Ride” program for Kindergarten students and their families. My First Ride provided an opportunity for our newest students to become familiar with riding the bus to school prior to the first day of class. With the change to our Transportation contractor, there have been changes to a number of practices for drivers and families. The Transportation Services team has put together a “frequently asked questions” document to address a number of these inquiries, and families, community members and staff can access the document at:  

The first Horizon School Division Collaborative Learning Day was held on Thursday, August, 25, bringing teachers together for a day of learning. Approximately 500 teachers gathered in Humboldt to take part in professional development opportunities and in collaboration with their peers from across the division. This was the first of four such Collaborative Learning Days that Horizon holds throughout the year, offering opportunities for teachers, secretaries, caretakers, librarians and bus drivers to come together, learn and share with their peers. Of course this year, with Summit Saskatoon occurring on October 6 and 7, many teachers will use one of their collaborative days in Saskatoon experiencing literacy learning across the disciplines.

On August 29th, we held our third annual Celebration Day for staff. As with previous years, we enjoyed a number of incredible performances from our own Horizon students. In addition to bringing their talents, our students also reminded us why we do what we do in classrooms across Horizon every day. A huge thank-you goes to Amy McDade of Raymore School, Halle Sowa, Kimberlee Sowa, Hayley Bindig, Paige Haskey, Azlyn Ekstrom, Kyler Wickstrom and Dalen Sowa of the Wadena Vohon Ukrainian Dance Club; Jaydan Crowe, Jayda Crowe and Geanna Pelletier-Wesaquate, pow wow dancers from Lanigan Elementary; and Hannah Gill, Emily Roney, Emily Andreas, Shelby Curtis, Kyle Sather and Julia Lee of the Winston Senior Garage Band. In recognition of the Year of the Saskatchewan Ukrainian, we enjoyed a presentation from Board Trustee, Murray Proznick, on Ukrainian heritage and cultural responsiveness. Of course, Horizon School Division was proud to recognize 161 staff and board members for their years of service from 5 years to 35 years. Staff who have 20, 25, 30 and 35 years of service have or will also be recognized with a commemorative gift of their choosing as per Admin Procedure 409. The recognition of the work our staff does is truly the hallmark of Celebration Day and it was great to shake hands with and see the appreciation in the faces of the staff from across our system. We also enjoyed speeches from four impressive and very inspiring Horizon alumni as inductees to our Horizon Wall of Fame. This year’s inductees were David Thauberger (Schell School), inducted for his excellence in the arts; Dr. Glen Baker (Winston High), inducted for his excellence in medical research; Dr. James Dosman (St. Peter’s College), inducted for his excellence in agricultural medicine; and business person Betty-Ann Heggie (William Derby School), inducted for her excellence in business and gender equity. I know we all thank our inductees and their families for joining us and for sharing such inspiring stories of perseverance and personal success. As a finale to this year’s day, we were very excited to reveal the new website and Horizon’s new intranet/portal page for staff. To ensure that these new resources are as helpful as possible for all our stakeholders, I would ask each of you to contact Communication Services Officer, Lance Hiltz, with any questions or concerns. Celebration Day was a fantastic way to kick-off the school year and welcome our staff back with style and I know there are so many people to thank that it’s almost overwhelming and, quite frankly, I know I would miss someone. So, thank you to our Wall of Fame Committee Chair, Wil Lengyel and the Wall of Fame committee who worked hard in coming up with this year’s members. Finally, thank you to our Celebration Day Committee Chair, Darcy Swiderski, her tireless committee members and our entire central office staff for planning and organizing a day we can all be proud to take part in.

The Horizon Teachers’ Association (HTA) held their annual Convention in Foam Lake on August 29. This year, hockey legend, best-selling author, and motivational speaker Theoren Fleury was the very special guest for the morning, sharing his remarkable, inspiring story of hard work and overcoming a life filled with trauma. This year, the HTA extended an invitation to our Board and our central office staff to take in Theoren’s message. I want to extend a huge thank-you to the HTA for the invitation and for their planning this year. Thank you especially to the HTA Executive and HTA President, Gerard Frison, Convention Chair, Darin Faubert, and the Convention planning committee for a great day of motivation and professional development for our teachers and staff. In addition, Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation (STF) President, Patrick Maze was in attendance and he, along with Lorel Irving Piot from member services, Gerard and Patsy Knafelc (committee member) took part in our new teacher induction ceremony as 26 new teachers were welcomed to the STF.

On August 31st, Manager of Transportation Services, Jocelyne Possberg, held a bus driver in-service for 49 route drivers and any spares who were able to be in attendance. Horizon has increased the number of routes we will operate this school year, going from 35 in June to 49 this September. Likely the easiest way to remember which routes are operated by Horizon is to recognize that everything east of Highway 6 is Division owned while everything west is contracted through Southland Transportation. With the changes this year has seen in Transportation Services, this in-service was a great opportunity for us to share these changes with our drivers and to dialogue around various processes the system has in place to support them and our students.

In the days leading up to the first days of school, I had the opportunity to facilitate 7 Habits training for staff at Watrous Elementary, during their admin day and non-instructional day. A number of other schools took advantage of this time to have our 7 Habits facilitators lead training for their staff as well. These workshops are invaluable for personal development and the spin-off for our students is equally positive.  

The Englefeld Protestant Separate School Division (EPSSD) Board met on the evening of August 30th for their first meeting of the 2016-17 school year. As has been the case over the last two years, I have once again assumed the role of Director of Education for EPSSD along with my responsibilities as CEO for Horizon School Division. As with Horizon’s Board, there was a vacancy created at the end of June as Rod Andrews resigned from his role on the Board after 18 years of service as a trustee. I want to thank Rod for his work in supporting the students and staff of Englefeld School and wish him the best in his retirement. The Board had a chance to discuss such topics as staffing, the 2015-16 external audit and the upcoming Board election. It was great to see our EPSSD Trustees after summer holidays, and we had a very productive first meeting of the school year.

We wrapped-up our week with a Senior Leadership Team (SLT) meeting on Friday, September 2, sharing and discussing the supports and initiatives our SLT is working on to continue our support of staff, schools and students this year.

Steve Jobs, referring to his employees at Apple, once said: “Everyone here has a sense that right now is one of those moments when we are influencing the future”. I can’t help but feel a similar sense of excitement and optimism when speaking with staff across Horizon about this upcoming year. In the field of education, everything we do impacts our children and our work together helps to shape our future. Horizon School Division has come a long way in a short period of time and I am certain that each of you, like me, are very excited for the incredible journey that lies ahead.

Have a great year, everyone!


- Kevin


Kevin C. Garinger, B.Ed, M.A.Ed

Director of Education/CEO

Horizon School Division No. 205