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Horizon School Division
Creating a better world, one student at a time.
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September 16, 2016 - A Message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education

September 19, 2016

It is true that it doesn’t matter how much work we put into effective assessment practice or ensuring our students reach grade level and beyond in literacy if our students don’t feel safe in the environments they spend over 15,000 hours during the course of their lives as students. I am thankful for the adults in our schools and system who work tirelessly to make this so for our children. It is with this focus of our goals in mind, literacy, assessment and safe and caring, that I begin “This Week in Horizon”.

Monday was a historic day for Horizon School Division and the City of Humboldt. Last week was Humboldt Pride Week and to kick it off, community members and dignitaries gathered for the first-ever raising of the pride flag at Humboldt City Hall. Mayor Malcolm Eaton, Members of the Legislative Assembly, Donna Harpauer and David Forbes, representatives from the local RCMP and faith community, Sarah Miller of PFLAG – Humboldt, and representatives from the Saskatchewan Pride Network and OutSaskatoon were all on-hand to share in this important occasion. Representing Horizon, our Superintendent of Human Resource Services, Todd Gjevre, shared a few words of thanks on behalf of my office and our division. As educators, we strive to create a culture of inclusion in our classrooms, and to support the development and success of each and every student in our schools. By raising the pride flag at Humboldt City Hall, these partners had the chance to demonstrate to community members and students that we are committed to ensuring all identities and cultures are welcome and celebrated. This is an especially powerful message for our young people, so to all organizers and participants in this event, I offer my sincere gratitude.

On Monday and Tuesday of this past week, a provincial symposium was held regarding the Education Sector Strategic Plan (ESSP)’s goal for Saskatchewan’s three-year graduation rate. This goal is to have our sector’s three-year graduation rates reach 85% by June 30, 2020. The Graduation Rate Symposium was held in Moose Jaw and I joined our Superintendent of Student Services, Darrell Paproski, Superintendent of Learning Services, Crandall Hrynkiw, Coordinator of First Nation & Métis Education Services, Lester Gardiner, and Supervisor of Literacy & Early Learning Services, Katherine Oviatt in attendance at this important forum. In Horizon, great work has been done to improve graduation rates for our students and that work is ongoing. We have many areas of celebration around this work, but there is always room for improvement. By continuing our support of students, building on our relationships with educational and community partners, and growing our culture of collaboration, we will not only achieve this goal for our students, but surpass it.  

On Wednesday, Horizon’s Board of Education met for their regular monthly meeting. There was much to go over and it was a very productive meeting for our Trustees. Among the great number of items for discussion, were matters relating to Board Governance, opening day enrolments, the upcoming Board election, and transportation. As always, our Board Members demonstrated their incredible commitment to our students, staff and communities. Their vision lays the foundation for the work we do in our classrooms and I always appreciate their attention to detail and thoughtful decision-making processes.  

Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) screening continued for our Pre-Kindergarten students. The information we get from ASQ will help us learn where each child is at developmentally and where the classroom teacher can provide learning experiences to enhance that development. It also allows us to be able to identify where additional assessments and supports are required to aid children at the earliest stage they begin in our schools. I have appreciated that our classroom teachers, educational assistants, occupational therapists and speech and language pathologists have worked closely with our literacy support team led by early intervention and literacy support coach Kim Scharf in a one-day screening session. The follow-up will be exciting as the collaboration of this team will continue an even deeper process to support the success of our littlest learners.

My Senior Leadership Team (SLT) met Thursday morning. This team is made-up of Deputy Director, Randy MacLEAN,  Superintendent of Learning Services, Crandall Hrynkiw, Superintendent of Student Services, Darrell Paproski, Superintendent of Operational Services/COO, Justin Arendt, Superintendent of Finance Services/CFO, Marilyn Flaman and Superintendent of Human Resource Services, Todd Gjevre. This meeting was an opportunity to discuss the progress of Horizon’s strategic planning documents, upcoming professional development opportunities for our school administrators, the continuing roll-out of our new AESOP Absence Management system for staff, and an update on this year’s upcoming external audit.

On Wednesday and Thursday afternoon, several of our high schools joined a Skype presentation regarding the Ontario Comprehension Assessment (OCA) tool. This overview training helped our school administrators and teachers familiarize themselves with the OCA tool, which will be used to understand and strengthen literacy in Grade 9-12 students. Thank you to those who were able to skype in for the initial session and provide their expertise and knowledge to this new process. High school literacy support coach, Jacquie Bergerman was instrumental in the planning and implementation of the roll out and she will be hosting follow-up sessions for teachers at their schools in order to provide individual support. Prior to this year, there was no tool in place to specifically measure the comprehension levels of high school students. Using the OCA tool, we will now have a clearer understanding of where our instruction is most effective and where we can focus our work in support of these students.

On Thursday evening, I had the opportunity to lead a volleyball referee clinic at Humboldt Collegiate Institute, along with Scott Cory from Hanley. As the Officials’ Coordinator for Zone 5B for Sask Volleyball, my goal is to ensure we have enough officials available to meet the demand in Horizon Central Athletics Association as well as to support our young or novice officials in their development. It is critical that we have people trained for these officiating positions to allow our students the opportunities to play, and I am proud to be in a position to support this in the sport of volleyball. Already we’ve had 44 people at the two clinics that have been held in Horizon, up from about 12 in total from last year. My goal was to have 50 people attend clinics and that approximation will be smashed with two clinics remaining.

As Fountas and Pinnell (F & P) assessments are preparing to be implemented this upcoming week, literacy coaches, Trish Maxwell and Kim Junk hosted the F & P training for new teachers and administrators on Friday. We know that this training will result in the consistency and validity we saw this past spring when we were able to validate the outstanding results of our system. I know I focus a great deal on my continued desire to excel in this area but it is a fact that when we relish in our success, it is because the results we focus on equate to the individual and collective success of our children and students. What greater gift can we give our children than to see them succeed…and our school and system staffs are providing this gift every day and every year, 15,000 total hours per student.

On Friday, I had the pleasure of meeting with the recently appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of Carlton Trail Regional College, Mr. Ralph Troschke. Ralph joined Carlton Trail from Olds College and I appreciated the opportunity to begin building a relationship with him as well as discussing briefly the important partnership Carlton Trail shares with Horizon School Division. I want to thank principal of HCI, Cory Popoff for setting up the meet and greet and for meeting with me afterward as we discussed our assessment goal and the recently completed A3 for which Cory has done a considerable amount of work.

I had the opportunity to join Todd Gjevre, Superintendent of HR Services, as we officiated a Senior Boys volleyball tournament at Humboldt Public School on Friday evening and all day Saturday. We were inspired as we witnessed a number of our Horizon student athletes compete for the right to call themselves tourney champs but most of all, because they did so with the utmost in sportsmanship and respect for their officials, their opponents and the game.

There is no school for students on Monday as the second Collaborative Learning Day of the school year is being held in Humboldt for our secretaries, educational assistants and teachers. I look very forward to these days as the importance of coming together to learn through dialogue with our peers from across the vast geography of our school division can never be understated. Isaac Asimov, famed author and biochemist summarizes the importance of our work together when he says, “A knotty puzzle may hold a scientist up for a century, when it may be that a colleague has the solution already and is not even aware of the puzzle that it might solve.

Have a great week, everyone.

- Kevin
 
Kevin C. Garinger, B.Ed, M.A.Ed
Director of Education/CEO
Horizon School Division No. 205
Kevin.garinger@horizonsd.ca