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Horizon School Division
Creating a better world, one student at a time.
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September 23, 2016 - A Message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education

September 26, 2016

As I begin This Week, I can’t help but reflect on the celebration that springs from the work schools and central office staff are doing in supporting the vision of the Board of Education in Horizon School Division. The Board has always made it a strong mandate to have the greatest system in the province (and beyond) and certainly it takes strong people with a will to succeed to make that happen. In Horizon, we are blessed with such people and I hope to capture some of their work through this edition of TWIH.

As you may or may not know, September 12-16 was National Payroll Week and it made me reflect on all the “behind the scenes” services provided in our system. I think we all know what would happen in any organization if people were not paid in a timely manner or if bus routes were not timed appropriately. We would have significant issues raised in our communities if our venders were not paid on time or our facilities were not being kept up. And so, this is for each of those services.

In Horizon, our Payroll Services team has done remarkable work to ensure that payroll is completed for this busy first month of school, and a good portion of that work was completed this past week. Watching the staff stay as late as necessary to ensure the accuracy of the first staff pay period of the school year is a normal occurrence at this time of the year but is also a tribute to the professionalism of this group of employees. To our Payroll Services team, including Corinne Thoms, Manager of Payroll Services, Sharmon Sarauer, Darlene Kirzinger, Cheryl Klatt and Jamie Simard, our Payroll Services Administrators, Jeff Swanson, Assistant Superintendent of Finance Services, and Marilyn Flaman, Superintendent of Finance Services/CFO, please know that your work does not go unnoticed and is appreciated.

This same effort can be restated in every department in our system. We were witness to Technology Services spent countless hours well into the weekend getting our system back “online”. Under the leadership of Superintendent of Operation Services, Justin Arendt and Coordinator, Ken Sogge, their team of Kyle Lamont, Chris Nienaber and Shawn Peters has ensured staff can go into our schools tomorrow ready to infuse technology into the learning of our students. Transportation services, under the leadership of Justin and Manager, Jocelyne Possberg, has also been tireless in efforts to ensure busing concerns expressed by parents were addressed effectively. I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Transportation Services administrative assistant, MaryAnn Rath for her support of that important work.

Accounting Services, under the leadership of Manager, Lori Washkowsky-Lucyk, and her team of accounting clerks including Jolene Koopman, Nadine Burgess and Cheryl Bilawchuk, continue to pay venders at a near record pace while Facility Services, led by Manager, Kam Kiland, and supported by administrative assistant, Stacy Anthony, has accomplished and continues to accomplish amazing things in support of the needs of our schools, our staffs and our students. With leadership from Deputy Director, Randy MacLEAN, Superintendent of HR Services, Todd Gjevre and HR Services Officer, Monica Arendt, their team of HR Generalists, Bailey Chomyshen and Megan-Star Graham, have worked tirelessly to ensure AESOP, the new absence management program in Horizon, is meeting the needs of our teaching staff and our secretaries. I know I’m not the only one who is looking forward to a future that will see all staff incorporated into the program as this will lead to the elimination of the “month end”. Each Horizon service has been working in the background supporting the work of our schools and they, along with their colleagues across the system, are valued members of our team.   

Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessments for reading levels began this past week for our grade 2 students and up, and the assessment will be ongoing until October 3rd. A great deal of work goes into the assessments that will, not only help our teachers understand where our children are in relation to grade level, but will also help teachers adjust their instruction for each student in order to help children get to level. This year, we will continue our focus on assessing our students from grade 1 to 8 but, as I’ve mentioned in the past, will support literacy growth in high schools through the implementation of the “Ontario Comprehension Assessment” (OCA). We also continue to incorporate the Ages and Stages screening assessment for our youngest children in our system. All these assessments help to support the work of our teachers and I want to thank the literacy team led by Superintendent of Student Services, Darrell Paproski, Supervisor, Katherine Oviatt and Literacy Coaches, Jacquie Bergerman, Trish Maxell, Kim Scharf and Kim Junk for their support of these assessments. Our goal of ensuring all students graduate with a strong literacy background remains our ending desire but can only be sustained through the work of every principal, teacher, support staff member, parent and child. At the same time, ensuring a safe and caring school environment for staff and students is critical and part of our effort in this area is around ensuring our administrators are trained in Violence Threat Risk Assessment (VTRA). I want to thank Coordinator of Learning Services, Jan Paproski and Superintendent, Crandall Hrynkiw and their administrative assistant, Shelley Schell for creating an opportunity that has led to every principal in Horizon having level 2 training. I look forward to the day when a protocol exists within Horizon’s boundary and every service agency, including health and justice, is tied to the protocol.

There was no school on Monday as it was Collaborative Learning Day for educational assistants, secretaries and teachers. As I mentioned last week, collaborative days are a great opportunity for our staff across Horizon to work together as they share and learn from and with their peers. I had the pleasure of attending, albeit briefly, at each of the sites where our staff was learning together and it is inspiring to see how people in our system are collaborating. At the secretary PD, a major part of the focus was on the new and improved processes that our new program for absence management, AESOP, provides. It is clear from the response I received when I asked the question, secretaries in Horizon greatly appreciate the work that has been done to provide this option to our staff.

Our educational assistants were involved in PD opportunities that ranged from learning how to support children from our own speech and language pathologists, to our occupational therapists, to our counsellors to Autism Services. I want to thank each of the presenters who supported this important group of paraprofessionals in their growth. I admire the fact that we can turn to our own professionals to lead learning for the benefit of staff across our system. Finally, I also want to thank the day’s organizers, Darrell and Jason Neville, Supervisor of Student Services, for helping to keep Horizon’s culture of collaboration strong. Of course, the organization of the PD could not be accomplished without the effort of administrative assistants, Deb Kuipers and Nicole Fitzpatrick, and I thank them for their incredible support of our EA collaborative day.

On late Monday afternoon, the Teacher Efficacy and Workload Intensification Committee (TEWIC) met at central office to continue their work. Our committee, made up of members of the Horizon Teachers’ Association, the Board of Education and the Senior Leadership Team and has been focused exploring best practices to support teacher efficacy and reduce teacher workload with an ultimate goal of best meeting the learning needs of students. We had the opportunity to review the survey results that were completed by Horizon teachers and to begin focusing on how these results may be used to support classrooms across our system. I know co-chairs, Randy MacLEAN and Nadine Jennison will be sharing more in the near future about the results of the committee’s work but I am eagerly anticipating the next steps of the committee that will serve to focus energies on refining our collaborative assessment work. I would also like to thank Nicole Fitzpatrick, administrative assistant, for her work in supporting the committee’s needs.

As Official’s Coordinator in Zone 5B for Sask Volleyball, I had another opportunity to lead Volleyball referee clinics last week. I met with approximately 10 people in Watrous on Monday evening and another 14 individuals in Kelvington on Tuesday. With these final two clinics, we ended up well-beyond our stated goal of having 50 people attend. It was great to see the enthusiasm at the clinics focused on supporting our student athletes.

The 2016 Saskatchewan Student Leadership Conference (SSLC) took place last week, September 21-23, in Maple Creek. I would like to thank our staff for their work in providing the opportunity to our students. I know that our students have represented Horizon in the best possible way and will take the lessons learned at the conference to their schools as leaders for positive change. Also, congratulations go out to Ms. Tina Edwards of Winston High, who won the Canadian Student Leadership Association Leader of Distinction Award for her support of student leadership. I know there are many deserving teachers in Horizon and Tina’s work has obviously stood out, inspiring not only her students, but her colleagues, as well.

On Tuesday, the Director’s Leadership Team met at the Humboldt Uniplex for the first of 6 professional development days, spread throughout the school year. School and system administrators had the chance to review and discuss Horizon’s Strategic Plan “A3” documents. To clarify, “A3” is the term used for the specific planning tool used at the provincial level but its name is simply derived from the size of paper required to print the plans. In my office, A3s have been developed for our Literacy, Safe & Caring and Assessment goals, as well as a unique plan for First Nation & Métis education. The learning opportunity taken from the day will inform the work of our staff and administrators in developing A3s for school learning improvement plans (LIPs). We also had professional development sessions on information and reporting in the government’s Student Data System (SDS), an overview of financial reporting in Horizon, an AESOP Absence Management System question and answer session and case studies related to Human Resources and Violence Threat Risk Assessment (VTRA). Administrators closed out the meeting working in their school-alike collaborative groups.

I took a brief leave from the DLT sessions on Tuesday to speak with Bolt FM regarding the recent provincial Graduation Rate Symposium and Horizon’s Collaborative Learning Days. As always, I am very appreciative of our local media who are so willing to engage in and share stories about the great work being done by staff in Horizon School Division.

Following our DLT meeting, Deputy Director, Randy MacLEAN and I met with Caitlin Hackl, Principal of Rose Valley School. It is critical that our first-year administrators, as with all administrators, know that our doors are always open for questions and support whenever it is needed.

I was in Saskatoon on Wednesday for a meeting with Dan Perrins, Executive-in-Residence at the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, University of Regina. Dan and his committee brought together Board Chairs, Directors of Education and members of the Ministry of Education for a presentation and discussion on a newly developed base instruction funding model that is being considered for provincial education funding in Saskatchewan. The meeting began with a brief overview of the day from Deputy Minister, Julie MacRae and finished with Julie and her team of Assistant Deputy Ministers leading a discussion related to sector efficiencies.      

While I was in Saskatoon, the deadline for nominations for the upcoming school board election was also occurring on Wednesday. Thank you to Horizon’s election team, led by Superintendent of Finance Services/CFO, Marilyn Flaman, who is also serving as Returning Officer for Horizon and Englefeld Protestant Separate School Division. I would also like to thank our school staffs and secretaries for ensuring that notices regarding the election were posted in schools and communities in a timely fashion. The notices can also be found on our Horizon website, along with a list of nominated and acclaimed candidates, at www.horizonsd.ca/board/electioninfo. I would like to congratulate each of the 6 acclaimed candidates for the Horizon Board and look forward to working with each of them beginning November 2nd at the organizational meeting. I also wish all the best to the candidates in each sub-division across Horizon as they campaign toward election day on October 26th. Information regarding advance polls and polling stations will be made available in the coming days but it will most assuredly be a busy election in Horizon as 8 elections will occur in the remaining Horizon sub-divisions in order to establish our Board of 14 members.

On Thursday morning, I joined Horizon’s Table Officers, Jim Hack, Chair, and Wil Lengyel, Vice Chair at Saskatoon Public School Division for a Public Section meeting. Public Section is comprised of public school boards from across the province with a mandate of supporting the work of public education in the province. Immediately following Public Section, the Board Chairs Council held a meeting with the executive of the SSBA and, as Directors are not part of the council, we took the opportunity to meet on our own.

Beginning Thursday evening, the Saskatchewan School Board Association (SSBA) held the first of two Members’ Council meetings (fall and spring). The meeting on Friday morning began with a message from our Minister of Education and Deputy Premier, the Honorable Don Morgan. Mr. Morgan discussed, among other items, the “Transformational Change” agenda that has had Boards and staffs across the province contemplating. Mr. Morgan answered numerous questions from trustees before he left and I know Boards appreciated his willingness to listen to the issues brought forward from the sector. Members’ Council wrapped-up late Friday afternoon, but I stepped out for a few hours to attend a memorial service held for the late Mr. Bill MacFarlane. As some of you likely know, Bill served 6 years as the Director of Education for Englefeld Protestant Separate School Division and prior to that, was a long time Director of Education in the legacy school division, Saskatoon (West) SD. He was a great leader and mentor to many and he is already sorely missed.

It is with the same heavy heart that I need to share the equally tragic news of another tremendous loss to our Horizon family. Mr. Wade Weseen, long time teacher, mentor, friend and coach, passed away on September 22nd. Wade was an incredible individual who touched the lives of numerous students, staff and community members over the course of his career, but his incredible spirit reached far beyond school gymnasiums and classrooms. On behalf of everyone in Horizon, our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Weseen’s family and friends as we join in mourning his loss.

It is in the memory of those who are no longer with us, combined with the knowledge of the challenges that grief can have on each of us, that I leave you with this quote from autobiographical author, Anne Lamott. Anne stated, “You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up.”

Have a great week, everyone.

- Kevin

Kevin C. Garinger  B.Ed., M.A.Ed.
Director of Education/CEO
Horizon School Division #205
Englefeld Protestant SSD #132
Kevin.garinger@horizonsd.ca