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Horizon School Division
Creating a better world, one student at a time.
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October 7, 2016 - A Message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education

October 11, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I hope you had a restful weekend full of good food and great company. As we reflect on the things we are thankful for, I just want to say how extremely grateful I am to be Director of our school division. Of course, effective and authentic relationships are the cornerstone of any successful organization and when I reflect on the conversations I shared in this past week, I am blessed that relationships in our system are as strong as they appear. This past week found our staff and Board members attending Summit Saskatoon on Thursday and Friday. Following a similar event held in Calgary, Horizon was able to partner with the Summit organizers to bring Summit 14 to Saskatchewan. Despite less than ideal driving conditions, I am thankful that those teachers from across Horizon and across western Canada who were able to attend, were able to do so safely. The expert presentations from the likes of Dr. Janet Mort, Dr. Richard Allington, Matt Glover, Mike McKay, and ReLeah Cossett Lent, relating to improving learning opportunities for our primary, intermediate and secondary students supported the direction of our schools within Horizon. The theme of Summit Saskatoon, “When Struggling Readers Thrive, Dreams Come True”, spoke to the fundamental importance of supporting literacy and learning across all subjects and teachers of all disciplines and grade levels took advantage of these sessions to learn together and to share in discussions that will ultimately support our daily work. I am also thankful for the many central office staff who were involved in organizing this event, in particular Superintendent of Student Services, Darrell Paproski and Supervisor of Literacy and Early Learning, Katherine Oviatt, who spent countless hours with the Summit committee to ensure the two days went off without a hitch. Administrative assistant Deb Kuipers, executive assistants, Marni Sogge and Nicole Fitzpatrick and confidential secretary, Kim Loose were critical to ensuring the days were a success and I am humbled by their tireless efforts. I remain thankful to our Board of Education for supporting this work though the willingness to support the registration fees and for taking part in the summit. Lastly, I am especially thankful that our e-Journalism students were once again able to join us and provide coverage and highlights of our event. Without the commitment and support of Communications Officer, Lance Hiltz, the e-Journalism opportunity would not have occurred and I want to thank Lance for his willingness to support such a tremendous student learning opportunity. Some of the great work of our e-Journalism team can be found online at: ejournalismhorizon.wordpress.com.

This week marked the end of a couple of important data gathering responsibilities. Horizon submitted its enrollments for the 2016-17 school year and we appear to be sitting at just under 6400 students in our system. Over the next couple of weeks, my office will work with the Ministry and other school divisions as we identify conflicts and work to reconcile our numbers. As well, Fountas & Pinnell testing for our students (outside of grade 1) wrapped-up on October 3 and we are looking forward to reviewing our students’ results and celebrating the hard work of our teachers, support staff, students and parents/caregivers. The results will help shed a light on our continuing work in support of student literacy and identifying how we can support students even more effectively than we already are. The assessments essentially provide us with a roadmap for our literacy journey ahead, a journey that will ultimately lead to our ongoing focus of having 100% of Horizon students reaching their literacy levels.

Following last weekend that saw me joining trustee Jennifer Lemky at Viscount’s “Friday Night Lights” game (courtesy of the invitation from Principal, Ryan Heritage) and refereeing an exciting day of volleyball in Annaheim, Monday morning was another of my Director’s Leadership Team (DLT) Skype meetings. Administrators across Horizon discussed a number of items including the recently developed administrative procedure relating to student dismissal for transportation purposes, administration of the fall OurSchool Survey and numerous information items that will support our schools and system. So far, our Skype DLT meetings have been an effective way to share with and hear from our school principals on a regular basis without the cost and time it would take to travel to a central location.

On Tuesday, I travelled to Cudworth School to be part of our first ROSE (Review of School Effectiveness) of the 2016-17 school year. As you may recall from last year, ROSE is a strategic process that gathers feedback and data from staff, students, administrators, parents/caregivers, School Community Council (SCC) members and community members and celebrates the great things happening for our students while identifying those items necessary to support the school’s growth. I was joined for the day by Superintendent of Learning Services, Crandall Hrynkiw, Coordinator of Learning Services, Jan Paproski, Superintendent of Student Services, Darrell Paproski, Supervisor of Student Services, Jason Neville, Supervisor of Literacy & Early Learning Services, Katherine Oviatt, Principal of Lanigan Central High School, Jeff Stroeder, Principal of Imperial School, Carol Baade, Principal of Muenster School, Dennis Gerwing and Principal of Lanigan Elementary, Janice Fansher. Working to celebrate efforts at Cudworth School while continuing to be open to opportunities for improvement are important elements of why the ROSE process is such an important part of our work in Horizon. It was a full day for everyone including our students who joined Jason, Jan and me in four separate focus groups throughout the day. As with past ROSE events we have held, we had a positive and informative day and I appreciated the work of Crandall, Jason and Jan who prepared the day as well as the willingness of principal Lindsay Perry and his staff for welcoming the ROSE team and for being so accommodating throughout the day.

Unfortunately, I had to leave at the end of the school day in order to travel to Humboldt for an emergent meeting between Horizon School Division, Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools (GSCS) and the City of Humboldt. The three groups are working through some significant issues that have recently been identified in providing green space at Humboldt Collegiate Institute (HCI) for curricular and extra-curricular activity. Following the administration meeting, I headed back to our office and joined the Joint Operations Committee (JOC) meeting in order to discuss Horizon’s agreement with GSCS in the operation of HCI. Trustee, Denis Bergerman sits on the JOC along with Board Chair, Jim Hack, although Jim was unable to make it for the evening meeting. The committee is also comprised of GSCS trustees, Debbie Berscheid and Wayne Stus, Director of Education for GSCS, Greg Chatlain, Superintendent of Administrative Services/CFO, Joel Lloyd and Superintendent of HR, Al Boutin. Along with yours truly, Deputy Director, Randy MacLEAN, Superintendent of Finance Services/CFO, Marilyn Flaman, and Superintendent of Operational Services/COO, Justin Arendt make up the administration team for Horizon. Melanie Grey, Executive Assistant to Marilyn, provided our administrative support as we dealt with a number of issues relating to our partnership and the operation of HCI. While I was working with the JOC, Crandall and Jason met with parents and SCC members at Cudworth as part of the ROSE process that involves gathering information from focus groups. I look forward to sharing further in their discussions in the upcoming days.

Wednesday, October 5, was World Teacher Day. It is important that we take the time out of our busy lives to celebrate the work our teachers do each and every day, and this day is an excellent annual reminder of just that. I began my morning with a rather lengthy meeting at Muenster School. I had a great discussion with Principal Dennis Gerwing and some of the staff and it was fitting that this occurred on World Teacher Day, as much of our conversation centered on how we can better configure the school to make it more effective for teachers, support staff and students.

On Wednesday afternoon, I returned to central office for an agenda meeting to plan next week’s regular meeting of the Board. Along with Board Table Officers Jim Hack (Chair) and Wil Lengyel (Vice Chair), Randy, Marilyn and Justin joined us to go through the numerous items that comprise the agenda. Following the agenda meeting, the Board’s Audit Committee met to discuss this year’s ongoing external audit of our financials. The audit committee is made up of trustees including committee chair, Denis Bergerman and Albert Pinacie, Murray Proznick and Wil Lengyel and Marilyn provided us with an initial report.  

Of course, Thursday and Friday were professional development days for our teachers so with students returning from the extra-long weekend tomorrow morning, I hope everyone takes a bit of time to reflect on how much we have to be thankful for this time of year. Dr. Debasish Mridha, an American physician, philosopher, and author, likely said it the best I have ever heard. As a ‘seeker of the deepest truth that affects human destiny’, his empowering, insightful, thought-provoking, and life changing words have been ‘changing the human conscience everyday’. He stated, “As a flower expresses thanks with her beauty and fragrance for her magnificent life, let us express our gratitude to every friend with our service and love and to the Earth for her hospitality and care. Let us be thankful and let us express the deepest gratitude for our magnificent life.”

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