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Horizon School Division
Creating a better world, one student at a time.
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October 14, 2016 - A Message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education

October 17, 2016

My hope, as we headed into this past week, was that everyone returned well-rested on Tuesday after an extended long weekend for students and a long weekend for staff, courtesy of Thanksgiving. I spent my Tuesday at home with a flu bug I picked up while visiting two of my sons in Edmonton. The day wasn’t a complete write-off as I was able to address a few emails and the odd phone call while resting.

An unknown author once wrote: “You can’t have a good day with a bad attitude, and you can’t have a bad day with a good attitude.” I work in Horizon, so everyday is a great day and the people I work with (and for) make it easy to maintain a great attitude. I could provide a hundred examples from the last week but here are only a few that resulted from my experiences Friday evening and Saturday. I had the pleasure to perform the opening kickoff in Wynyard at the Golden Bears’ Friday Night Lights game to “Tackle Hunger”. The event was a joint effort between Wynyard Composite High School, Winston High School and Sofina Fine Foods and an excellent reminder of the power school activity has to bring communities together in support of one another. Both teams, their coaching staff, fans and officials did a tremendous job of supporting the foodbank and although I wasn’t able to stay for the entire game, it was a huge success, and the real winners were those who benefitted from the charitable work of these communities. It was pretty easy to feel inspired.

I also spent time Friday afternoon and all day Saturday refereeing volleyball at HCI where 7 of the 12 teams were from Horizon. As is the norm for our school division, the student athletes competed hard, but always with the same outstanding attitude exhibited by their fans and coaches. I was only slightly kidding when I mentioned to a few staff members that we could have had a pretty large staff meeting with all the Horizon personnel who were coaching and spectating in support of our kids. The tournament was extremely well run and is a terrific example of what I am very much used to when I travel to our Horizon schools during an evening or weekend of sports or the arts. Our students are fortunate to have this support…but we are equally fortunate to have these Horizon students to support!

I find this as a fitting start to “This Week” considering we are preparing for Education Week, October 16-22. I want to extend my appreciation to all staff as we recognize the efforts of the adults in our system who support student achievement and teaching excellence every day in our schools. This year’s theme, “Celebrating Today, Preparing for Tomorrow”, brings to mind the focus of everyone in the education sector to work hard for a better future. When I think about the incredible things happening in our schools, it’s so easy to maintain a positive attitude each and every day.    

Horizon’s Board of Education met on Wednesday for our regular monthly meeting. With Board elections coming up on October 26, this was the last regular meeting of this Board as a new Board will be formed following the election. We wrapped-up a very full meeting with some emotional goodbyes to long-time trustees, Melva Desjarlais (Subdivision 14) and Murray Proznick (Subdivision 5), who will be moving on to new challenges at the end of their terms. Melva, who continues to be an inspiration to us all by exemplifying what it means to be a lifelong learner, will be pursuing a degree in education. Murray will continue to focus his time on other forms of community involvement. Horizon Trustees have done remarkable work and have accomplished incredible things in our system so I know I speak for our staff, students, parents and community partners when I echo how grateful we are for their dedication to improving the school division. It is clear that this Board has left a significant legacy, one that will remain long into the future. I want to wish each trustee the very best in whatever their future may hold. It has truly been my pleasure to support their vision, mission and values and to have such high expectations for which I am held accountable. I have learned a great deal from them and I am grateful to each for helping me become a better leader.

On Thursday, my Senior Leadership Team (SLT) met in the morning to discuss the ongoing development of Horizon’s strategic plan, curriculum renewal and development, data handling protocol and a number of other important issues. Immediately following, we held a meeting with our Central Office Administration Team (COAT) to share in discussion focused related to the development of Horizon’s strategic plan A3 documents. We focused most of our attention on Safe & Caring as we discussed many of the strategic actions being exercised at the system level to support the goal. I wrapped up the day with an evening teleconference meeting with the Executive Director of the Funding Branch of the Ministry of Education, discussing the new funding processes currently being considered for the sector. While we were in meetings, Literacy Coach, Kim Scharf and Trustee, Paul Crow-Buffalo attended a partnership meeting with the committee from the Punnichy Family Center at their grand opening.

On Friday, I travelled to Saskatoon for a Continuous Improvement/LEAN Sharing day facilitated by members of the support committee who represent the Sector-Wide Efficiencies Outcome of the Education Sector Strategic Plan (ESSP), for which I am the primary owner. Janet Wagner, Continuous Improvement and LEAN Leader for Horizon was part of the planning committee and I thank her and the rest of the committee’s leadership team from school divisions across Saskatchewan for preparing a great day of sharing and learning. I had the distinct pleasure of introducing our Deputy Minister of Education, Mrs. Julie McRae, who shared her passions and support for our sector plan work. Julie then introduced the Deputy Minister of Finance, Clare Isman, who shared her own passions related to continuous improvement and spent a good portion of her day learning about the good work that is happening in Saskatchewan’s education sector. I also had the honor to be part of the panel discussion that occurred in the morning and I appreciated listening to the passionate educators and leaders who shared their own continuous improvement work in their schools and school divisions. Horizon was also represented by Literacy Coach, Kim Junk, who did a tremendous job of sharing our LEAN event focused on grade 3 to 6 literacy and the impact that work has had on our systemic approach to literacy. While I was in Saskatoon, Superintendent of Student Services, Darrell Paproski, Supervisor of Literacy and Early Learning Services, Katherine Oviatt and Literacy Coach, Kim Scharf joined trustee Paul Crow-Buffalo at the grand opening of the Day Star First Nation Head-Start Facility. The ceremony and dedication was led by former Horizon principal, Sheila Kinequon and Head-Start early childhood educator, Erin Buffalo. We appreciate our strong partnership with Day Star and look forward to providing support to the Head-Start program and their Ages and Stages developmental assessment.

As I mentioned, I was in Humboldt and Wynyard for their student events but I know other events of a similar nature were provided by our staff and communities in support of our students. Lanigan held their Friday Night Lights game this past week and numerous other schools hosted volleyball tournaments. I was also very aware that provincial cross-country was held and that our students, as they so regularly do, made our system extremely proud. I would like to take this opportunity to once again thank our staff, coaches and community members for their willingness to provide these incredible opportunities to our students. I know this is only the tip of the iceberg in relation to what happens for Horizon students. You are appreciated and your energies will support the growth of so many others, including our students, who are daily witnesses to your undeniable pursuit of learning and growth. I leave you with this quote by Francois-Marie Arouet (known to most as Voltaire) who stated, “By appreciation, we make excellence in others our own property.”    

Finally, I would ask that you keep two of our students, who were in car accident, in your thoughts or prayers. Kloey Bells, daughter of Watrous teachers Colleen and Lee, underwent emergency surgery today while Lindy Brookbank, one of our Lanigan students, was only recently released from Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon. Both young ladies are recovering but at times like this, when our children are in pain, knowing their Horizon family is thinking about them is as powerful a message that anyone can send.

With Kloey and Lindy in mind, have a great week, everyone.

- Kevin

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