This past week was shortened for our staff and students as Monday was a day in lieu of parent/teacher/student conferences. November 13-19 was also "Bullying Awareness Week" in Canada and this year, the theme was "Stand Up! (to bullying)". It is critical that students feel safe in our schools, and spreading this annual awareness campaign is an important reminder that we need to have supports in place for students who experience bullying. Students can always turn to school staff or a trusted adult to talk about bullying and we need to encourage our children to do this when necessary. However, one of the other important considerations is to provide the necessary education to identify what is bullying behavior and what is not. Recently, Jan Paproski, Coordinator of Learning Services, sent a document to principals regarding this exact consideration. Bullying is somewhat of a "catch phrase", used to represent many different behaviors and it is our responsibility as educators to help our students and parents understand the difference. The document I am referring to is called, "Peer Conflict Mean Behavior Bullying - What's the Difference
". The information came from the Digital Threat Assessment training session hosted by Safer Schools Together, an organization tightly connected to Kevin Cameron's work with the Canadian Centre for Threat Assessment and Trauma Response (CCTATR). 10 Horizon employees, including Jan, attended and brought back a number of important elements from the training that can support our work in our schools. Of course, when it is bullying, we need to turn to resources such as those developed in Saskatchewan such as, http://iamstronger.ca
, which includes Saskatchewan's anonymous online bully reporting tool.
The Saskatchewan School Boards Association (SSBA) Fall General Assembly continued on Tuesday in Saskatoon. Trustees began their morning with a brief discussion with Deputy Premier and Minister of Education, Don Morgan. Mr. Morgan announced that Dan Perrins, former Deputy Minister of Education and recent lead on the funding model review in our sector, would be leading a review directly related to school division governance in our province. Following the Minister's forum, the SSBA chose a new provincial executive, with Dr. Shawn Davidson of the Prairie South Board of Education being elected as the SSBA President and Aleana Young of Regina Public elected as Vice-President. A full list of the new executive can be found in the SSBA's media release and I have included a link here
. I would like to congratulate each of these new executive members on their new roles, and thank the out-going executive members for their service representing trustees and advocating for education in Saskatchewan.
On Tuesday afternoon, I joined my fellow Directors of Education and Ministry of Education personnel, as those of us who are owners of the Education Sector Strategic Plan priorities and outcomes, made a presentation to the Chairs of the 28 Boards of Education in the province. A discussion was held related to the Saskatchewan Professional Teacher Regulatory Board (SPTRB) before I headed back to Humboldt for a short media interview with the Humboldt Journal.
On Tuesday evening, I travelled to Wynyard for a meeting of the Horizon Teachers' Association held at Wynyard Composite High School. I appreciated the invitation from HTA President, Gerard Frison and the executive to participate in their meeting and I graciously accepted and asked Randy MacLEAN, Deputy Director of Education, to join me. Meetings such as these are tremendous opportunities to open dialogue and discuss issues relevant to teachers within our school division. I look forward to further opportunities such as this as it served to bring a critical perspective and an important voice from teachers across the system.
This past week marked the beginning of our fall Learning Improvement Plan (LIP) reviews. Superintendent of Learning Services, Crandall Hrynkiw, Superintendent of Student Services, Darrell Paproski and myself meet at each school in Horizon three times per year to review the staff's planning documents with administrators. This year, we made significant changes to the LIPs as we incorporated A3s into the electronic goal development process and, after reviewing the first fifth of our schools, our principals and their staffs have easily adjusted to this new and improved planning tool. On Wednesday, we travelled to Ituna School, Punnichy Elementary, George Gordon Education Centre and Sask Central Hutterian School and on Thursday, we travelled to Foam Lake Elementary, Foam Lake Composite, Wynyard Elementary and Wynyard Composite. As has been the case since we began this process two years ago, I am proud to say that the efforts of our administrators and staff show great collaboration and strong plans for successful learning opportunities for our students.
On Thursday evening, I met with Tish Karpa, member of the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation (STF) senior administrative staff. Horizon enjoys a positive relationship with the STF, and I was grateful that Ms. Karpa took the time to meet with me in my office to discuss a number of items related to our important partnership.
On Friday morning, my Senior Leadership Team (SLT), made up of Randy MacLEAN, Superintendent of Learning Services, Crandall Hrynkiw, Superintendent of Student Services, Darrell Paproski, Superintendent of Finance Services/CFO, Marilyn Flaman, Superintendent of Operation Services/COO, Justin Arendt and Superintendent of Human Resource Services, Todd Gjevre. Our meeting was an opportunity to discuss items such as the professional development plan for our upcoming Director's Leadership Team meeting as well as to briefly review the results from the 2015-16 OurSchool teacher survey. I greatly appreciate the work of my SLT and the collaborative efforts of each of our Services to improve outcomes for our system.
Following the SLT meeting, I travelled to Lanigan Central High School and Lanigan Elementary School to take part in SHSAA 4A Girls Volleyball Provincial Championship. I joined Mark Fedak, trustee for Subdivision 4, to bring greetings on behalf of Horizon and the Board during the opening ceremonies. Superintendent of Human Resource Services, Todd Gjevre and I also served as the head official for the tournament in Lanigan. In addition to 4A girls competing in Lanigan, Muenster hosted the 2A Girls tournament and Rose Valley & Kelvington welcomed the 1A girls to their gyms. I am proud to say that we had 7 HCAA teams competing this weekend, with Rose Valley, Muenster, Lanigan, Englefeld, Ituna, Wynyard and Wakaw all vying for their corresponding provincial championships. I would like to share a huge thank-you to our host communities and all students, staff and community volunteers for their work to provide these opportunities this past weekend and throughout the year. Following two great days of competition and sportsmanship, I am very proud to share that Rose Valley won gold and Englefeld won bronze in the 1A division, Muenster won gold in the 2A division and Wynyard won bronze in the 3A division. This is a great accomplishment and I congratulate all teams for their athleticism but, most importantly, I congratulate our youth for the way they represented their schools, school divisions, communities and themselves. While tournaments and competitions seem to identify "champions", the quality of sportsmanship and teamwork that I witnessed would lead any spectator to believe that all participants were champions, both on and off the court. As a staff member from Lanigan stated, "They were all champions before the provincials", and I know the same can be said of each athlete from each team who worked throughout the season and who didn't have the chance to participate in these culminating events. Like the tree we see above the ground, we can be happy for the accomplishments of our athletes. But the roots, the true character of our youth, leaves us proud and hopeful for our future.
Finally, as I began "This Week" talking about safe and caring, so too will I close. Remembering the past is important in our affects toward establishing culturally responsive norms in our schools. On November 15th, we marked the celebration of Louis Riel, the founder of Manitoba as established through legislation in 1992. As is stated on the Louis Riel website, "Louis Riel is recognized as an advocate of justice for the Métis people, but he represents much more. He helped lay the framework for minority rights and cultural co-operation, and is regarded as a founder of Manitoba. It is very important to remember Louis Riel's contribution to Canada and specifically to recall that he was executed for being a persistent advocate for the rights of his people." It is our responsibility in education to ensure cultures within our society are revered and not rejected. As Riel once stated, "We must cherish our inheritance. We must preserve our nationality for the youth of our future."
Have a great week, everyone.
Kevin C. Garinger, B.Ed, M.A.Ed
Director of Education/CEO
Horizon School Division No. 205Kevin.firstname.lastname@example.org