Like many of you, I enjoyed watching the Super Bowl this weekend. While I love watching when I can during the season, there is something about this game, this day, this weekend that is universally understood as it is truly the culminating event. Even if you aren’t a football fan, the half time show is worth watching and, even if you are not a music fan, the commercials seem to always live far beyond the event. Of course, in Canada, we don’t get the American Super Bowl commercials so I took the opportunity to watch them online as I was writing this edition of TWIH. Many of them provide a much appreciated chuckle. As I watched Sunday, I noted that the game was a mix of offense and defense and although the defense stood out, winning or losing was a mix of both.
Super Bowl 50 also makes me reflect on the work we are doing across Horizon. It is true we are building a strong system of offence and defense, necessary to support our kids as they enter the final months of this 2015-16 season. We continue to change our plans in our playbooks, even having to call the odd “audible”, as we try to find and apply the necessary tools in addressing the demands that each learning situation requires. We have the experience of qualified “coaches” and resources to get past the “opposition” we know challenges our success. Finally, we have to ensure that our “practices” are effective in meeting the needs of our classrooms and students so when game time is on, we’re able to manage the field with an ease and a fluid voice. This work takes a will that I see on a regular basis across our system and I thank our staff for not only considering the best practice, but helping each other define it. The Broncos won and it took an entire organization to get to that point. We can learn a lot from their success.
It is very fitting to share a huge “thank you” to Horizon’s incredible teachers and support staff considering this upcoming week (February 7-13) has been proclaimed by the Ministry of Education as Teacher/Staff Appreciation Week. As we join to celebrate and thank our remarkable education professionals and para-professionals, I would like to share some very impressive numbers from my visit to Cudworth School which serve as a reminder of the important work our teachers and support staff do every day. Educators across our system have been focused on the three foundational goals of our system. At Cudworth, a great example of the effect this has had on the learning success of our students can be found by looking at the reading results their Grade 3 class has enjoyed. I learned that there is significant growth in reading and it stems from their class having read for a total of 35,552 minutes in the first five months of school. That’s 592.5 hours! These are impressive numbers for any age and even more so for a Grade 3 class. The excitement and enthusiasm expressed by their teacher, Trina Pasloski, was contagious as she shared her work and the work of her students. One of the children who struggled in reading and had other needs that required additional support, expressed to her after making huge gains in his learning over the last months in part, due to the focus on reading, “I want you to know, I love you today”. Trina responded, “I’ve always loved you". As I still have tears welling up just thinking about the amazing relationships Trina has developed with her students, it also brought home to me how connected our three goals are – strong practice brings success for kids through the powerful work we do in assessment which ultimately leads to a safe and caring place for students to learn. The cycle continues as we ensure that every student’s needs are met as we build capacity in meeting their challenges and supporting them. However, we can only do this if we truly know our students as individuals, both as young people and as the learners they are. I know that this is only one example of many that can be found each and every day in our schools and I am extremely proud that our work is having such a profound impact on our children.
I began the day on Monday with Horizon Teachers’ Association (HTA) President, Dustin Hubick as we discussed options for next year’s school calendar. As you know, a survey was sent out to all staff last week asking staff for preferences as we finalize the calendar and I appreciate the feedback we have received. The 2016-17 school year will once again see a one day August Teachers’ Convention on August 27, 2016 with a location to be announced through the Convention Committee.
A meeting of the Senior Leadership Team was postponed on Tuesday so I had a chance to catch up on a number of things around the office including putting the final touches on the school year survey. In the afternoon, I was joined in my office by Deputy Directors, Randy MacLEAN and Lionel Diederichs and our Board of Education Table Officers, Jim Hack and Wil Lengyel, for an agenda meeting to prepare for the upcoming Board Meeting on February 10. As always, this meeting is critical to ensure that our Board Meeting runs as smoothly as possible and I appreciate the guidance and support of our Trustees in this process.
Horizon’s Writer-In-Residence, Sigmund Brouwer, was in our schools for his second tour of the school year last week. He visited Archerwill, Rose Valley, Robert Melrose and Kelvington High on Tuesday, Punnichy High, Punnichy Elementary and Wynyard High on Wednesday, Leroy, Watson, Muenster and Humboldt Public on Thursday and Lanigan Elementary and Viscount Central on Friday. Along with our teachers, administrators, support staff and Literacy Team, Sigmund’s work with students this year has been invaluable as we continue to improve learning outcomes and engage our kids in a love of reading. I would like to thank Sigmund and everyone involved in for their continued dedication to the reading success of our students.
I met with Lionel in Saskatoon on Wednesday to prepare for an Administration Meeting between Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools (GSCS) and Horizon School Division. The Administration Meeting took place later that afternoon and provided an opportunity to discuss a number of items which focus on the Joint Administration Agreement we enjoy with GSCS.
On Thursday, I had the opportunity to spend the day in Cudworth School with their principal, students and staff. Joining me were Jason Neville, Supervisor of Student Services, Crandall Hrynkiw, Superintendent of Learning Services and Deputy Director, Randy MacLEAN. During our time in Cudworth, we had the pleasure of meeting the Sergeant from the Wakaw Detachment and our discussions turned toward School Safety Plans and Violence Threat Risk Assessment (VTRA) protocol. I remain optimistic as I heard of the commitment from the RCMP to schools in following VTRA protocol from a preventative practice lens in dealing with violence and threat assessment. Establishing a protocol across Horizon School Division has been a major focus I share with our Board and is not only desperately needed, appears to be our next order of business. I will be sharing training opportunities with our partners as we move forward with the potential establishment of a protocol across our system.
Deputy Director of Corporate Services, Lionel Diederichs, Superintendent of Student Services, Darrell Paproski, Superintendent of Finance Services, Marilyn Flaman, Superintendent of Operational Services, Justin Arendt travelled to Edmonton to complete their 7 Habits certification Thursday and Friday. We will now have four additional trainers available to lead these sessions as we continue to support staff and students across our division in this outstanding personal development practice.
The Saskatchewan School Boards Association (SSBA) Members Council met in Regina on Thursday and Friday. I had the opportunity to attend part of the morning session on Friday along with Horizon’s Board Chair, Jim Hack and Vice-Chair, Wil Lengyel. Also in attendance were Deanna Miskolczi and Larry Muller, Chair and Vice-Chair from Englefeld Protestant Separate School Division where I provide CEO services. The sessions began Thursday evening and wrapped up Friday afternoon and the group had the opportunity to hear from our Minister of Education, Mr. Don Morgan and the Saskatchewan Professional Teacher Regulatory Board Chief Operating Officer, Trevor Smith and others. One of the key topics at the council was focused on our need to support children and adults who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer. Trustees were able to take part in discussions and listen to presenters share relative paradigms on a topic that is quickly requiring support from school divisions.
On my way home Friday, I had the opportunity to visit Watson School and personally invite Grade 1-4 students and staff to join us at central office during our Board Meeting on Wednesday, February 10th. There will be a special guest joining us for our meeting and more information will be shared in the near future. It is always great to engage our students with the work of our Board and we’re looking very forward to their visit. I travelled from there to Annaheim and met with principal, Karma Knittig before returning to Humboldt.
I had the pleasure of being in Saskatoon on the weekend as I once again officiated volleyball, a process that will support my level 3 certification. I enjoy engaging with our youth in this way and it is fitting to say a huge thank you to Horizon SD staff and parents who have provided their time so students can continue to enjoy their passion. The same can be said of the time and effort that is being spent by staff and parents who are supporting a myriad of other sports and activities throughout our Division and throughout the province. Your efforts do not go unnoticed and our students are fortunate to have you involved in their lives.
Have a great week, everyone.
Kevin C. Garinger, B.Ed, M.A.Ed
Director of Education/CEO
Horizon School Division No. 205