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Horizon School Division
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January 20, 2017 - A Message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education

January 23, 2017

Sunday, January 22nd marked a very somber anniversary for our province and country as we recognized the one-year anniversary since the La Loche School shooting. During this difficult time, my thoughts are with the students, staff and community of La Loche and the families of everyone directly affected by that tragic day. I would also like to remind everyone in Horizon that we have supports in place for any student who may wish to speak to an adult regarding this event or who may have difficult feelings associated with it. As you may have seen, while we mourn the anniversary of this tragedy, La Loche School was closed on Friday in response to a threat that was later deemed by the RCMP to be a non-legitimate risk. We as educators and community members need to be aware that this is an extremely difficult time for many people in our communities and our province, and we need to be prepared to provide support as needed. 

Horizon’s Writer-In-Residence, Sigmund Brouwer, was busy visiting Grade 3 classrooms in schools across Horizon and Englefeld this past week. Sigmund worked with teachers to get students excited about writing and reading and served to support teachers who will be preparing their students for the Provincial writing assessments in grade 4, beginning the 2017-18 school year. On Monday, he travelled to schools in Wakaw, Cudworth and Bruno and on Tuesday, he made his way to Raymore, Sask Central Hutterite Colony and Nokomis. He then found himself in Drake, Lanigan and Humboldt Public on Wednesday and in Lakeside Colony, Quill Lake and Englefeld School on Thursday. He wrapped-up his tour on Friday with visits to Imperial, Watrous and Viscount. I would like to thank Sigmund for his work to engage our students along with school administrators, teachers and Horizon’s Literacy Team.

Last week, Winston High Principal, Terry Braman travelled to Texas as part of the coaching staff with Saskatchewan’s Under 17 football team competing in the International Bowl. I would like to congratulate Terry on this opportunity and thank him for his work to support Saskatchewan’s student athletes.

This past week, the Provincial Leadership Team (PLT) held a number of discussions via web conference. On Monday morning, we met via Adobe Connect to discuss the Education Sector Strategic Plan (ESSP)’s graduation rate outcome and on Monday afternoon, we discussed the sector-wide efficiencies outcome.

On Monday evening, the Englefeld Protestant Separate School Division (EPSSD) Board of Education held their monthly meeting. I joined this meeting, along with CFO, Marilyn Flaman, COO, Justin Arendt and Executive Assistant, Melanie Gray. As always, it was a productive meeting and we had the chance to discuss such items as staffing, the development of next year’s school calendar, and the talk of transformational change in our sector.

On Tuesday, ESSP outcome owners had the opportunity to present to the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) and First Nations Directors of Education during what is referred to as a “Connect the Dots” session. I joined two other Directors from across Saskatchewan in presenting at the session. It is important to consider the potential benefit of building relationships with First Nations Directors as the partnership of all leaders is critical to ensuring a bright future for all Saskatchewan’s students. Also on Tuesday, the PLT held web conferences to discuss the universal student information system (USIS) priority and the Early Years outcome of the ESSP.

Members of the executive of the Horizon Teachers’ Association (HTA) joined members of Horizon’s Board of Education Tuesday afternoon for a Liaison Committee meeting. Members of the Liaison committee from the HTA executive included Gerard Frison (President), Penny Bugera (VP), Rob Lissinna, Kelly Sherman and Lynda-Rae Schmale, while the Board was represented by trustees Wil Lengyel and Christine Gradin, Randy MacLEAN and me. Jim Hack (Board Chair) and Marilyn Flaman (CFO) were unavailable for Tuesday’s Liaison meeting. Our discussion focused on various items brought to the agenda from both parties and was followed by a supper with the majority of the members of Horizon’s Board and HTA Executive. Randy and Marilyn joined me for the supper, which was led by the HTA and focused on getting to know each other. The deeply positive relationship our Board enjoys with the HTA was evident during both our meeting and the supper and we look forward to continuing our collaborative work for students and staff.

Our Review of School Effectiveness (ROSE) team conducted our latest ROSE event in Imperial School last Wednesday. I would like to offer a huge thanks to Principal Carol Baade and the staff, students and community members, including members of the local SCC, for their participation and feedback throughout this event. The work of all these stakeholders and our ROSE organizers in central office made this ROSE another successful data-gathering event that will help us celebrate the great work happening in our schools.

I wasn’t able to attend the beginning of the ROSE event as Randy MacLEAN and I, along with trustees, Wil Lengyel (Vice-Chair), Paul Crow-Buffalo, Albert Pinacie and Jolene Koopman, met with Day Star Chief and Council for a meeting to discuss our ongoing partnership and to share in dialogue related to the Perrins’ Report on Educational Governance. Our partnership has seen significant advancements in student learning outcomes in recent months and we received a letter from Touchwood Agency thanking us for supporting the early learning programs for Day Star and George Gordon First Nation children.    

Throughout the day on Wednesday, the PLT met via web conference to discuss Following Their Voices priority and the Reading, Writing, Math (RWM) outcome of the ESSP. On Thursday morning, the PLT met via web conference once again and discussed Indigenous Student Engagement and the ESSP’s Grad Rate outcome. Also on Thursday morning, I travelled to Imperial with Jason Neville, Supervisor of Student Services and Jan Paproski, Coordinator of Learning Services, to conduct the last of our focus group discussions with support staff for our Imperial School ROSE event. Jan and Jason will work at compiling the data from the event into a report that the staff will eventually be able to review and make decisions on related to learning improvement.

Randy and I held a meeting with representatives from the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation (STF) on Thursday afternoon. We always greatly appreciate the collaborative efforts with the STF as it relates to the needs of our staff and students.

I spent most of the day on Friday in the office, catching up on a number of items and holding meetings with various staff and education partners. Toward the end of the day, Deputy Minister, Julie McRae called an emergent meeting to discuss the recent announcement from the Minister related to In-scope and Out-of-Scope personnel salaries. More information will be shared with staff in the upcoming week(s) as the full intent of the message is understood.

This coming week, our Board will meet with the province’s advisory panel and share our thoughts relating to the recent educational governance review report commissioned by the Ministry of Education. The Board encouraged public feedback on this issue with a deadline for feedback of Monday, January 23. We are very hopeful that your voice, the voice of our communities, will be heard throughout this process. Our Horizon Board of Education will certainly continue to advocate for that voice as a decision related to Education Governance is being considered by Cabinet. If you have not had the chance, I encourage you to fill out the online survey provided by the Minister’s office. The link can be found at: http://www.saskatchewan.ca/government/public-consultations/share-your-thoughts-on-the-k-12-education-governance-review.

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