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Horizon School Division
Creating a better world, one student at a time.
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February 3, 2017 - A Message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education

February 06, 2017

I want to begin TWIH by reminding everyone that February is Aboriginal Storytelling Month in Saskatchewan. This is the 14th year of this initiative, which celebrates and promotes the cultural traditions and oral history of First Nations and Métis people. I recognize that many of our schools will be honoring First Nation "ways of knowing" with numerous opportunities for our children and students including First Nation and Métis author readings and cultural projects. I would ask you to share your school or classroom event(s) with my office in order that we can support and recognize your work. In light of this opportunity to celebrate, I would like to share the following Cree proverb, which states, "Realize that we as human beings have been put on this earth for only a short time and that we must use this time to gain wisdom, knowledge, respect and understanding for all human beings, since we are all relatives". For more information on Aboriginal Storytelling Month events happening across Saskatchewan this February, you can visit the Library Services for Saskatchewan Aboriginal Peoples website at https://lssap.wordpress.com/aboriginal-storytelling-month-2017/.  

Monday was a non-instructional day so I began my week at Watrous Elementary facilitating the final day of 7 Habits training for school staff. I know other schools across Horizon were engaged in this training or other PD relevant to the important work going on in our classrooms. I would like to thank Principal, Pat Borsa and his school staff members for their participation and willingness to engage in this great program. The "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" training can have a profound impact on individuals as it offers lessons focused on developing self, improving relationships, heightening leadership skills and synergistic collaboration. The program provides benefit not only to individuals and to their effectiveness, but can serve to enhance the culture of a school or organization, as a whole. While in Watrous, I was able to celebrate the retirement of educational assistant, LeeAnne Dengler. Ms. Dengler has spent a great deal of time supporting students in Horizon and her care and passion for our students was evidenced in a video the WES staff played for her. I would like to take the opportunity to thank LeeAnne and wish her a wonderful retirement filled with more time for her family and, specifically, her grandchildren.

On Monday night, I travelled to Regina to take part in a week of meetings beginning with Tuesday's meeting with my fellow Directors of Education. This full-day meeting focused on a number of topics school divisions are grappling with including a significant discussion of the Perrins report and the potential for transformational change in the education sector. Now that the public consultation process and advisory panel sessions have concluded, we have heard loud and clear from stakeholders and the public, and we trust that the provincial government will consider this feedback when making their decision regarding the future of education in our province.

An ESSP Level 1, Cycle 2 Extended Wall Walk was held on Wednesday along with Plan Finalization for Cycle 3. As you may know, the term "wall walk" refers to the practice of displaying our sector data for our team of educators and Ministry personnel to view and assess. This process has morphed from a physical display to an electronic display of the sector data and I find it to be easily more accessible for our provincial organizations. The sector data needs to be shared with stakeholders in our province and having a physical display, while effective in schools is much less manageable at the provincial level. Following the data walk, we met as a Provincial Leadership Team (PLT) to finalize the plan for the next cycle of goals found within the Education Sector Strategic Plan (ESSP). Cycle 2 is a two-year plan ending in August of 2017 so the opportunity to finalize the Cycle 3 plan, which runs from September, 2017 to August 2019, was critical for the sector. I will share the final plan with the Board at our next meeting on February 8 and then share it with administrators on February 9 at the Director's Leadership Team (DLT) meeting. For those of you who are interested, I will provide a link to the final plan for Cycle 3 once the electronic version is available. I encourage you to take the time to ask me questions regarding the Cycle 3 plan as well as to discuss the potential opportunities and implications on our school division.

The Saskatchewan School Boards Association (SSBA) Public Section met in Regina on Thursday morning, beginning with an update on the Theodore Litigation Case and proceeding to discussion on the transformational change agenda. Horizon Board Vice-Chair Wil Lengyel joined me for the meeting. As you are aware, the impact on public school boards in Saskatchewan related to the Perrins' Report is potentially significant and the Public Section, which is comprised of most of the public school divisions in the province, has been advocating alongside SSBA for maintaining local voice in education. Members were provided an opportunity to discuss their individual and collective responses to the Perrins' report by sharing insights into the conversations they had with the Ministry's advisory panel. As with organizations across the province, SSBA Public Section had an overwhelming response from stakeholders in support of locally elected boards. The 6-member panel is planning to provide a written report to the Minister regarding their findings in the next week or two and I should remind everyone, they are not providing any recommendations to the Minister or Cabinet. The focus of the panel was to remain firmly on data gathering and on developing a report based on what they heard.  

Following the Public Section meeting, Wil joined me and other members of the Provincial Leadership Team (PLT) as we presented the finalized matrix and plan for Cycle 3 of the ESSP. As the primary owner of the Sector-Wide Efficiencies outcome, I presented changes made to this area of the plan in a similar manner as the other outcome and priority owners. This latest Cycle of the ESSP is the result of a great deal of collaboration and planning and the efforts of the entire PLT will continue to provide benchmarks for the critical work that happens every day in our schools and facilities in support of student learning. Immediately following the presentation, Horizon Chair Jim Hack, who recently arrived, joined other Board Chairs and Directors and along with the SSBA executive, met to discuss the impending budget challenges for the year 2017-18. The provincial budget is set to be announced on March 22, 2017 and, as the province is managing nearly a billion dollar deficit, there was a significant need to discuss the impending funding shortfall education may be facing.

SSBA held their Members' Council, beginning Thursday evening and wrapping-up on Friday afternoon. Members' Council is comprised of table officers from all school divisions in the province as well as Directors of Education and the executive of the SSBA. To begin the evening meeting, Jim, Wil and I had an opportunity to hear from the Deputy Premier and Minister of Education, Honorable Don Morgan, who offered a message focused on advocacy in our sector. The remainder of the event was comprised of information sessions and discussions about a number of important items that relate to educational governance in this province. Marilyn Flaman, Superintendent of Finance Services/CFO and Kim Junk, Horizon Literacy Coach, presented on our LEAN Literacy event held in the spring of 2015. The effect of the LEAN event has been astronomical in Horizon SD, as it has led to a number of initiative focused on improving literacy opportunities for staff and students in Horizon School Division. I want to thank Kim and Marilyn for their tremendous presentation as a number of school divisions across our sector were very interested in the impact our focus on literacy has had in our schools.

On Saturday and Sunday, I joined countless Horizon students, staff and families at the Sask Volleyball "Sask Cup" tournament held in Saskatoon where I participated as an official for the event. I was grateful to have been a part of this display of student athleticism and sportsmanship, and would like to thank community volunteers, parents and school staff for their work in providing these opportunities for our student athletes.

Finally, I feel it is necessary to congratulate Mr. Gerard Frison, HTA President and committed New England Patriots fan. Mr. Frison's team won their 5th Super Bowl on Sunday, in nothing short of inspiring fashion. For any Patriot fans out there, I know you, like everyone who watched the Super Bowl, were awestruck by the tenacity and courage of your team. The "never give up" attitude on display throughout the game is something those of us in education can learn from as we deal daily with significant challenges in our sector and in our classrooms. As Stephen R. Covey, author of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People stated, "Whatever the mind of [a person] can conceive and believe it can achieve." He went on to indicate, "But you can't be successful with other people if you haven't paid the price of success with yourself."

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