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Horizon School Division
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February 28, 2017 - A Message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education

February 27, 2017


I want to begin This Week in Horizon by reflecting on the "break" week first. I know we all need time to "recharge" during holidays such as these. I took some time during my break to travel to my hometown of Creighton, SK, spending time visiting, reminiscing and even ice fishing. It was on my first trip back to Miriachi Lake in close to 20 years, that I once again reflected deeply on change. I often am drawn to conversations regarding transformation and find myself thinking deeply on the topic because of something that happens. Well, I couldn't help but realize how greatly the trail to the lake had been altered over the time I had been away. I had spent a great deal of time on the bush roads to Miriachi, certainly at times with a desire to get to our fishing hole, but also countless times traveling these same trails hunting grouse. Sure, the trip still had some familiarity, but the bush roads were either grown over where they used to be considerably more open or they had been opened up significantly by clear-cutting and changes to the route. It was odd to realize just how different my world had become; to recognize that things I had always known had changed. Had I not recognized this and kept searching for what I used to know, I might still be trying to find my way.

Greek philosopher, Socrates once said, "The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new." I recognize that Horizon has seen a great deal of change in the last three years. I have also come to recognize that the vast majority of the system has been incredibly focused on building something new that, for the most part, makes us somewhat unrecognizable from our more distant past. Still, there are likely others of us who long to live in the world where, just like the trails to Miriachi, there was greater familiarity. Famed educational theorist, Michael Fullan, in his book entitled The Six Secrets of Change stated, "Change really isn't as hard as we thought if we capture people's interests and give them enjoyable, worthwhile experiences." Horizon has changed with intentions of engaging the staffs and students toward renewed opportunity and the view to an even greater world. As we continued to deepen our communication, the understanding around "why" we are working in this way, loomed obvious. Soon our system became fixed on measurable student achievement like never before and more focused on working together in support of improving practice through collective efficacy. In a very short "growing season", we have seen yields that should make each of us proud. We have established a new and improved trail and it has become our "new normal". Yet, with all that has changed and continues to be modified, an even greater, potentially less desirable shift is looming. It has caused great unrest in our communities and in the hearts and minds of our staff because, for the most part, we do not understand the "why" and we certainly do not have a picture of the "end in mind". Under the age-old construct referred to as transformational change, the education sector is considering major shift in governance structures and school division boundaries. There are many who are hoping that those who get to make the final decisions will not haphazardly begin "clearcutting and trail blazing" in such a way that we lose all familiarity with what we know has made us successful in our current reality. It is certainly my hope that in this time of uncertainty that we stay certain courses so that we can continue the good work that is the result of our own transformation.

Horizon celebrated February 13-17 with another fantastic Teacher/Staff Appreciation Week. I want to reiterate my thanks to our teachers and staff in Horizon and Englefeld Protestant Separate School Division for their ongoing support and work in meeting the needs of our students. Your efforts each day are making a real, positive impact in the lives of our children and that is something for which we can be incredibly proud.

On Monday the 13, I had the pleasure of joining our Review of School Effectiveness (ROSE) team at Lanigan Central High School for our ROSE event with staff, students and community members. As we sat with staff members, students and other stakeholders in the school community, we heard about the great work being done to make LCHS an effective school. The seven correlates that Dr. Larry Lezotte's research has developed and that are the foundation of our review process are certainly evident within Lanigan Central. I want to thank principal Jeff Stroeder and his staff and students for their willingness to share their practices and experiences with our central office team and visiting principals.

Horizon had the unique opportunity to welcome Bryan Trottier and Sigmund Brouwer to a number of our schools. Mr. Brouwer is of course Horizon's Writer-in-Residence and Mr. Trottier is a 7-time Stanley Cup champion, Hockey Hall of Famer and First Nation legend from Val Marie, Saskatchewan. On Monday, they travelled with Supervisor of Literacy and Early Learning, Katherine Oviatt, to Wynyard Composite, Wadena Composite, Humboldt Public and Humboldt Collegiate, sharing a combined message of supporting literacy while working hard and following dreams.

On Tuesday morning, I had the chance to join trustee, Christine Gradin at Lakeside Colony. I had the opportunity to meet briefly at the school and introduce Christine to principal Lorelei Johnson, her students and staff member. Christine and I then had a meeting with the manager at the Colony, Mr. Jonathan Tschetter. We appreciate our partnership with Lakeside Colony and it was good to meet with Mr. Tschetter and build upon the strong relationship that exists and that ultimately supports the needs of our children.

On Tuesday morning, Bryan and Sigmund visited Cudworth School for a presentation to students, then travelled to Punnichy Community High School in the afternoon. I joined them at PCHS along with students, staff, a number of our Board of Education Trustees and community members. Together, we celebrated the launch of Sigmund's latest book, Innocent Heroes. Last year, Sigmund worked closely with the Grade 9 class at PCHS to engage them in a love of literacy and get their input on the stories for this book. To thank them for their work on the novel, which included providing feedback on the First Nations character, Sigmund dedicated the book to these students, their teacher, Mr. Kelly Schermann, and Horizon's Supervisor of Literacy & Early Learning Services, Katherine Oviatt. This day was the official book launch for the book and was celebrated with dignitaries, Elders, and an honour song by Dusty Pelletier. The event culminated with a reception with Bryan Trottier and a book signing – by Sigmund as well as the grade 9 collaborators. Bryan left a signed jersey with the school to remind them of the important work they do to fulfill hopes and dreams. As a result of this work, Sigmund has created a scholarship through Red Deer College dedicated to Aboriginal Voices. Horizon's focus on literacy has seen remarkable results thanks to the hard work of our staff and students, and Sigmund has been a great partner in supporting that work. This project has been extremely rewarding for all involved and we could not be prouder of our students and our staff at Punnichy for their contributions to Innocent Heroes. For more information, please find this article on the project from the Leader Post: http://leaderpost.com/news/local-news/co-authoring-a-book-punnichy-students-literacy-skyrocketed.

The Englefeld Separate School Division Board of Education met for their regular meeting on the evening of Wednesday, February 15. On the agenda for discussion were the Ministry's educational governance review panel, the upcoming school year calendar and an update on literacy at Englefeld School.

Superintendent of Learning Services, Crandall Hrynkiw, Superintendent of Student Services, Darrell Paproski and I travelled to a number of schools this past week for our latest round of Learning Improvement Plan (LIP) reviews. The LIP reviews took us to Archerwill School, Rose Valley School, Robert Melrose Elementary, Kelvington High, Wadena Composite and Wadena Elementary on Wednesday and on Friday, we travelled to Annaheim School, Lake Lenore School, St. Brieux School, Three Lakes School and Muenster School.

On Thursday, I spent the majority of my day with Randy MacLEAN, Deputy Director, between George Gordon's and Punnichy, tending to meetings with some of our stakeholders. On Friday afternoon, I had a conversation with a reporter from the Humboldt Journal, relating to Teacher/Staff Appreciation Week. I always appreciate the opportunity to speak with our local media, who do a great job of sharing the important work we do in Horizon.

As I wrap up this installment of TWIH, I hope you all enjoyed Family Day and took time to relax and recharge over this February break.

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