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Horizon School Division
Creating a better world, one student at a time.
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February 12, 2016 - A Message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education

August 08, 2016

February Break is now upon us and as we take this opportunity to enjoy time with loved ones and recharge our batteries for the remainder of the school year, I would like to look back and note what a great Teacher/Staff Appreciation Week we’ve had. I enjoyed hearing and seeing the various ways our staff was celebrated in schools across the system and we were happy to share fruit trays and other small tokens of appreciation with staff in each of our schools and facilities, including central office. In an interview with Bolt FM earlier last week, I noted that while the idea of an appreciation week is a great one, this should operate as a baseline from which we build on our appreciation of staff each and every day. Teachers and school support staff, bus drivers, caretakers, office administrators and everyone who works tirelessly for the shared goal of student learning, please know that everything you do plays a critical role in the success of our kids. It is important that you know, this week and throughout the year, how vital your work is to our system and how appreciated you are by everyone around you. I am reminded of the wise words of the Dalai Lama, who said: “the roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness.”  

One of the highlights of this past week was certainly the visit by Watson School Grade 1-4 students and staff at central office. Our students joined central office staff, our Board of Education and our Deputy Minister of Education, Julie MacRae. Minister of Education, the Honourable Don Morgan made a point of ensuring school divisions across the province who were involved in amalgamation 10 years ago, like Horizon School Division, were celebrated this week. Mr. Morgan intended to be with us but due to unforeseen circumstances, was unable to attend and Mrs. MacRae joined us in his place. It was a tremendous opportunity for us as well as Julie as she had never been to our office in Humboldt before. I had the opportunity to join the students for celebratory cake and pizza and many students shared Valentine’s Day cards with our Board and staff. Following lunch, I led a tour through our offices and shared a bit about the work of our Board as children sat at the boardroom table. We were treated to a presentation by the Grade 1/2 class who shared a presentation on how our Safe & Caring goal makes their school a better place followed by a presentation by the 3/4 class who shared a celebration of Literacy at Watson School. Our Board Chair, Jim Hack, shared a message of appreciation, as did the Deputy Minister. It is truly special to know that for 10 years now, a group of dedicated people have been working to establish the success we now enjoy in Horizon and will enjoy for many years to come.

My week began on Monday in a preparation meeting with our CUPE negotiating team. I joined Deputy Director Randy MacLEAN, Deputy Director/CFO Lionel Diederichs, Superintendent of Finance Services Marilyn Flaman and Human Resource Services Officer Monica Corrigan to ensure we were prepared and ready for our CUPE negotiations when they continued later that morning. Our talks continue to be very positive and I appreciate the work of the Horizon staff who make up the CUPE negotiating team, led by Bruno school secretary and CUPE Local 4799 President, Marie Moore, as we progress with development of a shared agreement.  

On Tuesday, I travelled with Lionel Diederichs and Manager of Facility Services Kam Kiland to George Gordon First Nation for a facility meeting at the George Gordon Education Centre. We enjoy a great partnership with George Gordon and we are happy to support their facility goals. Following this meeting, Lionel and I travelled to Englefeld for an evening meeting of the Englefeld Protestant Separate School Division (EPSSD) Board of Education.

Horizon’s Board held its regular monthly meeting Wednesday, February 10. As I mentioned, we paused this meeting around 11:00AM for a celebration with staff, students and Deputy Minister and it was a fantastic opportunity to connect with our students and give them a glimpse of the important work being done behind the scenes to support their learning. As we reconvened the meeting, our Board shared a number of important conversations relating to things like transportation and the school year calendar.

On Thursday morning, Lionel and I joined a conference call with Cory Rideout, Director of Education with Light of Christ Catholic School Division, Angela Chobanik, Executive Director of the Education Finance branch and Donna Johnson, Assistant Deputy Minister as well as other members of the Ministry of Education, to discuss purchase cards as a means of meeting sector-wide efficiencies. Following the call, we joined the Board’s Governance Committee for a meeting in the central office boardroom, led by Committee Chairperson, Leslie Lewis. The committee reviews numerous areas of Board governance including policy and professional development and, although it is a relatively new committee, it is crucial for the smooth running of a school board. Other members of the committee include audit committee chair, Denis Bergerman and trustees Jenn Lemky and Ian Kelln. Vice-chair, Wil Lengyel was also part of the committee meeting discussions.

LINC negotiations continued Thursday afternoon and evening and reconvened Friday. I have appreciated greatly the work our Horizon teachers and central office staff have done throughout the negotiation process and look forward to an announcement in the upcoming weeks related to the fruits of our collaborative work together. At a few points during the two days of negotiations, I had to excuse myself to take part in conference calls related to the Education Sector Strategic Plan and my work as an owner of the operational spending outcome. This work continues to require a concerted effort on behalf of all directors and ministry personnel throughout the province as it has a significant impact on the direction of our sector.

Many of our schools took part in 100th Day of School celebrations last week and I enjoyed learning about some of the activities our teachers and support staff held in our schools through the pictures shared on social media and directly from some of our staff. It was great to hear of the excitement in our students as they marked this day and geared up for the February break.

Finally, I want to take this opportunity to thank all staff and SCC’s who took part in the survey related to our school calendar for 2016-17. In total, 426 respondents filled out the survey which is nearly 35% of eligible staff and SCC members in our school division. I know I was hoping for greater numbers this way as a 35% result is lower than my anticipated number that would have seen nearly twice this percentage. That said, the Board reviewed the results closely and supported the desire of the majority of those surveyed who wanted a Christmas break of exactly two weeks and an Easter break that will follow Good Friday. The result is that our 2016-17 calendar will see a September collaborative day, a December 21-January 3 (inclusive) Christmas break and an Easter break that will begin on Good Friday and run until the end of the following week (April 14-23, inclusive). A memo from my office was sent out the end of the day Friday so staff and stakeholders could view the final calendar and begin their planning process for the upcoming school year.

I am currently in Scottsdale, AZ and have joined some of our central office staff and school administrators for the 33rd Annual Effective Schools Conference running from February 16-18. You may recall that members of our Board attended this conference last year as they learned of the 7 correlates that identify a highly effective school. Dr. Larry Lezotte, lead researcher on school effectiveness, developed the correlates and not only are they some of the oldest and most practical research related to the work in schools, they are aligned with a new initiative I am excited to support in Horizon School Division referred to as the “Review of School Effectiveness” or “ROSE”. The appreciative inquiry approach that the ROSE process will follow will be implemented in three of our schools in the coming weeks and months and the purpose is really two-fold. First, it will gather data along these school effectiveness correlates and the data will be organized into a report presented to school staff, parents/caregivers and the Board of Education. Second, the ROSE process provides tremendous professional development opportunities for visiting principals, vice principals and central office staff as they review the numerous effective practices we will see exhibited in our schools and provide ideas for improvement in other school across the system. I look forward to the conference this week and the lessons that our administrators and central office staff will bring back to support and inform this work in our schools and in our school division.

I look forward to hearing about how you spent your week with family and friends when we return to classes on the 22nd. I hope you have had a great Family Day and enjoy a relaxing February Break, everyone.


Kevin C. Garinger, B.Ed, M.A.Ed
Director of Education/CEO
Horizon School Division No. 205