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Horizon School Division
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June 16, 2017 - A Message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education

June 19, 2017

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads and surrogate fathers across Horizon School Division. The importance fathers play in the lives of their children is equaled only by that of mothers. As a father of three boys (I guess men now), I was pleased to be able to spend Sunday evening watching a Boston Red Sox game with my middle son and eldest son using FaceTime. It is not the same as being with them in person, but like any parent whose children have left the “nest”, I am grateful for any time I am afforded. I am not a Red Sox fan but I heartfully cheered for them because it was important to my sons. How many times in our lives as parents do we celebrate the little things our children find significant that we may find almost inconsequential? I remember on numerous occasions my sons would come home emphatically sharing some small feat they had accomplished in school or in an extra-curricular activity. It was important to them so it needed to be equally important to me. I posted their achievements on the fridge or noted it in some other manner and it created a sense of accomplishment, virtue and self-worth. I am grateful I learned this response throughout my youth and well into my adulthood from my own father.

My father exemplified manhood in ways both great and small. I suppose he made his fair share of mistakes, as we all do. The mistakes, in so many ways, made him human and he owned them and strove to learn from them. To me, that made him great. My dad stood by his word. People, who were fortunate enough to have his acquaintance, knew that his handshake was his bond, and he functioned with integrity even during those infinite moments when no one was watching. H, as his students referred to him in the most respectable manner, was true to his word, uncompromisingly committed to my mother and willing to die for his three children. That was my Dad.

Yet, the most spectacular and ineffably humbling example of who he was as a man happened during my own mother’s trials with cancer. Mom has suffered from five bouts of cancer over the last 30 years of her life. Having had three separate treatments of chemotherapy during her battles with the deadly disease, her heart finally let her know that she could take no more. She had a heart attack during her third treatment and required major surgery. Her life was in peril. My father exemplified manhood during this time in ways both great and small. I believe our character, who we truly are, is apparent in times of greatest pain and deepest crisis. For my Dad, this was that moment. True to the character that had always defined him, his manhood evidenced itself yet again during that terribly painful and indescribably heart wrenching moment. And in his actions, by staying by her side and ensuring she had the support she needed to find light in death’s shadows, I saw the measure of a man I could only hope to be. My father clearly understood the impression he had on his children in each and every moment. This impact we make can never be understated and is best exemplified by author Graig Lounbrough, when he said, “The father who has selflessly poured himself into the life of his children may leave no other monument than that of his children. But as for a life well lived, no other monument is necessary.” I thank each father for supporting this belief on Father’s Day…and always.

This past week has been incredibly difficult for students and staff at Lanigan Central High School and across Horizon, as we have mourned the tragic accident that occurred in the community on June 10. I would like to thank LCHS Principal, Jeff Stroeder, the entire staff of LCHS and members of our TERT (Tragic Event Response Team) organized by Horizon’s Coordinator of Learning Services, Jan Paproski, for their work to help students process their grief during this difficult time. In addition to the support our professional staff has provided, they’ve also been encouraging those in need to reach out to our health partners for further support, where required. With the accident occurring near the end of the school year, work is being done to facilitate support for those in need over the summer months. Our focus will remain on helping our youth and our communities deal appropriately with grief and loss in order to begin the healing process. The thoughts and/or prayers of the entire Horizon community remain with all those impacted by this tragedy.

Learning Improvement Plan (LIP) review meetings continued last week, and once again, I was joined in my travels by our Superintendent of Learning Services, Crandall Hrynkiw, and Superintendent of Student Services, Darrell Paproski. Our first meetings of the week took place in St. Brieux School, Three Lakes School and Wakaw School. On Monday afternoon, I returned to central office to meet with the Horizon Teachers’ Association (HTA) Liaison Committee comprised of executive members. President, Gerard Frison and executive members Kelly Sherman and Linda Rae Schmale represented the HTA at our final meeting of the year. The Board was represented by Jim Hack, Wil Lengyel and Christine Gradin and we took time to discuss items such as “Teachers as bus drivers”, staffing processes, budget and the central office building project that has recently been announced. 

The Director’s Leadership Team (DLT) gathered for our final meeting of the school year in Manitou Beach on Tuesday. Prior to this meeting, I visited LCHS to share my condolences with students and staff and offer my support. In such a tragic time, it is inspiring to see a community come together and support one another as we mourn the loss of one of our own. During our DLT meeting, we had the opportunity to discuss items of significant importance such as Horizon’s graduation rates, the 2017-18 budget, school staffing. In keeping with our book study by Jim Collins, Rick Hamel, Principal of Archerwill School and Pat Borsa, Principal of Watrous Elementary (and his VP, Rhonda Hardy) shared the journeys their schools have made from “Good to Great”. The meeting was also an opportunity to acknowledge members of the DLT who will be moving on to new opportunities next year. I would like to take this opportunity to, once again thank Ron Jeannot, Elaine Comfort, Caitlin Hackl, Ryan Heritage, Dawn Liska, Brad Knudsen, Ryan Peterson and Lindsay Perry for their work as members of the DLT. I would also like to thank everyone on the DLT for making this another incredible year for Horizon. A special thank you is extended to my Executive Assistant, Marni Sogge, and Administrative Assistant, Kim Loose, for their work to support my office, our system and the DLT throughout the year.

The Education governance Review: Organizational Staffing and Design Team held our weekly meeting on Wednesday. Our work continues to look at options for efficiency that will move our sector forward in a sustainable way.

Wednesday, June 14 was also the Horizon Board of Education’s final regular meeting of the 2016-17 school year. During this very productive meeting, we discussed such items as transportation, staffing and a schedule for meetings in the coming school year. As you will have seen in a media release sent from my office last week, our Board passed a motion to submit Horizon’s 2017-18 budget for approval to the Ministry of Education. In a challenging financial year for every sector in Saskatchewan, I am extremely proud that our Board and staff have achieved a budget that allows us to maintain supports for students and staff. I am especially proud that Horizon students and families will continue to benefit from one of the lowest pupil-teacher ratios (PTR) in Saskatchewan. We will continue to seek efficiencies in the ways we provide supports for students, but this budget is a testament to the fact that through collaboration and hard work, Horizon’s staff and Board can and will rise to meet any challenge.

Our LIP reviews continued on Thursday and Friday, with Darrell, Crandall and I travelling to Bulyea School, William Derby School, Sask Central Hutterian School, Nokomis School and Drake School on Thursday, and Foam Lake Elementary, Foam Lake Composite, Wadena Composite and Wadena Elementary on Friday. In the afternoon on Friday, I joined Garth Anderson, Horizon Distance Education Principal and Randy MacLEAN, Deputy Director, in a teleconference regarding the potential for out-of-province students to access online distance education delivered by Saskatchewan school divisions. The Ministry is currently exploring policy related to this relatively new issue.

On Friday evening, the HTA held their annual Superannuation banquet, celebrating the careers of our retiring teachers. This year’s banquet was held in Cudworth and our Subdivision 1 Trustee, David Holinaty was on-hand to bring greetings on behalf of the Board. I would like to congratulate this year’s superannuates and wish them all the best in the years ahead. Each of these educators has touched countless lives over the course of their careers, and our future has been made significantly better because of their efforts to meet the needs of our students.

Also on Friday, two more of Horizon’s schools held their graduation ceremonies. Congratulations to the graduating classes of LeRoy School and Rose Valley School. Thank you to everyone involved in helping these students reach this milestone in their lives and thank you to our Board members and representatives from my office for attending to share in these celebrations.

Finally, this week, I want to thank members of our central office staff for putting together a truly fantastic float for the parade that took place during the Summer Sizzler in Humboldt on Saturday. The float was beautifully decorated to represent the changes our classrooms have seen in the 150 years since Confederation. I had the pleasure of driving the float through the parade and it was great to be a part of this celebration with a number of our own Horizon staff and students.

With the countdown to summer holidays on, have a terrific week, everyone.

- Kevin

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

Kevin.garinger@horizonsd.ca