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Horizon School Division
Creating a better world, one student at a time.
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September 8, 2017 - A Message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education

September 11, 2017

I am beginning this week, like so many across our system, with an extremely heavy heart.  I am deeply saddened to share with you that Ricky Block, teacher at Annaheim School, passed away suddenly on Saturday afternoon while doing what he loved most...supporting his students. Mr. Block was in Cudworth coaching his Annaheim girls’ volleyball team at the time of his passing. Our thoughts and/or prayers are with Ricky's family and all who knew him and he will be extremely missed in Horizon. We are providing support to students and staff at any school community that has been affected by his loss. If you or anyone you know would like to speak with someone on our staff to help process your grief at this shocking, tragic loss, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office for support. Ricky was the epitome of talking the talk and walking the walk. He spoke often about his passions for ensuring students were provided opportunities to grow in sports, the arts and education and he walked that talk as a coach, a play director and a teacher. This evening, I was listening to the audio book, “A Leader’s Legacy” by Kouzes and Posner and I immediately thought of Ricky. He was a leader in every aspect of his life and, for so many of us, he has left a legacy that will be long remembered. 

I had the opportunity to begin the first week of the school year with a visit to William Derby School, where I was invited to share a few words with students and staff at their opening day assembly. The theme of their assembly this year was “Learning, Changing, Growing”, and I cannot think of a better or more appropriate theme for our students on the first day of school. Following my visit with William Derby students and staff, I had a chance to stop in at a number of other schools on my way back to central office. Any time of the year, but perhaps especially on the first day of school, it is so great to be in our schools and see the excitement our students and staff have for learning and growth. It is inspiring to see the great things happening in our schools and a reminder of why our work is so important.

On Wednesday, my morning began with a conference call meeting of the Educational Governance Review (EGR): Organizational Staffing and Design Team. We continue our discussions around how best to move the education sector forward with a view towards efficiency.

The Board’s Governance Committee also met on Tuesday. Our Trustees on this committee, include Jennifer Lemky, Linda Mattock, Lori-Anne Proznick and Nathan Bitternose, have been doing excellent work to review their Board Policy and make updates or revisions where needed to reflect current practice. Jim Hack, Board Chair, was also in attendance supporting the committee and their policy work.

On Wednesday afternoon, I joined our Board Chair, Jim Hack, Vice Chair, Wil Lengyel (who joined by phone), CFO / Superintendent of Finance Services, Marilyn Flaman, and COO / Superintendent of Operational Services, Justin Arendt and Deputy Director of Education, Randy MacLEAN, for a meeting to discuss and plan the agenda for our upcoming Board meeting on September 13. Much work goes in to the preparation of the reports and discussion items for our Board, and I always appreciate being able to hold these meeting with an intent to streamline our agenda.

Also on Wednesday, the Boards of Englefeld Protestant Separate School Division (EPSSD) and Horizon School Division shared the very big news that the Board of EPSSD has passed a motion to amalgamate with Horizon. The news release that has been shared, with further comments from the Board Chairs of EPSSD and Horizon, can be found here. As my office moves forward this year in support of both EPSSD and Horizon students, I am proud that both Boards remain so dedicated to students and staff.

A Skype meeting of my Director’s Leadership Team (DLT) of school administrators and Horizon central office administration was held on Thursday morning. During our Skype conversation, we had the chance to discuss many important topics, such as the upcoming Saskatchewan Education Week, school-based budgets and updates to transportation routes. It is great that technology allows us to hold these important meetings without affecting our administrator’s time in schools.

This past Thursday saw a very special celebration in St. Brieux. Students, staff, community members and partners gathered for a grand re-opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony at the newly renovated St. Brieux School to mark the completion of a renovation and expansion project that has been underway there since 2015. It was fantastic to see so many people celebrating the incredible new facility that is now in place to support the needs of the growing St. Brieux community. We were joined by MLA, Kevin Phillips, representing his constituency of Melfort and the Minister of Education. The Ministry and the Government of Saskatchewan were major partners in this project and we were pleased to welcome Mr. Phillips to Horizon School Division and St. Brieux. We had the pleasure of hearing from a number of other dignitaries who have been involved in the school and this project, including St. Brieux’s Mayor Leon Rheaume, St. Brieux School Community Council President, Mr. Mike Gauthier, President of Bourgault Industries, Mr. Gerry Bourgault (whose generosity has greatly benefitted the school through the donation of equipment for their beautiful new industrial arts space), our Board Chair, Jim Hack, and Subdivision 2 Trustee, Linda Mattock. Principal John Casavant acted as emcee for the event. I had an opportunity to share a few words of thanks for the students and staff of St. Brieux School and my staff in central office, particularly our Facility Services Team of Superintendent Justin Arendt, Facility Services Manager, Kam Kiland and Administrative Assistant, Stacy Anthony. As I shared on that day, this project represents the great things that can be achieved through collaboration. I am proud of our system and the many hands involved in putting this facility together. For more information, please find the news release that went out that day, here.

On Thursday evening, Marilyn Flaman, Monica Arendt (Human Resource Services Officer) and I met with the Horizon Teachers’ Association to discuss the LINC agreement for Englefeld School teaching staff. I am proud to say that the negotiations were extremely positive and we were able to finalize the LINC agreement in very short order and prepare it for ratification by the Board and teachers.

We finished the week with meetings of the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) and Central Office Administration Team (COAT) on Friday morning and afternoon. With both the SLT and the COAT, the level of dedication our team members have for their work is nothing short of inspiring. We have an incredible group of people working every day to support our schools, staff and students, and each of you make a critical contribution to our system every day.

As I write this, I am so very thankful for our Horizon family. In good times and bad, when we celebrate the success of our students to having to mourn the loss of a dear friend, it is important to know that we can lean on each other for support. Tomorrow, so many of us, both students and staff, will need that care and I want to thank all of you who will be providing those selfless supports.

Have a good week, everyone.

- Kevin

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