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Horizon School Division
Creating a better world, one student at a time.
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September 22, 2017 - A Message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education

September 25, 2017

This past week, a Graduation Rates Symposium took place in Moose Jaw on Monday and Tuesday. The provincial symposium was held regarding the Education Sector Strategic Plan (ESSP)'s goal for Saskatchewan's three-year graduation rate. The symposium brought together educators and members of the education sector from across Saskatchewan to discuss Saskatchewan's graduation rates data, current states and plans for moving forward. As many of you are aware, the provincial goal is to have our sector's three-year graduation rates reach 85% by June 30, 2020. Currently in Horizon, our graduation rates have been tracking slightly upward each year for the last four to our newest high of 84%. However, in Horizon (and across the province) the ultimate goal would be to have 100% of our students achieve graduation success. While it is obvious that there is a great deal of work remaining to achieve this goal, I am proud to work in a system that is committed and dedicated to the success of each and every student. I am also looking forward to Tuesday of this upcoming week when we will continue our plans with principals who will take this information and data back to their staffs and SCCs. I will be sure to share more regarding this data in the future but one thing that is extremely glaring (and I know this won't surprise anyone) is that graduation success is strongly correlated to attendance. The easy answer to our 100% goal – achieve 100% of our students attending 90% of the time (or more) and we will achieve the pinnacle. The real work then is to find out "why" our children are not attending. 

On Monday, Horizon held a Collaborative Learning Day for secretaries, educational assistants and teachers. Secretaries and EAs met for professional development sessions in Humboldt, while teachers took part in sessions held in their own schools. This was the second Collaborative Learning Day of the 2017-18 school year and from the many reports I have received from principals and other system leaders, it was a tremendous day. John Hattie, author of Visible Learning and Visible Learning for Teachers, determined the effect size of 195 influences that effect learning and found that one of the highest is the work teachers do together (effect size of 1.57) to make learning "visible". Collaboration then, is one of the most important things we can do and I am humbled by the commitment Horizon has to this process.

On Tuesday afternoon, I travelled from the Graduation Rates Symposium in Moose Jaw to Saskatoon, where I had the opportunity to attend the Cheryl and Henry Kloppenburg Award for Literary Excellence Luncheon. Of course, Mr. Kloppenburg is one of this year's Wall of Fame Inductees. He and his wife, Cheryl, have long been great supporters of the arts in Saskatchewan. Mr. Kloppenburg's award was established in partnership with the Writer's Guild of Saskatchewan to celebrate the work of a Saskatchewan author who has established a substantial body of literary work. Past recipients of this honour include David Carpenter and Yann Martel. This year's award went to Mr. Trevor Herriot, author of several award-winning books, including Grass, Sky, Song and River in a Dry Land. I was honoured to attend this event celebrating literacy and local authors, and proud to know that one of the award's founders is a Horizon graduate and Wall of Fame Inductee. For more information on the award and Mr. Herriot, visit the Saskatchewan Writer's Guild website, here

On Wednesday, I met with my fellow Directors of Education and in Saskatoon to discuss matters critical to our schools, divisions and the sector at large. Collaboration is so important to effectiveness at every level, and I value the opportunities to hold discussions with my colleagues from across the province. Michael Fullan, in his book, The Principal: 3 Keys to Maximizing Impact, has indicated that "system learning" – learning across the sector, is paramount in establishing the key strategic plans that eventually flow into the classrooms of our schools.

On Wednesday evening, Mr. Rob Currie, Deputy Minister of Education, held a meeting with ESSP Co-Chairs and Owners. As owner of the Sector-Wide Efficiencies Outcome, I was able to share in these discussions to help support the work of the sector.

The Saskatchewan School Boards Association (SSBA) held their Member's Council in Saskatoon on September 21 and 22. Member's Council is an opportunity for Saskatchewan's school board trustees to share conversations and important information relating to educational governance. Their theme for this fall was "Local Voice in Action". Trustees heard from SSBA President, Shawn Davidson, SSBA Executive Director, Darren McKee and Honourable Bronwyn Eyre, Minister of Education. On Thursday, I joined the Provincial Leadership Team (PLT) of Directors and Ministry personnel in Saskatoon for a Data Wall Walk and plan development session. We also finalized our presentation to SSBA members, which we presented on Friday at a Q&A session for Board Chairs and Vice Chairs.

Back at the Horizon central office, our Graduation Rates Improvement Team (GRIT) met to discuss Horizon's data and finalize the facilitation plan for the Director's Leadership Team (DLT) professional learning day on September 26. Horizon's GRIT Committee is made up of Senior Leadership, school principals and vice principals and other central office leaders. As we continue the critical work of ensuring each of our students achieves graduation, I am extremely grateful for the work of all staff across our system.

Have a great week, everyone.

- Kevin

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