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Horizon School Division
Creating a better world, one student at a time.
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March 4, 2016 - A Message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education

August 08, 2016

Often, we contemplate whether March has “come in like a lion or like a lamb”. I know weather-wise, we certainly can’t complain. After all, as I began writing components of this, the water was running and snow was melting. Lions or lambs, we move forward with the knowledge that spring will come and with it new growth and optimism for the coming seasons. We are all aware of the energy spring brings to children as they no longer have to bundle up for recess - kindergarten and grade one teachers now have extra time on their hands without having to stuff little bodies in layers of snow pants and sweaters and finding lost mittens and toques. While janitors bring out the mops to deal with mud, spring poems and artwork fill bulletin boards and we work diligently to engage students against the backdrop of warm weather and all the fun that is luring them outside. As an educator, the coming of spring also gave me new energy as I knew that this was high learning time as the excitement and fresh oxygen seemed to filter into my classroom. What a great opportunity to utilize all of our brain-based strategies to optimize the learning for our kids.

This week we had an opportunity to explore more with regard to culturally responsive education. Through our partnership with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission, Superintendent of Learning Services, Crandall Hrynkiw, Supervisor of First Nation & Métis Education Services, Joanne Cunningham, William Derby School teacher and Citizenship Education lead, Larry Mikulcik and Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission education liaison, Cathy Mills hosted educators from across Horizon for a session on Citizenship Education and Cultural Responsiveness. The alignment that exists between this work and our Division goal of ensuring safe and caring schools is most apparent when we explore the diversity of our communities and schools. Engagement and commitment to student needs is exemplified in schools where a focus on learning for all students is a priority. It is not enough to simply participate in the professional dialogue that I know took place. Our goal must be met with a profound focus on behaviors in our students that demonstrate a deep appreciation for their peers. This appreciation must stem from the understanding the diversity each student brings to their respective school. As Stephen Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, stated, “Strength lies in differences, not in similarities”. As educators, we understand that being responsive works when our differences are not only appreciated, they are part of a shared world view. When we are working every minute of every day building this belief in our students we can achieve an environment that is not only culturally responsive, but is culturally rich as we engage in the strengths of the diverse backgrounds our students bring. This responsiveness is born in our conversations and is lived through our actions. When it is working well, there are obvious measures we can see improving. When it is not working well, these same measures will show us the need to change. I do know this…when we think we’ve been responsive enough, we will need to find a way to do more. “Treat a person as (s)he is and (s)he will remain as (s)he is. Treat a person as (s)he can and should be and (s)he will become as (s)he can and should be.”

If you had an eye on the news or social media last Thursday, you may have heard about Lucy the St. Brieux deer. If so, you will know that a small doe jumped through a Grade 5 classroom window Wednesday evening around 5 PM. Thanks to the quick work of Principal Christy Baumann and her staff, our Facilities team and area conservation officers, the deer was safely removed from the school within the hour and has since been released back into the wild. The window was boarded up until it can be replaced, our custodians were able to clean up the mess and have everything back to normal for students to return to the classroom the next day. This story spread following a post to the St. Brieux School Facebook page. The post went up on Wednesday evening and by Thursday morning it had been seen by over 40,000 people. This is a great reminder to our staff and students about the importance of responsible social media use. You truly never know what’s going to be shared and re-shared when you’re posting online. 

We began the week on Monday with a prep meeting for our CUPE negotiations. Our negotiations followed later that morning. We also closed out the week on Friday with a return to the negotiating table. Our talks continue to be very positive and I look forward to completing an agreement that supports the work of our staff and our Board and that can be ratified by both parties.

On Tuesday, I joined many community members, school staff members, students, family and friends from the Humboldt area and beyond, along with our Board and central office staff as we paid our respects to Kevin Grieman. Following the service, we joined family and friends at the hall for a lunch provided by our Board. It was truly remarkable to see the number of people who have been impacted by Kevin during his time as a basketball coach, community member and Trustee. It was a great honour to have known Kevin and Tuesday’s service was a powerful memorial for our Trustee and our friend. We continue to keep his entire family in our thoughts and prayers. 

The Senior Leadership Team (SLT), made up of my Deputy Directors and Superintendents, held a meeting on Wednesday morning. We discussed our soon to be implemented ROSE process, our ongoing development of job descriptions, Corporate Services school visits and a number of other important topics. It is always great to sit down with my SLT and have the opportunity to hear firsthand about the great work that’s going on in our system. It’s encouraging to know how our work relates to the work of our colleagues and meetings like this one serve to highlight that collaboration.

On Wednesday afternoon, Board Table Officers joined Randy, Lionel and me for our agenda meeting in preparation for our monthly Board meeting on March 9. March 9 will also be the Annual Meeting of Electors where we will be discussing the year of September 1, 2014 to August 31, 2015. This meeting is open to the public and anyone who would be interested in attending is encouraged to do so.

On Wednesday evening, March 2, the first of our two annual School Community Council Workshops was held at Lanigan Central High School. The second and final workshop for the year was held at Wynyard Composite High School the following night. Thank you to principals Jeff Stroeder and Terry Leibel and their staffs for opening their doors to us and allowing us to bring SCCs together for these important conversations. Facilitated by Randy MacLEAN, we enjoyed presentations from Corporate Services, including Deputy Director, Lionel Diederichs, Superintendent of Finance Services Marilyn Flaman and Superintendent of Operation Services Justin Arendt who discussed SCC budgets and technology and facilities in our schools. Superintendent of Student Services Darrell Paproski, Supervisor of Literacy and Early Learning Services, Katherine Oviatt and Supervisor of Student Services Jason Neville led a presentation on Horizon’s Literacy Journey. Superintendent of Learning Services Crandall Hrynkiw and Coordinator of Learning Services, Jan Paproski delivered a presentation on the role of SCCs in the development of our school’s Learning Improvement Plans (LIPs). Board Chair, Jim Hack and Vice Chair, Wil Lengyel welcomed guests and thanked everyone for their commitment to strengthening our school communities. In a division as geographically large and diverse as Horizon, this is just another example of where our differences certainly give us strength as we work together for the betterment of our students, schools and communities.  

On Thursday, I spent much of the morning responding to requests for interviews regarding the surprise visit of “Lucy”, the deer at St. Brieux School. An interesting note is that I received an email from a gentleman from Hong Kong who lived and attended school in Saskatchewan back in the 60’s and 70’s. He emailed to tell me that he was in a classroom in Regina in 1968 when a similar deer story occurred. From his knowledge, it was the only other time a deer jumped through a school window…until last week. What I find equally remarkable is the connectedness of our world and I wonder, would anyone outside Regina have known of the deer encounter in 1968. 

Staffing meetings continued throughout the week as Randy and his team met with several more school administrators to discuss staffing in our schools following a needs based approach. I appreciate the work of our administrators as well as Randy and his team as we look closely and critically at the needs of our students.

Superintendent of Finance Services, Marilyn Flaman and Superintendent of Operational Services, Justin Arendt continued their school tours this week. They continued their discussions with school administrators focused on facility, technology and school-based budget needs.

Telemiracle took place this weekend and is a great celebration of Saskatchewan’s strong community spirit and generosity. I would like to commend our generous students and staff for the contributions they made through fundraisers and numerous other activities I had the pleasure of witnessing via our Horizon Twitter and Facebook accounts. The town of LeRoy did its own version of creating the potential for a miracle as the community held a supper and social at LeRoy School for little Theo Hartman. Theo is one of our future Horizon children and, as a result of a liver disorder, has an urgent need for a liver transplant. In the Saskatchewan way, the community has wrapped around the family to offer any support they can assemble for the impending and difficult journey of the Hartman family. I would ask that you keep Theo in your hearts as he battles against tremendous odds. I will most assuredly do the same.

Lastly, I was asked to share an invitation from Humboldt Collegiate Institute. It is the 10th anniversary of the Disney movie High School Musical and the HCI Drama Club will be presenting High School Musical Onstage!, with live music and performances on Friday and Saturday, June 10 and 11 on the stage at HCI.  There will be a school matinee at 1:00 pm on Friday, June 10 at a cost of only $2 per student.  These seats will fill quickly so please book this ASAP by contacting Glenda Lees at HCI. There are many such productions happening throughout our Division and that have happened. Thank you to those dedicated teachers and staff who go above and beyond to provide these opportunities for our students and communities. 

Have a great week, everyone.


-Kevin


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