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Horizon School Division
Creating a better world, one student at a time.
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November 3, 2017 - A Message From Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education

November 06, 2017

I hope everyone had a happy and safe Halloween. It is hard to believe that we’ve reached that time of year already. With Halloween falling on a Tuesday this year, I was inspired by the numerous costumes and spirit prevalent in our schools. I know how important school spirit is to the culture of a building and there is certainly a strong culture across Horizon. When I was in Cudworth, I spent some time with Principal Amber Kraus. Considering it was Halloween and knowing her own passion for school spirit, I should have realized she would be dressed up. When I walked into her office, I almost apologized to the strange man sitting at her desk, until I finally realized it was Amber! I also had the opportunity to talk with other staff, most of whom I was grateful I could recognize. I know that giving to those less fortunate is always a tremendous opportunity and with Halloween now behind us, preparations for the holiday season are underway. A memo regarding the Board’s Christmas Hamper project went out from my office this past week, and we look forward to once again, spreading some holiday joy to very deserving Horizon families this season. Over the past 4 years, Horizon staff and its Board have given away nearly $40,000 in gifts, food vouchers, and required items to 239 families and 562 children across our system. We know this year will yet again see us support between 200 and 300 children and I humbly thank everyone who is able to donate to this worthwhile cause.

This past week began with a meeting of the Board’s Governance Committee at central office. This committee is made up of Trustees, Jennifer Lemky, Linda Mattock, Lori-Anne Proznick and Nathan Bitternose. Jim Hack, Board Chair, was also in attendance supporting the committee and their policy work. The committee met to continue their review of Board Policy including discussions around this year’s Board and Director Evaluations. The committee, through their chair Jenn, will take any recommendations to the Board Meeting on Monday.

On Monday afternoon, a meeting was held to finalize the agenda for Monday’s Board meeting. I joined our Board table officers, Chair, Jim Hack, and Vice Chair, Wil Lengyel, Superintendent of Finance Services/CFO, Marilyn Flaman, Superintendent of Operational Services/COO, Justin Arendt, Deputy Director of Education, Randy MacLEAN, Communication Services Officer, Lance Hiltz and Executive Assistants, Marni Sogge and Melanie Gray. I always appreciate the opportunity to hold these meetings in preparations for our regular Board meeting.

Last Tuesday and Wednesday, our Literacy Team facilitated training on the 4/7/9 Provincial Writing Rubric. I know I have heard great things about the PD sessions and recognize, as each of us does, the impact that this learning will have on our children across our system. For facilitating and coordinating these days of professional growth, I want to thank our Literacy Team, including Superintendent of Student Services, Darrell Paproski, Administrative Assistant, Deb Kuipers, Supervisor of Literacy & Early Learning, Katherine Oviatt, and Literacy Coaches, Jacquie Bergerman, Trish Maxwell, Kim Junk and Heidi Linford.

My Director’s Leadership Team (DLT) met via Skype on Wednesday morning to discuss the education sector’s newest policy regarding out-of-province travel, specifically as it relates to professional development opportunities for staff. Randy sent out a memo to staff regarding forms that are required to be filled out and if you have any questions regarding the process or the provincial policy, please don’t hesitate to contact Randy, Todd or me. I also had the chance to finalize and share the newly constructed High Risk Activities administrative procedure and the new process for its implementation. The biggest change to the document is to allow us to ensure informed consent is provided from parents for all high risk activities. Insurers certainly strum the strings in this guitar so, as a system, we need to follow their music closely. Human Resource Services shared updates from their team, Learning Services and Student Services reminded the DLT about a number of upcoming opportunities for students and staff, and Operational Services shared an update about the deployment of new printers and copiers. From what I understand, copiers are a very welcome sight! We entered into a new agreement with Konica-Minolta this year and look forward to their support of our schools and our staff.

On Thursday, I had the opportunity to take part in meetings at Punnichy Elementary Community School with Four Directions staff, Supervisor of Student Service, Jason Neville and Principal of PECS, Jocelyn Armbruster. We have 10 new Horizon children attending our school this month from 4 Directions and the meeting was a tremendous opportunity for me to learn more about their work in supporting children. Following a brief meeting with Donna Nurse, Principal of PCHS, I travelled to 4 Directions to understand even more about the operations of the service provider for the Ministry of Social Services. I was completely impressed with their work and their facilities and encourage any who have the chance, to attend the open house later this month. Thursday evening, I was very grateful to be in attendance with trustees Paul Crow-Buffalo, Jolene Koopman, and Albert Pinacie as we listened to the parents, guardians, and family members of Day Star First Nation children share their thoughts and feelings regarding their children’s education with Day Star Chief and Council and Horizon School Division. It was a powerful meeting and one that continues to exemplify the need for ongoing communication between all stakeholders. Anytime I can meet with our students, parents, and/or caregivers, it is a great opportunity for me.

On Friday, my Senior Leadership Team (SLT) met at central office for a significant part of the day working on strategic planning and communication protocols. I certainly thank each of them for their valuable input into the processes that help support the work of our Board and staff. Following our SLT meeting, I took part in a conference call with Rob Currie, Deputy Minister of Education, who provided an update regarding the Province’s renewed focus on improving outcomes in math. The Ministry has a shared passion for the work we are doing across the sector in literacy and is seeking to understand the ongoing work focused in mathematics. It is certainly refreshing knowing that our efforts in literacy have resulted in continued growth for our students. It has certainly not been at the detriment of any other area including mathematics. In fact, our work at the elementary and high school level with comprehension and “disciplinary literacy” will only enhance our work in all subject areas, including math. We have continued to teach our curricula at every grade level and teaching discipline with the only difference being there is not a measuring tool in mathematics, like Fountas and Pinnell or OCA. However, a number of school divisions, including our own, have developed common assessments for the number strand in mathematics for grades 1 to 9 and, like Horizon, are in the process of implementing the assessments this school year. I am proud of this work led by Cory Popoff, principal of HCI and the numerous teachers who volunteered to sit on the assessment development and review committees. I look forward to learning of the success of this implementation through a review of the assessment results later in the year.

As we begin this week, across our system and across Canada, many of us will be preparing for Remembrance Day ceremonies in schools and communities. I want to take this opportunity to thank our staff and volunteers in advance for their work to bring these events to our students. At this time of year, as we officially honour the sacrifices of those who have fought for our freedoms, I am grateful that there are so many people in our system working to ensure our students learn about and honour the women and men who served and are serving. Thank you for everything you do to share these lessons with the next generations of Canadians. “Lest we never forget.”

Have a great week, everyone.

- Kevin

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